June 20, 2018
Basel is situated in the centre of Europe, in Switzerland, approximately 800km from the North Sea. The River Rhine has its source in the east of Switzerland, rising from two small headstreams in the Alps. It flows down to Lake Constance (Bodensee in German), entering the lake to the south-east near Bregenz, and leaving the lake in the west via the Lower Lake.
The lake has a shoreline of 273km and is 63km long and 14km wide. Even though the lake is seen by many to be the source of the River Rhine (much like Lake Victoria is seen as the source of the Nile River), many claim the true source is the river that flows into it.
The outflow of the river Rhine forms the German-Swiss border as it flows west, until it reaches Basel. From Basel it flows north through other great inland ports like Strasbourg, Mannheim, Cologne and Duisburg. Altogether the Rhine is 1,230km long, and enters the North Sea in The Netherlands.
It has been an international waterway since the Treaty of Vienna in 1815. Originally the river turned a lot, just after the city of Basel, like rivers do. It was straightened along a length of approximately 150km to make the river more like a straight road on water.
In The Netherlands the Rhine breaks up into branches like the Leek and Waal. The 1986 Delta Project closed main branches. Now the river's water reaches the North Sea via sluices and canals. The new waterway/canal at Rotterdam is the main navigational link from Basel, along the Rhine to the North Sea and onwards in the world. Travelling from Basel to Rotterdam is like a motorway on water - you meet ships all the time!
Basel lies along the river Rhine at the mouth of the Biers and Wiese rivers. The Rhine, bending northwards, divides the city into two parts linked by six bridges. To the north lie the Rhine ports and industrial region. The Port of Switzerland comprises the national transport hub in the freight corridor between Rotterdam, Basel and Genoa.
The port of Basel has three sites: Basel-Kleinhüningen, Birsfelden and Muttenz. Combined, they handle over 6 million tons of goods per year and more than 100,000 containers, comprising over 10% of all Swiss imports. Every third litre of mineral oil and one in four containers are handled by the Rhine Port terminals. Excellent connections by rail and road allow the transport of all kinds of goods. In total 80 port companies provide storage and capacity for containers, bulk, general and liquid cargo.
Basel is an important distribution centre for chemical and pharmaceutical industries, electrical engineering, manufacturing of machinery and silk textiles. There are currently 212 Rhine ships in the Swiss fleet under Swiss flag.
Basel is truly a great inland port right in the centre of Europe.