The Danube Delta (Romanian: Delta Dunării; Ukrainian: Дельта Дунаю, Del'ta Dunaju) 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 km², of which 3446 km² are in Romania. If the lagoons of Razim-Sinoe (1015 km² of which 865 km² water surface; situated in the south, but attached to the Danube Delta from geological and ecological perspectives, as well as being the combined territory of the World Heritage Site) are to be added, the considered area of the Danube Delta grows to 5165 km².
Some 300 species of birds make Danube’s Delta their home, including cormorants, white tailed eagles and glossy ibises. The bird watching season lasts from early spring to late summer. Birds are not the only inhabitants of the Delta. There is also a rich community of fish and animals, from wildcats, foxes and wolves, to even an occasional boar or deer. Altogether, 3,450 animal species can be seen here, as well as 1,700 plant species.
Travelers can spend three or more days exploring its passages, teaming with the highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe. The maze of canals bordered by thatch, willows and oaks entangled in lianas, offers the perfect breeding ground for countless species of birds, some of them from as far away as China and Africa. Millions of Egyptian white pelicans arrive here every spring to raise their young, while equal numbers of Arctic geese come here to escape the harsh winters of Northern Europe.
The Delta can be explored as part of a Danube River Cruise, or on day trips and boat excursions from Tulcea which has good hotels, restaurants specializing in fish dishes and the Museum of the Danube Delta.
The Danube River is the most international river on the planet - its course runs across — or forms a part of the borders of several countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and four capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River.The Delta is formed around the three main channels of the Danube, named after their respective ports: Chilia (in the north), Sulina (in the middle), and Sfantu Gheorghe (in the south).The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world (over 5,500 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador.The Danube Delta is home to over 60% of the world’s population of pygmy cormorants (phalacrocorax pygmeus), 50% of red-breasted geese (branta ruficollis) and the largest number of white pelicans (pelecanus onocrotalus) and Dalmatian pelicans (pelecanus crispus) in Europe.It also is home to the world’s largest reed bed expanse – 625, 000 acres / 240,000 ha.Some 15,000 people inhabit the Delta area, living in 28 villages and one city (Sulina).The area was first attested by Herodot of Halicarnas (484 – 425 B.C.).More then half of the Delta Biosphere Reserve is virtually intact.