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About Liechtenstein - River History

History of the River Rhine in Liechtenstein

The Rhine valley in Liechtenstein, looking north

The River Rhine has shaped the whole valley in which Liechtenstein sits. The valley itself is part of the Rhine rift valley, and the area still get rocked by the occasional earth tremor. The river chose the path of least resistance on its way north to the North Sea, and this took it northwards having rounded the Ellhorn south of Balzers.


The drop through Liechtenstein is 53 metres to its lowest point, and that of the country at 436 metres above sea level. With this enormous drop over a short 18 mile stretch, the river does flow fast, and during the spring thaws, the water level rises increasing the flow rate down towards Lake Constance.


The importance of the river can be demonstrated in a simple observation. In Liechtenstein, people will talk of going up to Balzers (in the south) and down to Ruggell (in the north). In most other places, up and down are based on the northern hemisphere compass, but in Liechtenstein they refer to the flow of this mighty river.