For other uses of "Danube", see Danube (disambiguation).


The Danube (Donau in German; Dunaj in Slovak; Duna in Hungarian; Dunav in Croatian and Serbian; Дунав (Dunav) in Bulgarian; Dunăre in Romanian; Дунай (Dunay) in Ukrainian) is, after the Volga, Europe's second-longest river.

It rises 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 south-eastwards for a distance of some 2850 km (1775 miles) before emptying into the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania.

The Danube has for centuries been, as it remains today, an important international waterway. 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.

The Danube flows through the following large cities:


1 Geology
2 Human history
3 Cultural significance
4 Notes
5 External links


The Danube's tributary rivers reach into seven 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 - Enns - Morava - Leitha - Vh (entering at Komrno) - Hron - Ipel - Si - Drave - Tisza - Sava (entering at Belgrade) - Velika Morava - Caraş - Jiu - Iskur - Olt - Vedea - Argeş - Ialomiţa - Siret - Prut

The Danube Delta

Main article 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.

Modern navigation

The Danube is navigable by ocean ships from the Black Sea to Brăila, in Romania and by river ships to Ulm, in Germany. About 60 of its tributaries are also navigable. See Danube-Black Sea Canal.

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 and Montenegro. The clearance of the debris was finished in 2002.

At the Iron Gate, the Danube flows through a gorge that forms part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania; it contains a hydroelectric dam.

The gorge lies between Romania in the north and Serbia in the south. See also the Danube-Black Sea Canal. In Serbia and Montenegro there is Dunav-Tisa-Dunav channel as well.

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.

Panoramic view of a Danube from `s Kalemegdan
Panoramic view of a Danube from Belgrade`s Kalemegdan

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 8,000 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 favor of the Rhine, an event called stream capturing.

Danube in Ulm
Danube in Ulm

Human history

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 of the third millennium BC is famous for their ceramics. Later, many sites of the Vinca culture are sited along the Danube.

Cultural significance

Missing image
At Esztergom and Štrovo, the Danube separates Hungary from Slovakia.

The Danube is mentioned in the title of a famous waltz by Austrian composer Johann Strauss, An der schnen, blauen Donau (By the Beautiful Blue Danube).

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 ought to be Claudio Magris's masterpiece Danube (ISBN 1860468233).


¹ Length from the source of the Breg.

² Source of the Breg.

External links


ast:Danubiu bg:Дунав ca:Danubi cs:Dunaj cy:Afon Donaw da:Donau de:Donau eo:Danubo es:Danubio et:Doonau fi:Tonava fr:Danube ga:An Danib he:דנובה hu:Duna id:Donau it:Danubio ja:ドナウ川 ko:도나우 강 lt:Dunojus nds:Donau nl:Donau pl:Dunaj pt:Rio Danbio ro:Dunăre ru:Дунай (река) sk:Dunaj sr:Река Дунав sv:Donau uk:Дунай zh:多瑙河


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