The Elbe River crosses central Europe, is 1165 km long, originates in the Czech Republic, near the Polish border, from the southern slope of the Giant Mountains at about 1386 m of altitude.
It crosses much of Bohemia and Germany to flow into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, north of Hamburg.
The sea penetrates the estuary with a powerful flow that facilitates the ascent to Hamburg even for large boats. Connected to the Weser and Ems rivers (and therefore to the Rhine) via the Mittellandkanal, with the Oder via the Frederick William canal, with the Havel via the Elbe-Havel canal and with the Baltic Sea via the Elbe-Lübeck and Kiel canals .
The river Elba is a waterway for 940 km of great importance, despite the irregularity of its regime (characterized by spring floods and summer shoals) limits its use.
After decades of worrying pollution of the waters , the rehabilitation results achieved with the establishment, in 1991, of the International Commission for the protection of Elba (from 2004, Czech Republic, and Germany).
Among the major tributaries of the Elbe are the Vltava, Saale, Havel, Mulde, Elster Nero and Ohře rivers.