Danube River Basin Overview Map

This overview map shows a basin that is home to over 80 million people.

  • Four capital cities are directly located on the Danube River (Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade)
  • Five capitals are connected via tributaries (Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Sofia and Bucharest).  
  • The territories of Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Austria are entirely or almost entirely within the basin
  • Romania has the largest share of human population in the Basin (more than 26 %)

River basins, defined by their natural geographical and hydrological borders, are the logical units for the management of waters. This innovative approach to water management is promoted by the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Following the WFD, any river basin, such as the Danube, covering the territory of more than one country, requires an international river basin district to be created for the coordination of work in this district. This is why we refer in general usage and on this map to the ‘Danube River Basin District’ (DRBD). The Danube and its tributaries, lakes, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater form the DRBD, illustrated on the map.

For efficiency, proportionality and subsidiarity, the management of the DRBD is based on three levels of coordination: International (“basin-wide” or “roof level”), national/sub-basin, and sub-unit level (within a country).

The ICPDR serves as the coordinating platform to address multilateral and basin-wide issues at the roof level of the DRBD. The investigations, analyses and findings at this basin-wide scale focus on rivers with catchment areas larger than 4,000 km², lakes with a surface area larger than 100 km², plus transitional waters, coastal waters, and transboundary groundwater bodies of basin-wide importance.

Waters with smaller catchment and surface areas are subject to planning at sub-basin level, national level (managed through the competent authorities shown on the map) or at sub-unit level. All of this planning combined provides a full set of information for the whole DRBD, covering all waters (surface as well as groundwater), irrespectively of their size. The different levels allow for more detailed planning where necessary, ensuring effective overall coordination.

The interconnectedness of the region as shown on the map, makes it clear how successfully achieving all of the management goals requires continuous and consistent international coordination and cooperation throughout the Danube Basin and between all ICPDR member states.



  • » River Basin
    The Danube River Basin is Europe's second largest river basin, with a total area of 801,463 km². It is the world's most international river basin as it includes the territories of 19 countries. The ecosystems of the Danube River Basin are highly valuable in environmental, economic, historical and social terms, but they are subject to increasing pressure and serious pollution from agriculture, industry and cities.
  • » Countries of the Danube River Basin
    19 countries share the Danube River Basin, which makes it the world’s most international river basin. More than 81 million people of different cultures and languages call the Danube Basin their home, for centuries they have been interconnected through the widely ramified water system of the Danube. All countries sharing over 2,000 km² of the Danube River Basin and the European Union are contracting parties of the ICPDR.
  • » River Basin Management
    The best way to protect and manage water is by close international co-operation between all the countries within the river basin – bringing together all interests upstream and downstream. All countries of the European Union are using a river basin approach for water management since the adoption of the EU Water Framework Directive.


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