great mountain system of S central Europe, c.500 mi (800 km) long and c.100 mi (160 km) wide, curving in a great arc from the Riviera coast on the Mediterranean Sea, along the borders of N Italy and adjacent regions of SE France, Switzerland, SW Germany, and Austria, and into Slovenia. The Alps form the watershed of many of Europe's rivers, including the Rhine, the Rhône, the Po, and the Danube.
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