The Danube (ancient Danuvius, Istros) is the longest river of the European Union and Europe's second-longest (after the Volga). It originates in the Black Forest in Germany as two smaller rivers—the Brigach and the Breg—which join at Donaueschingen, and it is from here that it is known as the Danube, flowing generally eastwards for a distance of some 2 850 km (1 771 miles), passing through several Central and Eastern European capitals, before emptying into the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania.
The Danube has been an important international waterway for centuries, as it remains today. Known to history as one of the long-standing frontiers of the Roman Empire, the river flows through—or forms a part of the borders of ten countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine; in addition, the drainage basin includes parts of ten more countries: Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, and Albania.
The names of the river (German: Donau, Slovak: Dunaj, Albanian: Danubi, Polish: Dunaj, Hungarian: Duna, Croatian: Dunav, Serbian: Dunav, Bulgarian: Dunav, Romanian: Dunare, Ukrainian: Dunay, Latin: Danuvius, Turkish: Tuna, Slovene: Donava) are all ultimately derived from the Proto-Indo-European danu, meaning "river" or "stream". Still nowadays don in Ossetic language means both "water" and "river".
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