The Sava (Slovene pronunciation: [ˈsàːʋa], Serbo-Croatian: [sǎːʋa], Serbian Cyrillic: Сава) is a river in Central and Southeastern Europe, a right tributary of the Danube. It flows through Slovenia, Croatia, along the northern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and through Serbia, discharging into the Danube in Belgrade. Its central part is a natural border of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. The Sava forms the northern border of the Balkan Peninsula, and the southern edge of the Pannonian Plain.
The Sava is 990 kilometres (615 miles) long, including the 45-kilometre (28 mi) Sava Dolinka headwater rising in Zelenci, Slovenia. It is the greatest tributary of the Danube by volume of water, and second-largest after Tisza in terms of catchment area (97,713 square kilometres (37,727 square miles)) and length. It drains a significant portion of the Dinaric Alps region, through the major tributaries of Drina, Bosna, Kupa, Una, Vrbas, Lonja, Kolubara, Bosut and Krka. The Sava is one of the longest rivers in Europe and among a handful of European rivers of that length that do not drain directly into a sea.
The population in the Sava River basin is estimated at 8,176,000, and it connects three national capitals—Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade. The Sava is navigable for larger vessels from the confluence of the Kupa River in Sisak, Croatia, approximately two-thirds of its length.
The name is believed to be derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *sewh1 ('to take liquid', whence the English word sup) and the ending *eh2, so that it literally means 'that which waters [the ground]'.