Dividing line, uniting force
The Rhine rises in the Grisons area of the Swiss Alps and flows into the North Sea after a journey of 1325km through a basin that covers 160,000km2.
Formerly a military and religious route, the Rhine’s reputation is glorified in the German legends of the Rhinegold and the Lorelei.
It is western Europe’s most important river trade route and one of the world’s greatest economic arteries. It flows through six countries (Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, France and the Netherlands) and marks the border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Germany and Switzerland and Germany and France. However, the Rhine’s role as an official border is relatively recent. Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the conquest of Alsace by Louis XIV, this river was an integral part of the Germanic world, where it was called “Vater Rhein”, or Father Rhine.