A canal is an artificially created waterway or waterway. Very early in human history, smaller canals were used to irrigate the ground, and as early as the time of the Roman Empire, the engineers of that time were building impressive viaducts throughout what was then the gigantic empire to ensure the water supply. Around the same time, however, in a completely different area on earth, the first canals that were used to transport people and goods emerged.
For millennia, waterways have been the most important connections between trading centers on all continents of the world. At first only the naturally flowing rivers and straits, then also man-made canals. These artificial waterways are divided into so-called sea canals and river canals. From a technical point of view, the difference is that sea canals were built to connect seas across isthmuses and thus offer mostly ocean-going ships a shortcut. The other form of the canals was built for inland navigation and is accordingly equipped with a shallower draft.
But there are also mixed canals, which in principle connect rivers inland, but at the same time also allow the transport of goods from one sea to another. A good example of this is the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, which connects the Dutch port city with the Rhine, as does the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube-Black Sea Canal. Three canal structures, with the help of which a gigantic waterway from the North Sea to the Black Sea was built over the Rhine, Main and Danube, and together they cover a distance of 3500 km.
Which canal is the largest in the world cannot be precisely defined, since the amounts of water that flow through the canals differ depending on the width and depth of the canals and, in turn, together with the length of the respective canal result in a value. As a result, only the length of the individual canal remains as a guide, i.e. a structure built continuously by human hands without any natural river sections.
The following channels listed here can claim to be the ten longest channels in the world, sorted in ascending order.
Rank 10: Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, Netherlands, 45 miles.
It starts with the already mentioned connection route between the Waal, an arm of the Rhine in the delta of the Rhine on the North Sea, and the port city of Amsterdam. The Amsterdam-Rhine Canal was opened in 1952
Rank 9: Panama Canal, Panama, 50 miles.
Although probably the most famous and important canal in the world together with the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal only ranks eighth in terms of length. The structure, opened in 1914, connects the Atlantic with the Pacific and saves seagoing ships the trip around the notorious Cape Horn. Around 14,300 ships pass through the canal every year.
Rank 8: Houston Canal, USA, 56 mi.
The Houston Ship Channel is a channel built mainly for the oil industry between the Texan city and the Gulf of Mexico. The canal was opened for freight traffic as early as 1836.
7th place: Kiel Canal, Germany, 98.7.
Linking the North Sea and the Baltic Sea via the isthmus in northern Germany and thus saving seagoing ships a 460 km detour via the Skagerrak was first implemented in 1784. Today the waterway known internationally as the Kiel Canal is the most traveled artificial waterway in the world. Every year around 32,000 ships travel the Kiel Canal.
Rank 6: Volga-Don canal, Russia, 101 km.
The Volga-Don Canal connects the Caspian and Black Seas via the two great Russian rivers Volga and Don. The waterway was inaugurated in 1952.
5th place: Moscow Canal, Russia, 128 km.
Peter the Great was already thinking of an artificial waterway between theMoskva, which flows through Moscow, and the Volga, in order to create a connection to the Caspian Sea that could be used by ships. The canal was not realized until 1937.
4th place: Suez Canal, Egypt, 1193.3 km.
Historically, the planning and construction of the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean, is associated with countless adventures and political turmoil.
Today, the canal saves seagoing vessels traveling from Europe or the east coast of America to Asia from having to make the huge detour via the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The waterway “only” 162.3 km long in its original length without feeder canals was opened in 1869.
3rd place: St. Lawrence Seaway, Canada / USA, 204 km.
The St. Lawrence Seaway connects the great American lakes and the North Atlantic. This 204 km long canal opens up an inland route for shipping far into the interior of the USA and Canada. A total of 3700 km. The canal was built between 1951 and 1959.
2nd place: White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal, Russia, 227 km.
The second longest canal in the world is located in Russia and actually consists of several sections with lakes and rivers in between. Nevertheless, it is an overall planning project. In 1933 the first ships sailed on the channel from the White Sea in northwest Russia to the Baltic Sea. In this way, a waterway was created from Saint Petersburg to the Barents Sea, which allowed freight traffic without the detour via the North Atlantic.
1st place: Kaiserkanal, China, 2000 km.
Not only the longest, but also the oldest navigable canal in the world is located in China. The first sections of this gigantic structure were built around 2500 years ago. The waterway known as the Imperial Canal connects the capital Beijing with the fertile north and flows into the Yangtze, the yellow river. In addition to the great wall, the Imperial Canal is the most important structure in China.
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