Rhine River Information

The Rhine river is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe. It is more than 1300km long and has an average discharge of 2000m³/s.

The Rhine, together with the Danube, used to form the northern boundaries of the Roman empire and since this period have remained a very important navigable waterway. It had and still has different uses, whether it is commercial, or just enjoyed as a leisure area.

As it is easy to see when travelling on or along the Rhine river, there are many castles, fortifications and historic places that testify of the importance of the area through the History.

Rhine River Geography

The Rhine river originates in the Alps, and more particularly at the Massif du Saint-Gothard, in eastern Switzerland. The Rhine river itself really starts at the point of confluence of the 'anterior Rhine' and of the 'posterior Rhine'. After passing by the Lake Constance, it goes on to the waterfalls near Schaffhouse. The Rhine river then goes up north, where the Ill river and the Lauter river are its main tributaries on the west. Then in Mayence, the Rhine river is joined by the Main river, to then enter in an area called the 'heroic valley' because of the way it looks with its many castles and narrowed banks. It finally reaches the sea and is joined by the Meuse river.

The Rhine river bed goes across six countries in total, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The Rhine river itself forms the natural border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein, between Switzerland and Austria, between Germany and Switzerland and between Germany and France.

Rhine River Economy

The Rhine river area has a huge economical activity. It is indeed the most developed and active part in Europe, with a lot of industries of all sectors. In terms of activity, this region is one of the most dynamic in Europe and even in the world. This area is also the most densely populated in Europe, leading to a lot of exchanges of all sorts.

This region has developed because of its huge coal mines that used to be mined in the past. It kept its importance because despite of the decline of coal mining, the Rhine river region knew how to turn to new technologies and to new industries.

Since the 1868 convention of Mannheim, Rhine river waters have been classified as international waters from Basel to the North Sea, thus allowing Switzerland to have a free access to the sea.

The Rhine river area is also an important zone for the energy sector. There are indeed 5 nuclear power stations on the Rhine banks, using the Rhine water as a cooling system.