The Rhine waterway is Europe’s most important waterway being the principal north-south waterway for Basel in Switzerland through the central Heroynian highlands to the Netherlands forming the eastern border of France.
The river is linked to the Rhone river and the Mediterranian by the Rhone-Rhine canal.
it is joined by many tributaries some of which include Moselle which are canalized.
The river has been dredged, straightened, and improved.
The following are importance of river Rhine waterways:
- It facilitates the development of various industries particularly in the Ruhr industrial complex due to presence of cheap water transport used for both importation of raw materials and exportation of manufactured commodities as well as acting as a source of large quantities of water for cooling purpose. Such industries include iron and steel, engineering, motor vehicle, chemicals and textiles.
- It has led to provision of employment opportunities in the industries, mining as captains of ship from which income is earned leading to better standards of living.
- The waterway has promoted power generation such as hydroelectric power from the dams and the use of coal and the exploitation of oil for mining industries. This is because it offered cheap means of transporting the bulky heavy minerals. This further led to the development of industries in the region.
- It has acted as the source of water for industrial and domestic use. The industrial that require large water supply such as soft drink industries, textile and smelting as well as for cooling machines.
- The waterways have opened the landlocked states connecting them to the sea such as Germany and Switzerland, as such they have been able to increase their trade both import and exports as well as receiving raw materials.
- It has led to the growth of international relationship among countries since it also serves as a natural boundary of Switzerland and Germany. it has thus helped to create political togetherness and increasing international trade.
- It has promoted the development of other mode of transport especially railway, roads and canals. These connect other areas to the waterway bringing in various goods hence promoting trade. These include the Rhine-herne canal, Dortmund-Ems canal and the lippesite canal.
- the waterway is also a source of revenue to the various countries, that is to say German, France, Switzerland and Netherlands. The revenue is obtained from levying taxes on the industries, miners, agriculture, from the transport sector which is used to develop other sectors of the economy.
- It has encouraged the settlement along the Rhine valley. This is because of the growth and development of several industries and agriculture especially vine grown in the Rhine rift valley which attracted people for jobs. Besides, it offers cheap means of transport allowing easy mobility of people.
- The waterway has led to development of tourism by offering a scenic beauty as well as being used as mode of transport for the tourists. it has therefore offered others source of foreign exchange.
- it provides one of the world’s most efficient waterway system serving western and southern Germany, Switzerland, and eastern France to the Netherlands. it carries both imports such as crude oil, cotton, wool, iron ore, coal, wheat, meat and dairy products and exports such as chemicals, fertilizers, textiles, machinery, watches, automobiles and confectionaries.
- It has encouraged regional trade through reduced transport cost as compared to road and railway transport because of reduction in distance. This has promoted imports and exports of heavy and bulky commodities such as coal, iron ore and petroleum.
- It has facilitated the exploitation of minerals such as coal in the Ruhr region, oil, sand and iron ore from Lorraine via the Mossel thus leading to the development of the mining industry as well as industrialization.
- the waterway has stimulated the growth of ports and town such as Basel, Düsseldorf, Rotterdam, Mainz, Bern with associated infrastructure such as roads leading to further development. Rotterdam for example is one of the busiest port in the world.