Elbe (Bohem. Lobe; anc. Albis), a river of Germany, rising in Bohemia, near the frontier of Prussian Silesia, and flowing into the North sea below Gluckstadt in Holstein. It is about 700 m. long. It originates in a number of springs on the western slope of the Schnee-Koppe (snow summit), one of the peaks of the Riesengebirge, at an elevation of about 4,500 ft..; runs mainly in a N. W. course; is navigable from its confluence with the Moldau, and has but a very slight inclination, its bed 40 m. from its sources being but 658 ft. above the sea. Its chief affluents are: on the right, the Iser, Black Elster, and Havel; on the left, the Moldau, Eger, Mulde, Saale, Jetze, Ilmenau, and Oste. The chief places on its banks are Josephstadt, Koniggratz, Theresienstadt, and Leitmeritz, in Bohemia;
Pirna, Dresden, and Meissen, in Saxony; Tor-gau, Wittenberg, Magdeburg, Lauenburg, Al-tona, and Gluckstadt, in Prussia; and Hamburg. Its channel between Hamburg and the sea admits of the passage of vessels drawing 14 ft. of water at all times, but is much encumbered with sand bars and shoals. By means of its own waters and those of the numerous canals branching from it, the Elbe places all N. W. and central Ger-many in connection with the seaboard. Wood, stones, fruits, and earthenware are exchanged through it for corn, salt, and colonial produce. But until recently its navigation has been much complicated by the regulations of the states through which it runs. These regulations were the subject of much controversy and negotiation. By the Elbschiffahrtsacte of June 23,1821, the entire navigation of the Elbe was thrown open to the commerce of the world, and the charges to which it was subject were fixed and rendered uniform. The regulations were still further modified by conferences which were held from time to time for their revision, and particularly by the additional act of April 13, 1844. The toll collected at Stade was abolished July 22, 1861, and finally all the remaining tolls were removed by act of the North German confederation, which went into operation July 1, 1870. The numerous river transportation companies are thus enabled to compete at better advantage with the railways, and the amount of business has been much increased.