The Meuse (in Dutch and in German: "Maas", in Latin: "Mosa", in Celtic:"Mus" (the rootword, presumingly related to: "moist")), is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea. It has a total length of 925 km (575 miles).
The Meuse marked the Western border of the Holy Roman Empire from its creation in the 9th century until the annexation of most of Alsace and Lorraine by France through the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), and to some extent until 1792 when the Prince-Bishopric of Liège was also annexed to France. Its Belgian portion, part of the sillon industriel, was the first fully industrialized area in continental Europe. The Meuse is mentioned nostalgically in Das Lied der Deutschen.
The Meuse rises in Pouilly-en-Bassigny, commune of Le Châtelet-sur-Meuse on the Langres plateau in France from where it flows northwards past Sedan (the head of navigation) and Charleville-Mézières into Belgium. At Namur it is joined by the River Sambre. Beyond Namur the Meuse winds eastwards, skirting the Ardennes, and passes Liège before turning north. The river then forms part of the Belgian-Dutch border, except that at Maastricht the border lies further to the west. In the Netherlands it continues northwards through Venlo closely along the border to Germany, then turns towards the west, where the Waal river joins it, before it starts being part of an extensive delta, together with the mouths of especially the Scheldt river in its south and the main part of the Rhine river in the north. Before, the river has divided near Heusden into the Afgedamde Maas on the right and the Bergse Maas on the left. The Bergse Maas continues under the name of Amer, which is part of the Biesbosch, and is joined by the Nieuwe Merwede, after which it flows on under the name of Hollands Diep, before finally flowing into the North Sea as Haringvliet.
There are also numerous road bridges and around 32 ferry crossings.
The Meuse is navigable over a substantial part of its total length: In the Netherlands and Belgium, the river is part of the major inland navigation infrastructure, connecting the Rotterdam-Amsterdam-Antwerp port areas to the industrial areas upstream: 's Hertogenbosch, Venlo, Maastricht, Liège, Namur. Between Maastricht and Maasbracht, an unnavigable section of the Meuse is bypassed by the 36 km Juliana Canal. South of Namur, further upstream, the river can only carry more modest vessels, although a barge as long as 100 m. can still reach the French border town of Givet.
From Givet, the river is canalized over a distance of 272 kilometers. The canalized Meuse used to be called the "Canal de l'Est — Branche Nord" but was recently rebaptized into "Canal de la Meuse". The waterway can be used by the smallest barges that are still in use commercially (almost 40 meters long and just over 5 meters wide). Just upstream of the town of Commercy, the Canal de la Meuse connects with the Canal de la Marne au Rhin by means of a short diversion canal. (Source: NoorderSoft Waterways database)
The Cretaceous sea reptile Mosasaur is named after the river Meuse. The first fossils of it were discovered outside Maastricht 1780.