Total length of the inland waterway system of the Netherlands exceeds 6 thousand kilometres. Within the European Union (EU), the Netherlands takes up third place after Finland and Germany. These waterways are frequently navigated: the Netherlands is number one in the EU with regard to inland waterway transport.
1.5 thousand kilometres of main (transport) waterways
Over 500 kilometres of the Dutch inland waterway system consists of main transport waterways, which constitute the connection for heavy transport between Rotterdam and Amsterdam and Germany and Belgium. These are broad waterways like the river Waal, the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal and the Schelde-Rijnkanaal.
The Netherlands also has main waterways with a total length of nearly 900 kilometres. They interconnect provinces and are used for national and international transport purposes. Main waterways are the rivers Maas, Lek and IJssel and the IJsselmeer.
The other waterways constitute a network within the Dutch provinces. Smaller waterways are predominantly found in the north and west part of the country.
Dutch inland waterways, 2009
Half of European waterways found in Finland, Germany and the Netherlands
EU waterways span a total length of nearly 41 thousand kilometers. Only Finland and Germany have a more extensive waterway system than the Netherlands. Finland, with its many lakes, has more than 8 thousand kilometres of waterways, Germany nearly 7 thousand kilometres. Together, these three countries account for over half of the total length of navigable inland waterways in the EU.
Netherlands number in waterway transport
In the EU, the Netherlands is number one with regard to inland waterway transport: 318 million tons of goods in 2006, i.e.more than 30 percent of total Dutch goods transport. Germany is the second most important country with respect to inland waterway transport, accounting for 243 million tons (12 percent of total goods transport). In Finland, transport of goods on inland waterways is negligible.
Goods transport in EU countries carrying at least 0.5 million tons on inland waterways, by means of transport, 2006