Danube river

   "The Beautiful Blue Danube" is the name of a famous waltz written by Johann Strauss, who lived in Vienna, a big city on the Danube River. The Danube is not really bluer than other rivers. But in many places it is beautiful. It is, moreover, one of the most important rivers in the world.
   The Danube rises in the Black Forest in southern Germany. From there it flows southeast into the Black Sea. By air it is less than 1,000 miles from the place where the Danube rises to its mouth in the Black Sea. But the river wanders about so much that it is more than 1,700 miles long. Next to the Volga, it is the longest river in Europe. More than 300 branches flow into it. A canal connects it to the Rhine River.
   Eight different countries border the Dan­ube. The capitals of three of them are on the river. One is Vienna, the capital of Austria. The second is Budapest, the capi­tal of Hungary. The third is Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia.
   In places the Danube flows sleepily across level farmland. In one spot it spreads out so that it is like a broad lake. Many farrn villages are on its banks. In other places it rushes between steep cliffs. Old castles are perched on some of these cliffs. One gorge through which it passes in the mountains to the east of Belgrade is called the Iron Gate.
   For hundreds of years the Danube has been a great highway. Armies have marched along its valley. Boats have carried goods up and down it. Before World War II the flags of a dozen countries could be seen flying from the boats on the river. Now travel along it is less free than it was then.