Rhine, Country passings and borders

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The Rhine (; ; ; ; ) is a European river that begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Franco-German border, then flows through Germany and eventually empties into the North Sea in the Netherlands. It is the twelfth longest river in Europe, at about , with an average discharge .


During its course from the Alps to the North Sea, the Rhine passes through four countries and constitutes six different country borders. On the various parts:

  • the Vorderrhein lies entirely within Switzerland, while at least one tributary to Hinterrhein, Reno di Lei originates in Italy, but is not considered a part of the Rhein proper.
  • the Alpine Rhine flows within Switzerland till Sargans, from which it becomes the border between Switzerland (to the West) and Liechtenstein (to the East) until Oberriet, and the river never flows within Liechtenstein. It then becomes the border between Switzerland (to the West) and Austria (to the East) until Diepoldsau where the modern and straight course enters Switzerland, while the original course Alter Rhein makes a bend to the East and continues as the Swiss-Austrian border until the confluence at Widnau. From here the river continues as the border until Lustenau, where the modern and straight course enters Austria (the only part of the river that flows within Austria), while the original course makes a bend to the West and continues as the border, until both courses enters Lake Constance.
  • the first half of Seerhein, between the upper and lower body of Lake Constance, flows within Germany (and the city of Konstanz), while the second is the German (to the North) - Swiss (to the South) frontier.
  • the first parts of the High Rhine, from Lake Constance to Altholz, the river alternates flowing within Switzerland and being the German-Swiss frontier (three times each). From Altholz the river is the German - Swiss border until Basel, where it enters Switzerland for the last time.
  • the Upper Rhine is the border between France (to the West) and Switzerland (to the East) for a short distance, from Basel to Hunningue. Here it becomes the Franco (to the West) - German (to the East) frontier until Au am Rhein. Hence, the main course of the Rhine never flows within France, although some river canals do. From here the river flows within Germany.
  • the Middle Rhine flows entirely within Germany.
  • the Lower Rhine flows within Germany until Emmerich am Rhein, where it becomes the border between The Netherlands (to the North) and Germany (to the South). At Millingen aan de Rijn the river enters the Netherlands and continues to the North Sea.

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External Links

  • WikipediaRhine online water guide and mapBibliography on Water Resources and International LawThe *rei– rootBritain's drowned landscapes

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