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The Rhine Valley

The Rhine Valley-Relevance for UPSC Exam

General Studies I- World Geography

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Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine.

The Rhine Valley_40.1

Rhine River

  • The Rhine flows through six countries -Switzerland, Principality of Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands before flowing into the North Sea at Rotterdam.
  • The Rhine River is known by different names depending on the country it flows through. It is called Rhein in Germany; Rhine in France and Rijn in the Netherlands.
  • The Rhine River is the second-longest river in Central and Western Europe after the Danube and originates in the Swiss Alps (in Switzerland).


  • A part of the Rhine River flowing through Germany has been experiencing its lowest water levels in two decades.
  • Germany did not receive the spring showers which led to drop in the water level dropped to around 1-meter last year which was the lowest for the time of year in at least two decades.
  • The contributions from glaciers have been disturbed in recent years due to global warming which has decreased the feeding to the river Rhine
  • A mix of glacial run-off and rain feeds the river, but Germany had experienced dropped water levels in 2018 which had disrupted industrial ships, severing downriver factories from North Sea ports.
  • The lowest water levels have prompted fears of shipping disruption on Europe’s most important inland waterway.
  • Rhine waters in Germany have dropped 40% since April 2020.


  • The drop in the water levels in 2018 affected the German economic growth.
  • Record-breaking heat waves recorded in 2019 have reduced the groundwater levels which have consequently dried out soil and affected the vegetation from consecutive years eventually leading to a drought-prone situation.
  • The low water levels if sustained will affect the refineries as using the river’s water will have reduced output compared to 2018 which can eventually lead to an economic halt as well.


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