The Rhine


During the past centuries the Rhine has undergone considerable structural and functional changes. Its expansion to the busiest and most important European inland waterway starting 130 years ago and its use for industrial draining starting around the same time caused the river to become increasingly desolate ecologically.

Due to far-reaching measures the Rhine is again in good shape today. The vision of a river which can tolerate all the uses assigned to it in the long run has come within reach.

In order to cope with all these uses a sound ecological system is indispensable. In the past years further aspects have come up emphasizing the Rhine :

Flood protection along the densely populated shores of the Rhine is gaining importance. The protection of human life and material values should be improved. At the same time changes in the course of the river due to construction and climatic changes will be taken into account.

Length of the River 1 320 kms
Size of catchment area 185 000 kms²
Population in the catchment area close to 50 million
Drinking water from the Rhine Directly or indirectly from the Rhine approx. 30 million

Countries in the catchment area

Germany approx. 100 000 kms 2
Switzerland , France , Netherlands approx. 20 000 to 30 000 kms 2 each
Austria and Luxemburg approx. 2 500 kms 2 each
Italy , Liechtenstein , Belgium small part each


Vorder- and Hinterrhein Switzerland

Six sections

Alpine Rhine from confluence of headstreams near Reichenau ( Switzerland to Lake Constance )
High Rhine outlet Lower Lake to Basle
Upper Rhine Basle to Bingen
Central Rhine Bingen to Cologne
Lower Rhine Cologne to Lobith
Rheindelta Lobith to North Sea

Important tributaries

Aare Switzerland
Neckar Germany
Main Germany
Nahe Germany
Mosel Germany
Ruhr Germany
Lippe Germany