Danube, River (German: Donau): With a total length of 2,850 km, the Danube is the second longest river in Europe after the Volga. It springs as the two small streams of Brigach and Breg in the Black Forest and flows into the Black Sea through a five-armed delta. Contrary to custom, the flow rate of the Danube is counted from the estuary to the source and not vice versa as with other rivers. The name Danube or Donau is of Celtic origin (Indo-European: danu = river). The Danube is the only European waterway flowing from west to east. The upper Danube goes back to the "primal Danube", which may have arisen in the Miocene (Tertiary) period.
Together with the eastern Alps ( Alps), the Danube has been the most important factor in shaping the Austrian landscape. Frequent changes between narrowing and widening valleys are characteristic of the Danube landscape: From West to East, these valleys are: Passau Valley, Eferding Basin, Linz Gates, Linz-Ardagger Basin, Machland, Strudengau Valley, Nibelungengau region, Wachau Valley, Tulln Basin, Wiener Pforte Gap, Vienna Basin, Marchfeld Plain and the Hungarian Gates. Here the Danube leaves Austrian territory between the Hundsheim mountains and the western Carpathian Mountains (Thebner Kogel mountain). The mean rate of volume at the Vienna Reichsbruecke amounts to 1922 m3/sec., the average inclination of the Danube riverbed on Austrian territory is 156 m. The water quality of the river ranges from Class II west of Vienna to Class II-III (of four classes) east of Vienna.
The Danube is Austria's main river and has the highest water level in mid-summer and the lowest in January. Hydrographically, 96% of the Austrian territory belongs to the Danube catchment area (the Drau/Drava river also flows into the Danube). The main right-bank tributaries ( Rivers) in Austria are the rivers Traun, Enns, Ybbs, Erlauf, Pielach, Traisen, Schwechat, Fischa and Leitha (which joins the Danube on Hungarian territory); left-bank tributaries include the rivers Grosse Muehl, Aist, Krems and Kamp.
The Danube holds a special position among central European rivers on account of its fauna (approximately 70 species), some of which can only be found in its river system. Endangered species of fish include zingel, gobio uranoscopus and huchen; frequent species are eels, minnows, carps, tenches, barbels, breams, mud minnows, pikes and welses.
For the Austrian economy, the Danube has always been a trade route of the highest importance. As early as the 13th century, the upper course of the river had about 80 customs stations and toll gates. Teams of up to 40 horses pulled ships upstream on the towpath ("Treppelweg", "Treidelweg" or "Hufschlag"), covering distances up to 20 km per day. In addition, special types of barges and riverboats such as the Traun barges from the Traun River, the Hall barges, Tyrolean barges and the so-called "Inngamsen" from the Inn river could be found on the Danube. Since 1616 the right of the countries bordering the Danube to make use of the river has been laid down in a number of agreements ( Danube Commission). In 1948, the Belgrade Danube Conference decided to exclude all countries not bordering the Danube from all decisions concerning the river. Austria joined in 1960. There was already regular passenger and goods traffic from Regensburg to Vienna by 1696, for example on the so-called "Ordinarischiffe" ("scheduled ships") from Ulm. Because of the increasing importance of the waterway ( Danube shipping), numerous river regulation projects were undertaken. As early as 1770/80, the dangerous rocks at the "Boese Beuge" (Persenbeug), the "dangerous bend", were removed, and the rapids and eddies near Grein and in the Strudengau were tamed. In the middle of the19th century, more dangerous rocks were blasted away, for example the much-feared "Schwalleck", which had been the cause of perilous rapids near Grein. River regulation in Upper Austria took place from 1830 to 1870 (Eferding basin), in Lower Austria from 1870 in the section extending from the Ysper river to Vienna; in Vienna 1870-1875 and 1882-1905. In 1829, the Erste Donau-Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft (DDSG) was founded; as early as 1830 the first steamer was travelling the Vienna-Pest route, 1837 to Linz and 1838 to Passau.
For Vienna, the Danube represented a long-distance traffic route and a feeder route. After passing the narrow section between the Vienna Woods and Bisamberg Hill (Vienna Gates), the Danube reached a plain forming several side-arms, where it caused frequent flooding. Here the river was first bridged in 1439 (further bridges were built at Krems, 1463, and Linz, 1497). Regulation of the river stretching from Kahlenberg to Fischamend took place from 1869 to 1875. The rivers branching off from the Danube were joined together into one straight-flowing "great Danube" and seven bridges were built. On the left bank, a large inundation area was created. The southern tributary of the Danube, now known as the Donaukanal was developed, the rest of a left-bank branch has remained as the Alte Donau(Old Danube). With the Neue Donau (New Danube), to the left of the main river (partly replacing the inundation area), a popular leisure area ( Donauinsel) was created in the 1980s, with water sports facilities and cycling routes. The Neue Donau replaced the previous inundation area as a flood protection area. From 1992-1998, the construction of a barrage power station began south of Vienna (Freudenau), the last major power station to be built in Austria. The construction of barrage power stations on the Danube between Vienna and the Hungarian border ( Occupation of Hainburg Au). For other power stations on the Danube see Donaukraft.
In 1995, Austrian ships carried 418,717 passengers on the Danube. Today, commercial traffic mainly involves bulk cargoes (see table). The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal has led to a long-term increase in freight traffic. The important Danube Ports are Linz and Vienna, with a protected harbour at Krems. A winter harbour was established where the Donaukanal joins the Danube at Vienna, other harbours followed on the right bank ( Kuchelau, Stromhafen, Freudenau, Albern) The Lobau oil harbour was built at the already established confluence of the Donau-Oder-Kanal. Pipelines bring natural gas from the gas fields in the north over suspension bridges ("Barbara bridges") across the river to the Schwechat refinery. The shipyards in Linz and Korneuburg produced riverboats and tugs, as well as ships for sea transport. Since the closure of the Korneuburg shipyard in 1994, the Linz yard has remained the only active shipyard ( Shipbuilding) in Austria.
In 1998, eight operating hydroelectric stations in the Danube generated about 12.4 billion kWh electricity for the Austrian national grid. Bridges over the Danube: Niederranna- Wesenufer (road bridge, 1980), Aschach- Oberlandshaag (road bridge, 1964), Linz (2 road bridges, 1941, 1972, 1 railway bridge, 1900), Steyregg (1 road bridge, 1979, 1 railway bridge, 1873), Mauthausen (1 road bridge, 1962, 1 railway bridge, 1872), Wallsee (reservoir barrier, 1968), Grein- Tiefenbach (road bridge, 1968), Ybbs- Persenbeug (reservoir barrier, 1959), Melk (road bridge, 1972), Mautern (road bridge, 1950), Krems (1 road bridge, 1969, 1 railway bridge, 1889), Tulln (2 road bridges, 1950, 1995, 1 railway bridge, 1875), Vienna (6 road bridges, 1872/1964, 1970, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1997, 2 railway bridges, 1838/74, 1870, 1 bridge for the Underground, 1995, 1 bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, 1996) and Bad Deutsch-Altenburg (road bridge, 1972). Several ferries.
Literature#Der Donauraum, quarterly, 1956ff.; E. Neweklowsky, Schiffahrt und Floesserei im Raum der oberen Donau, 2 vols., 1952-1954; H. Lajta, Land an der Donau zwischen Passau und Pressburg, 1986; Die Donau. Facetten eines Stromes, exhibition catalogue, Engelhartszell 1994; Donauatlas Wien, 1996.