Danube Delta

> Under construction ΣΤΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ
Common name
Danube Delta
Partially Navigable Waterway.
Useful information
The Danube Delta, together with the Halmyris lagoons, covers 5,640 square kilometres. At the head of the delta triangle is the Romanian river town of Tulcea, a communications crossroads and fading industrial centre with abandoned factories still polluting the environment as they rust along the river's edge.
From Tulcea (in 1900 known to the Greeks as `the Danubian Mykonos' because so many men from that Aegean island were working here) the river divides into five branches flowing down through the swamps of this huge wetland.
Two of these channels are too shallow for boats and are no longer distinguishable from the surrounding bog. Communication runs along the three navigable branches. The northern and southern branches (Chilia and Sfintu Gheorghe) define the delta triangle. At the end of the nineteenth century, when ships and riverboats abandoned sails for steam, major works were undertaken on the central, and shortest, branch (Sulina) to deepen the channel and regulate its route.
Northern branch, Braţul Chilia (corruption of the ancient Greek name Achilleia; the Byzantines called this branch Lykostomon, meaning `Wolf's Mouth'). Stretching for 125 kilometres, it divides into two smaller branches and creates its own delta with several outlets.
Its route delimits the border between Romania, on the south side, and the Ukraine, on the north. On the northern shore, Moldova (former Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia) lays claim to only a narrow riparian strip between Ukrainian and Romanian territory, a strip barely 800 metres wide that gives Moldova access to the Black Sea and a place to establish a modern river port.
The Ukrainian settlements along the Braţul Chilia are the towns of Ismail and Kilija, and the picturesque fishing village of Vilkovo, set in the maze of channels 16 kilometres from where the Braţul Chilia meets the Black Sea. The fishing village was founded in 1741 by Lippovan refugees, Orthodox Christian `schismatics' who were hounded by the Cossacks of Tsarist Russia for their doctrinal convictions.
The entire delta from the southern shore of the Braţul Chilia southward belongs to Romania. The region is under the administrative jurisdiction of the province of Tulcea and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Lower Danube Metropolitan See, centred at Galatsi. However, the lagoons of Sinoe belong to the province of Constantza.
These two provinces, between the Danube, the delta, and the Black Sea, were part of the Dobrudja region, the northeasternmost province of the Ottoman Empire until 1877.
Central branch, Braţul Sulina (ancient Greek Kalon Stoma or Kalostomon, meaning `the good river mouth'; Byzantine Solin or Soulinas, meaning `pipe' or `tube'). It is 63 kilometres long.
After works undertaken from 1880 to 1902 to widen and deepen the channel, this branch became the most important route for river traffic. The population of Sulina (3,000 in 1860) swelled with the influx of hundreds of immigrants from the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, from the island of Ithaka in particular. To this number were also added the diplomats and other employees of the thirteen consular and vice-consular offices maintained in the busy ports of Tulcea (ancient Greek Aigissos and Byzantine Aigisos) on the Danube, and Constantza (ancient Greek Tomis or Tomoi, Byzantine Constantia or Konstantia) on the Black Sea coast.
Southern branch, Braţul, Sfintu Gheorghe, Saint George (ancient Greek Hieron Stomion, meaning `Holy Mouth'; Byzantine name Hagios Georgios). It is 113 kilometres long. This is the widest and deepest of the three natural channels of the Danube Delta. Despite its meandering and much longer course, this was the main passage for sea-going vessels until works were undertaken on the Sulina.
Related main units
Black Sea
Lower Danube
Key words
Birds of prey.
Black Sea / Euxine Pontus.
Black Sea, west coast.
Cephalonians / Kephallonians.
Danube / Ister.
Danube Delta.
Danube, Lower Danube.
Danube, Maritime Danube.
Fishing, fisheries.
Ionian city-states.
Moldova, country.
Natural environment.
River navigation.
River quay.
Rivers, marshes.
Romania / Rumania.
Theme of Paristrion.