Austria is a small central European state which occupies an area of about 32,386 sq miles. Austria has a mountainous terrain with only 32% of its land being below an altitude of 1,640 ft. The highest point in the country is about 12,461 feet above sea level. The two main features of the Austrian terrain are the Danube and the Alps. The Alps occupy over 60% of the total land area in Austria. Some of the longest rivers in Europe like the Danube pass through Austria. All the Austrian rivers flow into either the Black Sea or the North Sea.
Longest Rivers in Austrian
The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe right after River Volga. The 1,770-miles long Danube River is situated in Eastern and Central Europe. The Danube flows through 10 states, (which is the highest number for any river on earth). It rises in Donaueschingen town, Germany and flows through Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria before flowing into the Black Sea. The Danube rises at the confluence between the Breg and Brigach rivers. River Danube’s drainage basin stretches into nine nations including Albania, Macedonia, Poland, Switzerland, Montenegro, Slovenia, Czech, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Rhine River is one of the longest rivers in Central and West Europe that rises from the Graubunden in Switzerland. The Rhine forms part of Liechtenstein-Switzerland, Austria-Switzerland, German-Switzerland, and Germany-France boundaries and then flows through the Rhineland and Holland before emptying into the North Sea. The 760-mile long river was a huge part of the Roman Empire’s northern inland frontier, and it has been an important navigable river for carrying goods and trade inland.
The Drava is the third-longest river in Austria and one of the longest branches of the Danube. River Drava rises from Puster Valley in Italy and then flow eastwards to Styria, Slovenia through Carinthia and East Tirol in Austria. The river turns southeast and passes through Croatia before merging with River Mur (one of its main tributaries). It then forms part of the Hungary-Croatia boundary before joining the Danube. The Drava is one of the world’s most exploited rivers in terms of hydro-power.
River Inn is a 322-mile long river that flows through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The source of the River Inn is situated in the Swiss Alps. From its source, the Inn flows through two large lakes (Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils). It then flows in Austria where it passes through Landeck, Tyrol, and Innsbruck and then stretches into Bavaria. In Bavaria, it merges with its two main tributaries the Salzach and Alz rivers. The Inn forms part of the Austria-Bavaria border before emptying into the Danube. Some of the branches of the Inn include Pitzbach, Hartbach, Rott, and Kieferbach rives among others.
Hydropower In Austria
Other than providing water for irrigation, the Austrian rivers produce over 65.7% of the country’s national electricity. Austria is home to one of the most exploited rivers in the world when it comes to hydropower. Due to its position in the Alps, the country’s rivers have one of the highest hydropower potentials in Europe. Currently, there are over 5,200 hydropower facilities in Austria with about 2,882 plants feeding the country’s electrical grid.