The River Rhine is one of the most well-known rivers in Europe, and it is the longest river in Germany. The river flows through six countries and originates as a thin stream in the Swiss Alps; however, as the river flows, it gathers volume and gains speed. The Rhine forms part of the border between France and Germany and is a source of drinking water for areas throughout southern Germany.
The River Rhine flows for more than 766 miles, starting in the Swiss Alps in Switzerland. The name of the River Rhine changes depending on the country through which it flows. The river flows through France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein and Germany. The Rhine is referred to as Rijn in the Netherlands, Rhein in Germany and Rhine in France. When the Rhine enters Germany, the river forms the border between France and Germany. It also marks a border between Germany and Switzerland.
In 1986, the Rhine was severely polluted and was recognized as one of the most polluted rivers in Europe. The pollution was the result of a chemical factory fire, and the pollution only took 10 days to travel the length of the Rhine before entering the North Sea.