The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania (Tulcea county), while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ukraine (Odessa Oblast). The approximate surface is 4152 km sq, of which 3446 km sq are in Romania.
If one includes the lagoons of Razim-Sinoe (1015 km sq of which 865 km sq water surface), which are located south of the delta proper, but are related to it geologically and ecologically (their combined territory is part of the World Heritage Site), the total area of the Danube Delta reaches 5165 km sq.
The climate of the Danube Delta is continental with strong influences from the vicinity of the Black Sea and its prevalent amphibian environment. It is the driest and sunniest region (70 days with blue sky, 2500 hours of sunshine/year) of Romania. The mean annual temperature is 11°C (-1°C in January and 22°C in July), with mean precipitation between 400and 300 mm/year, decreasing from west to east.
The Danube Delta is perhaps the least inhabited region of temperate Europe. In the Romanian side live about 20,000 people, of which 4,600 in the port of Sulina, which gives an average density of approx. 2 inhabitants per km². The rest is scattered in 27 villages, of which only three, all situated marginally, have more than 500 people (2002). The city of Tulcea, at the western edge of the delta, has a population of 92,000 (2002). It represents the node of the region and the gate to the delta.
Recorded history first noted the Delta under Dacian control before being conquered by the Romans. After invasion by the Goths the region changed hands many times. During the 15th century, the Danube Delta became part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1812, following the Russo-Turkish War the borders of Ottoman and Russian Empires were set by Kilia and Old Stambul Channels of Danube, and in 1829 by St George Channel.
Environment and issues
Large-scale works began in the Danube Delta as early as the second half of the 19th century. First corrections of the Sulina arm began in 1862, and they continued throughout the 20th century. As a result, the length of the Sulina arm was reduced from 92 to 64 km, and its flow more than doubled, thus making it suitable for large-vessel navigation.
Correcting the six large meanders on its course thereby reduced the length of the Sfântu Gheorghe from 108 km to 108, and its flow also increased somewhat. Both these increases were made to the detriment of the Chilia arm, which as of present remains the most unspoiled arm of the main three.