Žitný island

Zitny island is bounded by Danube from the south, by its distributary Malý Dunaj (Small Danube) from the north and by Váh in a short section in the west. (Also known as Vážsky Dunaj). Malý Dunaj(Small Danube) is disconnecting from  Danube near Bratislava and it flows into Váh near Kolárovo. It is an enormous alluvial cone, which was created Danube under Bratislava in a time period when the river was pruning through Malé Karpaty (Little Carpathians) and flew into the subsiding Malá dunajská kotlina (Small danube basin).

The whole Zitny island is a huge reservoir of groundwater and one of the most fertile areas in Slovakia

It is located in the southwest of Slovakia and thanks to its hospitable climate is considered the most fertile lowland in Slovakia.

The surface of Zitny islan is slowly decreasing from Bratislava to Komárno. There are no major differences in the absolute altitude. Bratislava lies 134 meters above sea level, Komárno lies 108 meters above sea level and Dunajská streda lies 118-119 meters above sea level. This slight difference has occurred because of the progressive accumulation of gravel, sand and flood sludge. The small slope makes the water outflow more difficult.

There are lots of different types of soil on Zitny island. On the west near Podunajské Biskupice and Šamorín, eastern from Dunajská Streda where the water is deep under the surface there are chernozems.  On the periphery of chernozems there are brownearths. Flood-plain soils are located in the western part of Zitny island in following areas: Dunajská Streda, Gabčíkovo, Veľký Meder, Okoč and Komárno. Peaty soils fill up the dead river channels of Danube near Dunajská Streda and Veľký Meder. Licks and other types of wetlands are located between Komárno and Veľký Meder, near Dunajská Streda. Fluvisol soils have appeared in areas where the rivers were wider near the Danube and Malý Dunaj (Small Danube).

Even though Zitny island has the smallest rainfall total in Slovakia (590 millimetres per annum) its biggest treasure is water. There are around 10 billion of high-quality drinkable water underneath the surface, which is being replenished over and over again by the water seeping from the rivers. The Danube and its distributaries were constantly changing their direction, which resulted in alluvial deposits in the form of alluvial flats. They are made of gravel, sand and clay. The amount of groundwater depends on the range, power and permeability of these sediments. Sediments of the Danube on Zitny island south-eastern from Bratislava are 10-15 meters tall, near Čilistov it is more than 150 meters. Between Čilistov, Dunajská Streda and Gabčíkovo it can be as tall as 200 meters and in some parts of Zitny island it is only a few metres. This uneven layout causes different appearance of groundwater. Groundwater is usually 200-700 centimetres underneath the surface, but near the Danube and Malý Dunaj (Small Danube) it is only 100-150 centimetres

Windlessness is a special occurrence on Zitny island. Western and north-western winds are the most common winds. The strongest winds occur in March and the mildest occur in December. It starts to get cold in the middle of October, but this cold weather lasts for only about forty days. Winters without snow are quite common and when it snows, the snow °°rarely lasts for more than a few days. The number of summer days is more than 70. July is the warmest month with the average temperature of 20 °C. The sun shines 2000-2500 hours per annum, while it shines the longest in August and the shortest in December. The number of rainy days is the biggest in winter, but rainfall is the biggest in summer only a bit more than in spring. The average yearly temperature is 9,3 °C. The highest temperature 40 °C was measured  on Friday 20th July 2011. The lowest temperature was measured on 11th February  1929.

Fauna and flora

The ground found in Zitny island is very fertile so most of its areas have been turned into fields and there is only a small number of forests and meadows left. Riparian woodlands can be found along the shores of the Danube. You can find various trees, scrublands, grasses and herbs in the riparian woodlands.  Some examples of trees found in riparian woodlands are gray poplar, black poplar, European white elm, different types of willow and black alder. Small nettle, catchweed, blackberry, dogberry and black elder are scrublands, herbs and grasses found in that area. A special type of vine and black hawthorn are specific for this area. Pannonian oak drought woods with common oak, false plane, cedar elm and brunch berry are also a part of this area. Specific herbs and grasses for this area are for example blue gromwell and lily of valley. Beams of the Danube (for example Klatovske beam) and channels flowing through Zitny island have a very abundant vegetation. Some protected species of plants are white water lily, lily pheasant and others.

Fauna of Zitny island is very diverse.  The most common small animals are rabbits, pheasants and partridges. The most common big mammals are deer and wild boar. Very typical is also great bustard, that is endangered. But, the most common type of an animal is waterfowl. Different types of ducks, gulls, cormorants, grebes and warblers. Mute swan, baldicoot and alarm bird are also significant. Danube and its beams became home to a lot of fish for example: zander, barbel, crucian carp mudguard and lots of others.

The natural environment of Zitny island has been strongly degraded because of the intensive agricultural production, strong winds and water erosion. Another cause of degradation occurring mostly in the north part is the industrial production. The whole coast of the Danube is a protected landscape area. Two biggest national reserves are Cenkovska lesostep and Zlatna na Ostrove. Zlatna na Ostrove is the home to our biggest bird- bustard. Cenkovska lesostep (around 10000 ha) is the only place where ephedra (bird) is found.

Agriculture and industry

Zitny island is very suitable for cultivation of thermophilic crops like corn, wheat, sugar beet, sunflower, oil-seed rape and different types of fruit and vegetables. The most common branches of industry are food industry, machine industry and chemical industry. Dunajska Streda – sugar beet factory Eastern Sugar, meatpacker Taurus. Komarno – river boat production, footwear production. Kolarovo – motorcycle production.

Tourist traffic

The most significant recreational centres are Dunajska Streda, Velky Meder, with bathing establishments visited by tourists from all around the world. Small Zitny island (on the coast of the Danube) near Bodiky, Dobrohosti and Vojke nad Dunajom have recently become popular as well. These parts are visited mostly by residents of Bratislava. Sailing on the Small Danube is also quite popular. Water mills are another interesting part of Zitny island.

History, and historical monuments

According to a certain historical sources it seems, that the ,,island“ as we know it today has been existing for only a few centuries, because before the main watercourse of the Danube was the Small Danube.

This region has a very long history because it has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. This was proven by archaeological findings from around 1300 B.C. Since then this area has been a home to many tribes and nations. Celts´ and Etruscans´ culture had a huge impact on local people, but the biggest influence was there during the Ancient Roman times. The ancestors of Slovak people have settled here in the 6th century. The area has been a part of the Nitra principality and Great Moravia in the 9th century then in the 10th century it became a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hungarian citizens settled here in the end of the Middle Ages and at the beginning of Modern Time.

The Hungarian name ,,Csallókőz“ comes from the name of a Hungarian river ,,Csalló“, then a Hungarian ending -kőz was added. Other names are for example: Challow 1209, Challovkus 1269, Challowo 1291, portus Chalow 1291 etc.The name Zitny island is a modern name, that first appeared in 1919. It might have originated from a Slovak word žito (rye) and from a German term Grosse Schűtt, Schűttinsel.

Some significant historical monuments are Zlty kastiel (Yellow maner-house) in Dunajska Streda, which was built in a baroque style in the 18th century. Inside Zlty kastiel there is a Zitny island museum. Vermes´ Mansion is another interesting historical monument. There is an art gallery dedicated to modern Hungarian artists (Kortárs Magyar Galéria)