Snake Island

Map of Snake Island

Snake Island (also known as Serpent Island; Ukrainian: ostriv Zmiyinyy, Romanian: Insula şerpilor) lies in the Black Sea off the coasts of Romania and Ukraine. The island is part of the Kiliya Raion (district) of Odessa Oblast, Ukraine. The continental shelf around Snake Island is a subject of the ongoing Romania-initiated protracted litigation before the International Court of Justice (see below).

The island is a limestone formation located 35 km from the coast, east of the mouth of the Danube River. Island's coordinates are 45°15’18’’N and 30°19’15’’E. The island is X-shaped, 662 meters by 440 meters, covering an area of 0.17 km². The highest point is 41 m above the sea level. The island is close to the Ukrainian part of Danube Delta. The nearest city on the coast is Sulina, Romania, which is 45 km away. The closest Ukrainian city is Vilkovo.

Population and Infrastructure

About 100 inhabitants live on the island, mostly frontier guard servicemen with their families and technical personnel. Since 2003 a permanent scientific expedition by Odessa National University has been located on the island.

The island is currently demilitarized and is under rapid development. In accordance with 1997 Treaty between Romania and Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities withdrew an army radio division, demolished military radar, and transferred all other infrastructure to civilians.

addition to a helicopter platform, in 2002 a pier has been build for ships with up to 8 meter draught, and harbour construction is underway. The island is supplied with navigation equipment, including a 150-year old lighthouse. Electric power is provided by a dual wind/diesel power station. The island also has such civil infrastructure as a post office, a bank branch (of Ukrainian bank "Aval"), a first-aid station, satellite television, a phone network, a cell phone tower, and an Internet link.

Image of the Snake Island (captured from helicopter of Ukrainian frontier guards)


The island was named, by the Greeks, Λευκός, Leuce Island ("White Island"), similarly known by Romans as Alba, probably because of the white marble formations that can be found on the isle. The uninhabited Isle Achilleis ("of

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