Belene Island (остров Белене, also known as Persin Island, остров Персин) is the biggest island in Bulgarian waters. The island is formed by the Danube River splitting into two branches passing north and south of the island. The international frontier between Bulgaria and Romania follows the north branch of the river and therefore Belene Island is part of Bulgarian territory. It is 14.5 km long and reaching 6 km in width and is located in the Danube, near the town of Belene. Belene Island is the fourth biggest Danube island.
Belene Island is a part of the Belene Islands Complex and of the Persina Natural Park, a home to over 170 species of rare water birds, such as the Glossy Ibis, Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-breasted Goose and others.
The island is infamous for the concentration camp that functioned there. This camp operated officially from 1949 to 1962, though a break in deportations to Belene occurred from 1954 to 1956) but, in fact, it remained open until 1989. The enemies of the communist regime in Bulgaria, including particular Turks in Bulgaria who were resisting the policies (such as changing Turkish names and surnames to Bulgarian ones) of the communist regime, were sent to perform hard labour there. During those years, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation broadcasted a series named "Belene Adası" (Belene Island) on the policies of the Bulgarian government against Bulgarian Turks. Belene Prison is still operating as a penitentiary in the western part of the island, while the eastern part is a managed natural reserve.