2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: European Geography

This article is about the river. For other uses of "Danube", see Danube (disambiguation).

The 2850 kmDanube at Budapest
The 2850 kmDanube at Budapest
Origin Black Forest ( Schwarzwald-Baar, Baden-Württemberg, Germany)
Mouth Black Sea (Romania and Ukraine)
Basin countries Romania (28.9%), Hungary (11.7%), Austria (10.3%), Serbia (10.3% combined), Germany (7.5%), Slovakia (5.8%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (4.8%), Croatia (4.5%), Ukraine (3.8%), Czech Republic (2.6%), Slovenia (2.2%), Moldova (1.7%), Switzerland (0.32%), Italy (0.15%), Poland (0.09%), Albania (0.03%)
Length 2,888 km
Source elevation 1,078 m
Avg. discharge 30 km before Passau: 580 m³/s
Vienna: 1,900 m³/s
Budapest: 2,350 m³/s
Belgrade: 4,000 m³/s
just before Delta: 6,500 m³/s
[Peak discharge at Iron Gate Dam 15,400 m³/s on 13 April 2006.]
Basin area 801,463 km²

The Danube (ancient Danuvius, ancient Greek Ἴστρος Istros) is the longest river of the European Union and Europe's second-longest (after the Volga). It originates in the Black Forest in Germany as two smaller rivers—the Brigach and the Breg—which join at Donaueschingen, and it is from here that it is known as the Danube, flowing generally eastwards for a distance of some 2850 km (1771 miles), passing through several Central and Eastern European capitals, before emptying into the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania.

The Danube has been an important international waterway for centuries, as it remains today. Known to history as one of the long-standing frontiers of the Roman Empire, the river flows through—or forms a part of the borders of—ten countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine; in addition, the drainage basin includes parts of ten more countries: Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, and Albania.

The names of the river (German: Donau, Slovak: Dunaj, Albanian: Danubi, Polish: Dunaj, Hungarian: Duna, Croatian: Dunav, Serbian: Дунав / Dunav, Bulgarian: Дунав (Dunav), Romanian: Dunăre, Ukrainian: Дунай (Dunay), Italian: Danubio, Latin: Danuvius, modern Greek: Δούναβης, Turkish: Tuna, Slovene: Donava, local Yiddish: Duner - דונער and Tine - טינע) are all ultimately derived from the Proto-Indo-European *dānu, meaning "river" or "stream". Still nowadays don in Ossetic language means both "water" and "river". Other major European river names with this Indo-European root for "stream" include the Donets, Dnieper, Dniester, the Don River, Russia and the River Don, England.



The confluence of the Sava into the Danube at Belgrade. The river to the left is Sava. The land to the right of the picture is the "Veliko Ratno Ostrvo" island in the Danube.
The confluence of the Sava into the Danube at Belgrade. The river to the left is Sava. The land to the right of the picture is the "Veliko Ratno Ostrvo" island in the Danube.

The Danube's tributary rivers reach into ten other countries. Some Danubian tributaries are important rivers in their own right, navigable by barges and river boats of shallow draught. Ordered from source to mouth, the main tributaries are:

Iller - Lech - Regen (entering at Regensburg) - Isar - Inn (entering at Passau) - Enns - Morava - Leitha - Váh (entering at Komárno) - Hron - Ipel - Sió - Drava - Vuka - Tisza - Sava (entering at Belgrade) - Tamiš - Velika Morava - Caraş - Jiu - Iskar - Olt - Vedea - Argeş - Ialomiţa - Siret - Prut


The Danube Bend at Visegrád (Hungary) is a popular destination of tourists
The Danube Bend at Visegrád ( Hungary) is a popular destination of tourists

The Danube flows through the following major cities:

  • Ulm - Germany
  • Ingolstadt - Germany
  • Regensburg - Germany, capital of Upper Palatinate
  • Passau - Germany
  • Linz - Austria, capital of Upper Austria
  • Krems - Austria
  • Vienna - capital of Austria, where the Danube floodplain is called the Lobau
  • Bratislava - capital of Slovakia
  • Komárno - Slovakia
  • Komárom - Hungary
  • Esztergom - Hungary
  • Visegrád - Hungary
  • Budapest - capital of Hungary
  • Baja - Hungary
  • Vukovar - Croatia
  • Bačka Palanka - city in Serbian province of Vojvodina
  • Novi Sad - capital of the Serbian province of Vojvodina
  • Belgrade - the capital of Serbia
  • Smederevo - Serbia
  • Drobeta-Turnu Severin - Romania
  • Vidin - Bulgaria
  • Lom - Bulgaria
  • Rousse - Bulgaria
  • Călăraşi - Romania
  • Silistra - Bulgaria
  • Brăila - Romania
  • Galaţi - Romania
  • Tulcea - Romania
  • Sulina - Romania
  • Izmail - Ukraine

Modern navigation

The Danube is navigable by ocean ships from the Black Sea to Brăila in Romania and by river ships to Kelheim, Bavaria; smaller craft can navigate further upstream to Ulm, in Germany. About 60 of its tributaries are also navigable.

The Iron Gate, on the Romanian-Serbian border
The Iron Gate, on the Romanian-Serbian border

Since the construction of the German Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in 1992, the river has been part of a trans-European waterway from Rotterdam on the North Sea to Sulina on the Black Sea (3500 km). In 1994 the Danube was declared one of ten Pan-European transport corridors, routes in Central and Eastern Europe that required major investment over the following ten to fifteen years. The amount of goods transported on the Danube increased to about 100 million tons in 1987. In 1999, transport on the river was made difficult by the NATO bombing of 3 bridges in Serbia. The clearance of the debris was finished in 2002. The temporary pontoon bridge that hampered navigation was finally removed in 2005.

At the Iron Gate, the Danube flows through a gorge that forms part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania; it contains the hydroelectric Iron Gate I dam, followed at about 60 km downstream (outside the gorge) by the Iron Gate ll dam.

There are three artificial waterways built on the Danube: the Danube-Tisa-Danube Canal (DTD) in the Banat and Bačka regions ( Vojvodina, northern province of Serbia); the 64 km Danube-Black Sea Canal, between Cernavodă and Constanţa (Romania) finished in 1984, shortens the distance to the Black Sea by 400 km; the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal (about 171 km), finished in 1992, linking the North Sea to the Black Sea.

The Danube delta

The Danube Delta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. Its wetlands (on the Ramsar list of wetlands of international importance) support vast flocks of migratory birds, including the endangered Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus). Rival canalization and drainage scheme threaten the delta: see Bastroe Channel.


A map showing the Danube
A map showing the Danube

Although the headwaters of the Danube are relatively small today, geologically, the Danube is much older than the Rhine, with which its catchment area competes in today's southern Germany. This has a few interesting geological complications. Since the Rhine is the only river rising in the Alps mountains which flows north towards the North Sea, an invisible line divides large parts of southern Germany, which is sometimes referred to as the European Watershed.

However, before the last ice age in the Pleistocene, the Rhine started at the southwestern tip of the Black Forest, while the waters from the Alps that today feed the Rhine were carried east by the so-called Urdonau (original Danube). Parts of this ancient river's bed, which was much larger than today's Danube, can still be seen in (now waterless) canyons in today's landscape of the Swabian Alb. After the Upper Rhine Valley had been eroded, most waters from the Alps changed their direction and began feeding the Rhine. Today's upper Danube is but a meek reflection of the ancient one.

Since the Swabian Alb is largely shaped of porous limestone, and since the Rhine's level is much lower than the Danube's, today subsurface rivers carry much water from the Danube to the Rhine. On many days in the summer, when the Danube carries little water, it completely oozes away noisily into these underground channels at two locations in the Swabian Alp, which are referred to as the Donauversickerung ( Danube Sink). Most of this water resurfaces only 12 km south at the Aachtopf, Germany's wellspring with the highest flow, an average of 8500 liters per second, north of Lake Constance—thus feeding the Rhine. The European Water Divide thus in fact only applies for those waters that pass beyond this point, and only during the days of the year when the Danube carries enough water to survive the sink holes in the Donauversickerung.

Since this enormous amount of underground water erodes much of its surrounding limestone, it is estimated that the Danube upper course will one day disappear entirely in favour of the Rhine, an event called stream capturing.

Human history

Danube in Ulm, where it separates Ulm in Baden-Württemberg and Neu-Ulm in Bavaria.
Danube in Ulm, where it separates Ulm in Baden-Württemberg and Neu-Ulm in Bavaria.
At Esztergom and  Štúrovo, the Danube separates Hungary from Slovakia.
At Esztergom and Štúrovo, the Danube separates Hungary from Slovakia.
River Danube in Vienna.
River Danube in Vienna.
The Danube between Belene and Belene Island, Bulgaria
The Danube between Belene and Belene Island, Bulgaria
A look upstream from the Donauinsel in Vienna, Austria during an unusually cold winter (February 2006). A frozen Danube is a phenomenon experienced only once or twice in a lifetime. (Details)
A look upstream from the Donauinsel in Vienna, Austria during an unusually cold winter (February 2006). A frozen Danube is a phenomenon experienced only once or twice in a lifetime. (Details)
Bratislava doesn't usually experience major floods, but the Danube sometimes overflows its right bank.
Bratislava doesn't usually experience major floods, but the Danube sometimes overflows its right bank.

The Danube basin contains sites of the earliest human cultures: the Danubian Neolithic cultures include the Linear Pottery Cultures of the mid-Danube basin (see also Linear Ceramic culture) The Vucedol culture (from site Vucedol near Vukovar, Croatia) of the third millennium BC is famous for their ceramics. Later, many sites of the Vinca culture are sited along the Danube. The river was part of the Roman empire's Limes Germanicus.

Of importance for the Danube is also the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The ICPDR is an international organisation consisting of 13 member states (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine) and the European Union. ICPDR, established in 1998, deals not only with the Danube itself, but with the whole Danube River Basin, which includes also its tributaries and the ground water resources. The goal of the ICPDR is to implement the Danube River Protection Convention, promoting and coordinating sustainable and equitable water management, including conservation, improvement and rational use of waters for the benefit of the Danube River Basin countries and their people.

Noted horror writer Algernon Blackwood's most famous short story, "The Willows" concerned a trip down the Danube.

Cultural significance

The Danube is mentioned in the title of a famous waltz by Austrian composer Johann Strauss, An der schönen, blauen Donau (By the Beautiful Blue Danube). This song was composed as Strauss was travelling down the Danube River. This song is well known across the world and is also used widely as a lullaby.

Another famous waltz about the Danube is The Waves of the Danube ( Romanian: Valurile Dunării) by the Romanian composer Ion Ivanovici (1845–1902), and the work took the audience by storm when performed at the 1889 Paris Exposition.

The German tradition of landscape painting, the Danube school, was developed in the Danube valley in the 16th century.

The most famous book describing the Danube might be Claudio Magris's masterpiece Danube ( ISBN 1-86046-823-3).

The river is the subject of the film The Ister (official site here).

Parts of the German road movie Im Juli take place along the Danube.

Economics of the Danube

Drinking water

Along its path, the Danube is a source of drinking water for about ten million people. In Baden-Württemberg, Germany, almost thirty percent ( as of 2004) of the water for the area between Stuttgart, Bad Mergentheim, Aalen and Alb-Donau (district) comes from purified water of the Danube. Other cities like Ulm and Passau also use some water from the Danube.

In Austria and Hungary, most water comes from ground and spring sources, and only in rare cases is water from the Danube used. Most states also find it too difficult to clean the water because of extensive pollution; only parts of Romania where the water is cleaner still use a lot of drinking water from the Danube.

Navigation and transport

As "Corridor VII" of the European Union, the Danube is an important transport route. Since the opening of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, the river connects the Black Sea with the industrial centers of Western Europe and with the Port of Rotterdam. The waterway is designed for large scale inland vessels (110 by 11,45 meters) but it can carry much larger vessels on most of its course. The Danube has been partly canalized in Germany (5 locks) and Austria (10 locks). Further proposals to build a number of new locks in order to improve navigation have not progressed, due in part to environmental concerns.

Downstream from the Freudenau Locks in Vienna, canalization of the Danube was limited to the Gabčíkovo dam and locks near Bratislava and the two double Iron Gate locks in the border stretch of the Danube between Serbia and Romania. These locks have larger dimensions (similar to the locks in the Russian Volga river, some 300 by over 30 meters). Downstream of the Iron Gate, the river is free flowing all the way to the Black Sea, a distance of more than 860 kilometers.

The Danube connects with the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal at Kelheim, and with the Wiener Donaukanal in Vienna. Apart from a couple of secondary navigable branches, the only major navigable rivers linked to the Danube are the Drava, Sava and Tisza. In Serbia, a canal network also connects to the river; the network, known as the Dunav-Tisa-Dunav canals, links sections downstream.


The importance of fishing on the Danube, which used to be critical in the Middle Ages, has declined dramatically. Some fishermen are still active at certain points on the river, and the Danube Delta still has an important industry.

Important tourist and natural spots along the Danube, including the Wachau valley, the Nationalpark Donau-Auen in Austria, the Naturpark Obere Donau in Germany, Kopački rit in Croatia, Iron Gates (Danube Gorge) and Danube Delta in Romania.

Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube"