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Navigation and Commerce
Under the Roman Empire (when it was known as Danubius and, in its lower course, as Ister), the Danube was the northern border against the barbarian world. As Rome declined, the Danubian plains for centuries attracted invading hordes—Goths, Huns, Avars, Magyars, Pechenegs, Cumans, Mongols, and others. The Danube increased in commercial importance in the era of the Crusades, but commerce suffered (15th–16th cent.) after the Turks gained control of its course from the Hungarian plain to the Black Sea. In the 19th cent. the Danube's economic importance as an international waterway increased. At the end of the Crimean War the Congress of Paris appointed (1856) a commission to clear the delta (below Brăila) of obstructions.
By the Treaty of Versailles (1919) the Danube was internationalized and a commission established with jurisdiction over the course from Ulm to Brăila. Germany repudiated the internationalization in 1936 and in 1939–40 forced both the navigation and international commissions to dissolve. After World War II, delegates from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, and France met (1948) to determine the status of the Danube. When a commission representing only the seven riparian nations was established, the three Western nations refused to sign the convention. Subsequently, the riparian nations established a new Danube commission, based at Budapest; present membership includes Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
(Greek, ístros; German, Donau; Hungarian, Duna; Bulgarian and Serbian, Dunav; Czech, Dunaj; Rumanian, Dunarea; Russian, Dunai), a river in Europe, second longest river after the Volga. It is 2,850 km long, drains an area of 817,000 sq km, and has a total drop of 678 m. The Danube originates on the eastern slopes of the Black Forest (in the Federal Republic of Germany) and empties into the Black Sea, forming a delta. Located completely or partially in the Danube River basin are Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Federal Republic of Germany, and part of the USSR, as well as small parts of Switzerland, Italy, and Poland.
Physicogeographical survey. According to the nature of its flow, the Danube is divided into the upper, middle, and lower courses.
The Upper Danube (to Vienna) is a typical mountain river. It flows within the bounds of the Black Forest, the Swabian-Bavarian plateau, and the narrow gap between the Alps and the Czech massif. The narrow and deep river valley has high and steep slopes. The width of the river’s channel to the city of Ulm ranges from 20 to 100 m and below that (to Vienna), from 100 to 350 m. The velocity of flow varies from 1 to 2.8 m/sec. In places the channel is protected by straightening and protective dams and dikes.
The Middle Danube (from Vienna to the gorge of the Iron Gate) cuts across the Hungarian (Danube) Plain. Here the valley is wide (5-20 km) and consists of floodplains; the river channel is meandering and branched, and the current velocity of flow varies from 0.3 to 1.1 m/sec. In places the river cuts through individual ridges and mountain ranges, thus forming gorges (the Hungarian Gates, Visegrád Gorge, Iron Gate, and Cazane Defile). In these sections the width of the valley ranges from 0.6 to 1.5 km. In places the flow narrows to 150 m, whereas the depth increases considerably (as much as 15-20 m and in the Cazane Defile, as much as 70 m) as does the velocity of flow (as much as 2.2-4.7 m/sec). As the result of regulatory operations, the meanders have been straightened, channels have been branched off, and embankments have been constructed.
The Lower Danube (from the Iron Gate to the river’s mouth) is a plain river that flows through the Walachian Plain at the bottom of a wide (7-20 km) floodplain valley; it separates into numerous branches and channels. In places the river’s width reaches 1-2 km; the river has an average depth of between 5 and 7 m and a velocity of flow ranging from 0.5 to 1 m/sec. In the delta, which has an area of 3,500 sq km, the Danube separates into three main branches: the Kilia, Sulina (the principal navigable branch), and St. George.
The Danube has a complex regime with three, well-defined phases—the spring high-water period, the summer and autumn freshets, and the autumn and winter low-water periods. The spring high water begins anywhere from February to April, lasting on the Upper and Middle Danube until May and on the Lower Danube, until June. It generally consists of two peaks. The first peak is the result of snow melting in the plains and the second (mixed), of the rains and the melting snow in the mountains. The unevenness of the snow melting and the erratic rainfall in various parts of the Danube River basin cause sharp variations in the water level. If the peaks of the high-water period or summer freshets of the Danube’s major tributaries—the Drava, the Tisza, and the Sava—coincide in time, then an enormous, common peak is formed on the Danube, which sometimes brings about flooding. During the second half of the summer the water level decreases; it sometimes rises slightly as a result of rain freshets. In October and November rains cause autumn freshets. In warm winters with thaws, high levels are also observed; the increased levels are often connected with obstructions and ice jams, which cause the river to overflow its banks and inundate the adjacent plains. During cold winters the water levels on the Danube are at their lowest. The annual magnitude of the Danube’s water-level changes varies from 4.5.5 m (at Reni) to 6-8 m (at Budapest). The Upper Danube’s (at Regensburg) mean annual flow rate is 420 cu m/sec; at Vienna (in the middle course), it is 1,900 cu m/sec and at its mouth, 6,430 cu m/sec (making an average annual flow of approximately 203 cu km). The greatest discharge in the lower reaches is about 20,000 cu m/sec and the least, 1,800 cu m/sec. The Danube empties about 120 million tons of silt and dissolved mineral substances annually into the Black Sea. The river freezes only during relatively cold winters (for about 1½ months).
More than 300 tributaries flow into the Danube, and of these, 34 are navigable. The largest tributaries on the right are the Inn, Drava, Sava, and Morava and on the left, the Morava, Tisza, Oltul, Siretul, and Prut.
A. P. MURANOV
Economic geographical survey. The Danube has long played a large role in the commercial traffic of Central and South-eastern Europe.
Since the war, two-thirds of the river’s entire course flows within the territory of socialist countries. The rapid economic growth of these countries, a greater international division of labor, and the construction of major industrial enterprises on the banks of the Danube (at Galaţi, Braîla, Smederevo, Budapest, Dunáujvaros, Bratislava, and other cities) have created a basis for considerably increasing the freight transport (from 13.9 million tons in 1937 to 46.7 million tons in 1969, more than 40 million tons of which is transported by socialist countries) as well as the merchant fleet (see Table 1).
|Table 1. Distribution by countries of freight transport and merchant fleet on the Danube|
|Volume of freight (tons)||Fleet|
|Total||Including international||Number of units||Total freight capacity (tons)|
|Federal Republic of Germany...............||2,240,000||1,463,000||115,000||74,000|
Ore and other raw materials are the principal goods transported on the river. These include iron ore as well as scrap (56 percent), followed by cement (11.5 percent), solid mineral fuels (9.8 percent), petroleum and petroleum products (11.3 percent), metal, fertilizers, and wood. There are more than 100 ports and landings on the navigable section of the Danube (below the city of Regensburg). In 1969 the freight turnover of the largest of these totaled (in millions of tons): Reni, 8.3; Izmail, 5.3; Budapest, 4.2; Linz, 4.3; and Belgrade, 4.9. That same year some 4.6 million passengers were transported along the Danube.
The socialist countries in the Danube region have worked out a plan for the overall use of the river’s hydroelectric resources, the theoretical potential of which has been estimated at 73 billion kW-hrs. Plans are under way to create 11 hydroengineering complexes (consisting of power plants, canals, dams, and the like) on the Danube with a total capacity of more than 5.7 million kW. The largest of these (2.1 million kW) has been built by Rumania and Yugoslavia with the technical assistance of the Soviet Union at the Iron Gate (the first units were put into operation in 1970). On the Austrian section of the Danube, a chain of 14 hydroelectric power plants is under construction. Extensive use is also being made of the hydroelectric resources of some of the Danube’s tributaries—the Váh, Drava, Tisza, Isker, and Argeş, among others.
The waters of the Danube and its tributaries are used for irrigation, particularly in Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, as well as for supplying water to cities and industrial centers. The average annual fish catch on the Danube totals between 550,000 and 650,000 centners (hundred-weight), most of it from the Lower Danube. Located in the river’s delta (300,000 hectares) are large supplies of reeds, which are utilized in the production of cellulose (in Brăila).
Prospects for navigation on the Danube are linked with the construction of hydroengineering complexes and the attainment of guaranteed depths (3-3.5 m) as well as with the construction of canals, which are to connect the Danube with the basins of the Rhine, Elbe, and Oder.
V. P. MAKSAKOVSKII
Legal regime. The Danube is an international river, the regulations for the use of which are established by special international agreements. There have been three well-defined stages in the problem of regulating the Danube: the period of bilateral treaties (1774-1856), the period of multilateral agreements with the participation of non-Danubian states (1856-1945), and the democratic statute of the Danube following World War II. Of very great importance for establishing a Danube regime was the Kuchuk-Kainarji Treaty, concluded between Russia and Turkey in 1774, according to which Russia obtained the right of navigation on the Lower Danube. In accordance with the peace treaties concluded by Russia and Turkey in 1812, 1826, and 1829, Russia obtained complete control over navigation on certain principal branches of the Danube (the Kilia, Sulina, and St. George) as well as over navigation on the Lower Danube. The Anglo-Austrian and Russo-Austrian conventions of 1838 and 1840 set forth the principle of free navigation along the Danube.
The stage of regulation within a system of multilateral agreements began with the Crimean War of 1853-56. Based on the Paris Treaty of 1856, the European Commission of the Danube was established, which included Austria, Russia, and a number of non-Danubian states (France, Great Britain, Prussia, Sardinia, and Turkey). In fact, this commission, which became a weapon for the domination of the Danube by the nonriparian states, remained in operation until World War I. The commission had its own flag, administration, fleet, police, and court; it could forbid Danubian countries to construct port and hydroelectric engineering structures and the like.
After World War I (1914-18), the imperialist states waged a struggle to preserve their privileges in controlling the Danube. A special conference for working out a Danube statute was convoked in Paris in August 1920. It was attended, for the most part, by representatives of the non-Danubian states (Soviet Russia was not allowed to participate in this conference). On July 23, 1921, a convention and a concluding protocol were adopted concerning the navigation regime on the Danube as well as a resolution providing for the establishment of two commisions, which became agencies of control of navigation on the Danube. For the so-called maritime Danube (from its mouth to Ulm), the European Commission of the Danube was reestablished, including France, Great Britain, Italy, and Rumania. For the section of the Danube between Ulm and Brăila and the network of river routes that were declared to be international, the International Danube Commission was formed, which included representatives of the riparian countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Rumania) and the nonriparian powers (Great Britain, Italy, and France). Soviet Russia was barred from both commissions. These Danube commissions had extensive powers and did not take into consideration the sovereign rights of the riparian states; their creation facilitated the strengthening of the influence of the imperialist states on the Danube. In 1936, Germany left the International Danube Commission, and after Germany’s seizure of Austria (1938) and Czechoslovakia (1938-39), the representatives of these countries also left the commission.
After World War II (1939-45), the question of the Danube regime was raised at the Potsdam Conference, at sessions of the Council of Foreign Ministers, and at the Paris Conference of 1946. A new, democratic statute of navigation was worked out at the Belgrade Conference of 1948, in which representatives of the Danubian states (the USSR, the Ukrainian SSR, Rumania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia) participated, as well as representatives of the USA, Great Britain, and France, as members of the Council of Foreign Ministers; Austria also took part with a consultative vote. The conference worked out a new convention concerning the navigational regime on the Danube (it was signed Aug. 18, 1948, and went into effect May 11, 1949). The representatives of Great Britain, the USA, and France, who had attempted to restore the provisions of the 1921 convention, refused to sign the 1948 convention. In accordance with the 1948 convention the unified Danube Commission was created of representatives of the Danubian states; administration and control over navigation on the Danube belongs directly to these Danubian countries. The competence of the Danube Commission includes control over the implementation of the 1948 convention, the establishment of a unified navigational system, the standardization of the rules for river and health inspections, and the drawing up of a general plan for the principal projects in the interests of navigation based on proposals of the Danubian countries and those of the specialized river administrations. The 1948 convention ensures the sovereign rights of the Danubian states and, at the same time, also considers the interests of other states using the Danube for transportation.
K. P. VOSHCHENKOV
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