Danube River is the only flowing water in the world whose distance is measured upstream and not downstream. It is also the second longest river in Europe and the only to cross the continent from East to West.
Since antiquity, the Danube had several names, starting with Istros in Greek ancient writings and continuing with Danubius in the Latin-Roman ones. The name Danubius given by the Romans means ‘God of the Rivers’.
Danube’s source is in the Black Forest Mountains of Germany, being formed by the union of three springs called Breg, Brigacs and Donau Quelle. Until reaching the Black Sea the river runs a total distance of 2860 kilometers (1770 miles), crossing 10 European countries such as Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. The Danube also crosses four country capitals such as Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade, thus being the most cosmopolitan river of Europe.
On Romanian territory the Danube runs 1075 kilometers (670 miles). The river makes its entrance into Romania in a spectacular way, crossing the highest and most impressive gorge. In the south of Romania, it forms a natural border with Bulgaria, then ascends to southeast where it divides into three main channels called Chilia, Sulina and St. George. As a paradox, the Danube begins through three springs and ends also in three channels.
The land of waters formed by canals and lakes is called the Danube Delta, the second largest delta in Europe after Volga’s river delta. The Danube Delta has a total area of 4200 square kilometers (1620 square miles), of which 3450 km on the territory of Romania and 750 km on the territory of Ukraine. It is the best preserved of the European deltas and the only delta of a river in the world declared biosphere reserve.
The richest area in the world in biodiversity is Galapagos islands, followed by the Great Coral Reef, the third biosphere in the world being the Danube Delta. The Danube Delta is also the youngest territory of Europe. Every year the river transports to the mouths 70 million tons of alluviums. This way, the surface of the Danube Delta is enlarged annually with 40 square meters, being the youngest territory of Europe. Also, Sulina, city of Romania, is the most eastern city of the European Union.
The Danube Delta is a magnificent territory of aquatic flora and fauna. Flora includes 2383 species of which: 78% reed and rush, 14% forests, 6% leeches and 2% floating vegetation. Fauna includes 24 species of amphibians and 135 species of fish, including 5 sturgeons. But by far, the fauna wealth of the Danube Delta consists of the 331 bird species with predominance of water birds.
By visiting the Danube Delta in a boat you can have the pleasant surprise to be in the middle of a colony of pelicans, swans and cormorants, the surface of the lake being covered with white and yellow lilies. Last but not least, Danube Delta is a cosmopolitan region with 60% Romanians, 20% Ukrainians, 15% Russians and other nationalities. Following in the first place the invaluable natural values of the Danube Delta, but also the cultural value of the area, a visit in the Danube Delta remains an unforgettable experience.
Article written by Gabriel Florea.