Rivers of the World the Danube River

About the Danube river, history and geography of the second longest river in Europe.



The Danube (the German Donau) is Europe's second-longest river.

It begins 2,000 ft. above sea level at the confluence of two Black Forest streams in Donaueschingen, West Germany, and travels 1,750-1,800 mi. to the Black Sea, through eight countries and many of Europe's great cities. Once it leaves Bavaria, the Danube passes its leading port, Linz, Austria, and moves on to Vienna, where Johann Strauss immortalized it in song in the 19th century. Old Vienna is actually 3 mi. west of the Danube, but a diversionary canal passes through the city's center. Passing out of Austria, the river splits into three channels--one of which constitutes the Czechoslovakian-Hungarian border--but later comes together again near Budapest, the Hungarian capital. On the river's north bank sits Bratislava, the old Slovakian capital. From Hungary the river rolls peacefully into Yugoslavia, intersects the capital, Belgrade, then becomes the Yugoslavian-Romanian border, and later the Bulgarian-Romanian border, before finally emptying into the Black Sea, where its delta has created 1,000 sq. mi. of marshy wilderness.

The Danube drains 315,000 sq. mi. and carries more water than any other European river. At the delta head, its flow averages 1,550,000 gallons per second.

The Danube has been used for navigation since pre-Roman days. Gypsies have long called it the "dustless highway." The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned it in the 5th century B.C. The Roman emperor Tiberius followed it to its Teutonic source during the time of Christ. The river flourished as civilization's artery till the 12th century, when the Turks interrupted traffic for 500 years.

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