Personal tools

Subscriptions
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Twitter icon Twitter
Facebook icon Facebook
YouTube icon YouTube channel
RSS logo RSS Feeds
More

Write to us Write to us

For the public:


For media and journalists:

Contact EEA staff
Contact the web team
FAQ

Call us Call us

Reception:

Phone: (+45) 33 36 71 00
Fax: (+45) 33 36 71 99


next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Water / European waters / Rivers

Rivers

A river is a system comprising both the main course and all the tributaries that feed into it; the area that the river system drains is known as the catchment. The main characteristic of rivers is their continuous one-way flow in response to gravity.

Due to variations in physical conditions, such as slope and bedrock geology, rivers are dynamic and may change form several times throughout their course. For example, a fast-flowing mountain stream may develop into a wide, deep and slow-flowing lowland river.

fastflowing stream largelowlandriver

When assessing river characteristics and water quality, it is important to bear in mind that a river comprises not only a main course but also a vast number of tributaries. For example, the main course of Europe's largest river, the Volga, is 3 500 km long. In addition, it receives water from ten tributaries of over 500 km in length and more than 151 000 tributaries of over 10 km in length.

The following pages describe:

Geographical coverage

[+] Show Map

Document Actions

Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100