The Rhine[lower-alpha 2] is one of the major European rivers. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps. It forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, and Swiss-German borders. After that the Rhine defines much of the Franco-German border, after which it flows in a mostly northerly direction through the German Rhineland. Finally in Germany the Rhine turns into a predominantly westerly direction and flows into the Netherlands where it eventually empties into the North Sea. It drains an area of 9,973 sq km and its name derives from the Celtic Rēnos. There are also two German states named after the river, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.

The Rhine in Basel, Switzerland
Map of the Rhine basin
EtymologyCeltic Rēnos
Native name
Rhine Basin
RegionCentral and Western Europe
Largest cities
Physical characteristics
SourceRein Anteriur/Vorderrhein
  locationTomasee (Romansh: Lai da Tuma), Surselva, Graubünden, Switzerland
  coordinates46°37′57″N 8°40′20″E
  elevation2,345 m (7,694 ft)
2nd sourceRein Posteriur/Hinterrhein
  locationParadies Glacier, Graubünden, Switzerland
Source confluenceReichenau
  locationTamins, Graubünden, Switzerland
  coordinates46°49′24″N 9°24′27″E
  elevation585 m (1,919 ft)
MouthNorth Sea
51°58′54″N 4°4′50″E
0 m (0 ft)
Length1,230 km (760 mi)[lower-alpha 1]
Basin size185,000 km2 (71,000 sq mi)
  average2,900 m3/s (100,000 cu ft/s)
  minimum800 m3/s (28,000 cu ft/s)
  maximum13,000 m3/s (460,000 cu ft/s)

Current calculations of the CHR and EUWID attest massive decrease or even drying out of the river within the next 30–80 years caused by the climate crisis.[3][4]

It is the second-longest river in Central and Western Europe (after the Danube), at about 1,230 km (760 mi),[lower-alpha 1][lower-alpha 3] with an average discharge of about 2,900 m3/s (100,000 cu ft/s).

The Rhine and the Danube comprised much of the Roman Empire's northern inland boundary, and the Rhine has been a vital navigable waterway bringing trade and goods deep inland since those days. The various castles and defenses built along it attest to its prominence as a waterway in the Holy Roman Empire. Among the largest and most important cities on the Rhine are Cologne, Rotterdam, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Strasbourg, Arnhem, and Basel.

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