The Danube River flows through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. Its headwaters begin with the confluence of the Brigach and Breg rivers in the town of Donaueschingen in western Germany's mountainous Black Forest region and empties into the Black Sea at the Danube Delta in western Ukraine.
The Danube River flows for a total of 1,770 miles, making it the European Union's longest river and the European continent's second longest river after the Volga. This river passes through many important cities, including four national capitals: Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; and Belgrade, Serbia. The Danube's drainage basin covers an area of 315,000 square miles and extends into several more countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania.
The Danube was home to some of the earliest human cultures in Europe, and its long navigable length has made it an important highway for trade and war for thousands of years. It was a prize for which the Ottoman, Hungarian and Austrian Empires contended for hundreds of years. Today, it is still a major thoroughfare for trade, and it also provides drinking water for around 20 million people. People also use the Danube for fishing and for tours of the historical riches along its length.