swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

Your Gateway to Switzerland

Water sources

Rhine, canton Thurgau (in new window)

The Rhine shortly after it has flowed out of Lake Constance.© swissworld.org

Switzerland has 6 per cent of Europe's stock of fresh water. The Rhine, Rhone and Inn all take their source here, although their waters flow into three seas: the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

The Rhine Falls, a few kilometers downstream of Schaffhausen, are the largest in Europe. They are 150 m (450 ft) wide and 23 m (75.4 ft) high.

In addition, Switzerland has over 1,500 lakes. The two largest, Lakes Geneva and Constance, lie on the border. Lake Geneva is shared with France, and Lake Constance with Germany and Austria. Lake Geneva, which lies on the course of the Rhone, is the largest freshwater lake in central Europe.

The biggest lake which lies wholly within Switzerland is Lake Neuchâtel with an area of 218.4 square km (84.3 square miles). Probably the best known lake is Lake Lucerne in Central Switzerland (113.7 square km / 44 square miles).

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