The Danube River is probably the most shared river on Earth, its course running across (or forming parts of the borders of) ten countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine, and four capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade. After a journey of 2860 km in which 80% of the European hydrographic basin is absorbed, the river empties into the Black Sea through a magnificent delta that represents the youngest European territory, being in a continuous development.
Danube Delta was declared Biosphere Reserve in 1990 and has the third largest biodiversity in the world (over 5,200 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador. And this richness of biodiversity is recorded in only 5800 km2
That should be enough to know for those interested to include Danube Delta in their plans for the next holiday.
The visitors will find here a complex of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, structurally and functionally distinctively in different units that are tightly interconnected and interdependent, giving to this zone the status of ”unicum ecologicum” within the delta’s system. By its dimension, this complex of ecological units is the most important wetland area of south-eastern Europe, having an important contribution to the regional and global water cycle, being also a main buffer zone (chemical filter) located between the Danube with its hydrographic basin on the one hand and the north-western part of the Black Sea on the other.
The water land is prevalent, so flora and fauna will be aquatic. The terrestrial medium is also present with a xerophyle flora and an adequate fauna, specific for the east-European steppe with Mediterranean influences. Between these two mediums the swampy, easily flooded medium is interposing, having alternative possibilities of adaptation (water, land) depending on the seasonal and yearly hydrological regime.
For the time being, this ecological system includes small backwaters, marshes, ponds, lakes, floating reed islands, flooding zones, the Danube’s branches and a rich network of brooks and channels (natural or man-made), through which the aquatic ecosystems are interconnected; the terrestrial parts include large sandy banks, generated by the marine streams which blocked the sediments dispersal, as well as smaller sandy banks spread along the Danube’s branches and the main channels, created by the river itself.
As a unique ecological system, the Delta represents a scientific reservoir for the further development of the theoretical basis of ecology; the diversity of biotopes, of food resources, as well as its geographical position, made the Delta a junction point on birds’ migration routes, the inventory reaching over 300 species, including several globally-threatened species.
The heterogeneity of the ecological structure and biological diversity generated, granted the role of aesthetic resource and world heritage component for this territory.
Owing to its mild climate, natural richness and geographic location, people have long been attracted to the Danube Delta and it has possessed economic, political and strategic importance since ancient times. Proofs of substantial permanent settlements from Greek and Roman times are provided by different discoveries of fortifications and urban areas, along the Danube, the continental side of the delta as well as the Black Sea shore.
With few exceptions, the actual human settlements from delta were built in late Middle age by different ethnic foreign groups, mixed up with the locals. Nowadays villages surrounding the Delta show Turkish, Russian Lipovan and Ukrainian influence. That’s why the area of Danube Delta stands out as a development center of a traditional civilization with particular characteristics owed mainly by the assimilation phenomenon between the autochthonous Romanians and the other ethnics.