Rhine River Facts

Rhine River Facts
The Rhine River is Central and Western Europe's second longest river. It flows 764 miles from the Swiss Alps to the Netherlands into the North Sea. The Rhine forms a portion of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian border, and the Swiss-German and Franco-German border. The Rhine has been an important transportation route since the days of the Roman Empire, when many of the castles lining its waterway were built. Before the Roman Empire controlled the Rhine, the region was within Francia's borders. During the 19th and 20th centuries several canals were built that altered the Rhine River's original course and shortened it.
Interesting Rhine River Facts:
The Rhine River's name is derived from a Celtic word 'Rēnos'.
The Rhine River is called different names depending on which country it is flowing through. In Netherlands it is Rijn. In France it is Rhine. In Germany it is Rhein.
The Rhine River flows through or along several countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, and Liechtenstein.
The Rhine River watershed (area of land drained by the river) is 71,429 square miles in size. Its basin includes Luxembourg, Italy, and Belgium.
The Rhine River's primary source is Vorherrhein at Tomasee, Surselva, in Switzerland.
The Rhine River's secondary source is Hinterrhein, at Paradies Glacier, Switzerland.
Tributaries to the Rhine River include Rein de Curnera, Valser Rhine, Rabiusa, Plessur, Aach, Bregenzer Ache, Leiblach, Argen, Schussen, Rotach, Linzer aach, Thur, Wutach, Alb, Moselle, Lahn, Wupper, and many more.
Major cities along the Rhine include Basel, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Leverkusen, Neuss, Krefeld, Duisburg, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Utrecht, and Rotterdam.
Prior to the construction of canals along the Rhine, its length was 820 miles. After the canals were constructed the length of the Rhine decreased to 764 miles.
In the Swiss Alps where the Rhine begins it is only a stream. It gathers volume and by the time it reaches Lake Constance it is important to southern Germany for drinking water.
The Rhine Falls are a famous waterfall located at Schaffhausen.
In 1986 a chemical factory fire in Switzerland resulted in severely polluting the already polluted river. The toxic chemicals killed millions of fish and wildlife that lived along the Rhine River. It only took 10 days for the toxic chemicals to reach the North Sea.
The Rhine Action Plan was put into place to improve the quality of water in the Rhine after the 1986 disaster. Although the Rhine is not pollution-free, the efforts resulted in the return of salmon, which are a species of fish very sensitive to the quality of water they will live in.
The Rhine River is a popular tourist river cruise route today. The boats used for the tourists are usually river barges.
There are many UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the Rhine River including Luxembourg's Old Quarters and Fortifications; Germany's Speyer Catherdral, Wurzburg Residence, Roman Monuments, Town of Bamberg, Koln Cathedral, and the Upper Middle Rhine Valley; Belgium's La Grande-Place and Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, and Plantin-Moretus Museum; France's Grande Grande île; and Netherland's Defense Line and 17th Century Canal Ring.

Related Links:
Rivers Facts
Animals Facts
Rivers Facts for Kids
German History Timeline
Rhenium Facts
Roman Empire Timeline
Ancient Roman Wars and Battles Timeline