Danube and Ukraine today

As the Danube River, being the second-largest European river in length (2,850 km), flows east, it comes through Romania and Ukraine before it reaches its end in the Black Sea. Approximately 3,8% of the Danube is within the Ukrainian border. Ukraine became a signatory state to the Danube River Protection Convention in 1994, and the Ukrainian Parliament ratified the convention in 2002.

The Danube comes through the lower part of Ukraine and is divided into three branches. One of these branches, the 112 km Kiliya branch, forms the border between Ukraine and Romania. The Tisza, Prut and Siret basins are three sub-basins of the Danube partly located in Ukraine. In the Ukrainian part of the Danube Basin, there are approximately 2,7 million inhabitants, constituting 3,3% of the total Danube District. One of the most famous parts of this area at end of the Danube is the Danube Delta, which is a natural reserve. Even though most of the Danube Delta is in Romania, a considerable part of this natural reserve is in Ukraine.

The Danube Delta (Ukrainian: Дельта Дунаю)

The Danube Delta is the best preserved delta in Europe, and its protected areas include islands with attached areas of water and wetlands. It host 23 natural ecosystems, including ecosystems of running water, stagnant water, marshy and flooding areas and riverbank ecosystems. More than 250 birds species, including pink pelicans, geese and egrets nest in the reserve, and the estimation of total number of animal species is around 5,000. The Ukrainian branch of the Danube delta was extended into the Danube Biosphere reserve in 1998.

In the Ukrainian part of the Danube, the largest city is Izmail (Ukr: Ізмаї́л), with a population of approximately 85,000. However, further east, almost at the end of the Danube, one finds Vylkove (Ukr: Вилкове), which is the last settlement on bank of the Danube before the Black Sea. It was founded in 1746 and was assigned status of town in 1762. The Ukrainian Danube Biosphere Nature Reserve has its administration in Vylkove. is known as the “the Ukrainian Venice”, as a result of the numerous channel systems excavated inside its territory. Consequently, the most common method of transport is by boat, and the boats used have much in common with the boats used by Ukrainian Cossacks.

Due to its location inside the Danube Delta, fishery is the main occupation of the local people, since grain growing is difficult in the marshes surrounding the town. Nevertheless, Vylkove is famous for its viticulture and the river silt is a first-rate natural fertiliser ensuring good harvests of vegetables. Vylkove has been claimed to be an original memorial of co-existence of man and nature.

Olof Eriksson

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