The Rhine flows through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and Liechtenstein. It is over 700 miles long, begins in the Swiss Alps and empties into the North Sea after flowing through the Netherlands.
The Rhine forms the border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Switzerland and Germany and part of the border between Germany and France. The river is navigable for about 500 miles, from the North Sea to Basel, Switzerland, though ocean-faring ships can't go past Cologne.
The Rhine has been historically important since the days of Julius Caesar, who built a bridge over it in approximately 53 B.C. It was the boundary between the Roman Empires and the Germanic tribes for 400 years. The control of the Rhine from Basel to the Netherlands fell to the Germans in the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, France contended for control of the Rhine, and their struggle with Germany lasted until after World War II.
The Rhine is the setting for many myths and legends. The Lorelei supposedly sits on a rock in the gorge of the Rhenish Slate Mountains and lures sailors to their deaths. The Rhine is also the site of many tales involving Attila the Hun, Siegfried and the Rhine maidens.