Canal

Canal

Overview


Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:
  1. Waterway
    Waterway
    A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

    s: navigable transport
    Transport
    Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

    ation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:
    1. Those connected to existing lake
      Lake
      A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

      s, river
      River
      A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

      s, or ocean
      Ocean
      An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

      s. Included are inter-basin canals, such as the Suez Canal
      Suez Canal
      The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

      , Erie Canal
      Erie Canal
      The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

      , and the Panama Canal
      Panama Canal
      The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

      .
    2. Those connected in a city network: such as the Canal Grande and others of Venice
      Venice
      Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

       Italy
      Italy
      Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

      ; the gracht
      Gracht
      The word gracht is a Dutch term that is encountered by English-speaking people when confronted with Dutch art , Dutch history or tourism...

      of Amsterdam
      Amsterdam
      Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

      , and the waterways of Bangkok
      Bangkok
      Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

      .
  2. Aqueduct
    Aqueduct
    An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

    s: water supply
    Water supply
    Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes...

     canals that are used for the conveyance and delivery of potable water for human consumption, municipal uses, and agriculture
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

     irrigation
    Irrigation
    Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

    .
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Encyclopedia


Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:
  1. Waterway
    Waterway
    A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

    s: navigable transport
    Transport
    Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

    ation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:
    1. Those connected to existing lake
      Lake
      A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

      s, river
      River
      A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

      s, or ocean
      Ocean
      An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

      s. Included are inter-basin canals, such as the Suez Canal
      Suez Canal
      The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

      , Erie Canal
      Erie Canal
      The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

      , and the Panama Canal
      Panama Canal
      The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

      .
    2. Those connected in a city network: such as the Canal Grande and others of Venice
      Venice
      Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

       Italy
      Italy
      Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

      ; the gracht
      Gracht
      The word gracht is a Dutch term that is encountered by English-speaking people when confronted with Dutch art , Dutch history or tourism...

      of Amsterdam
      Amsterdam
      Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

      , and the waterways of Bangkok
      Bangkok
      Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

      .
  2. Aqueduct
    Aqueduct
    An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

    s: water supply
    Water supply
    Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes...

     canals that are used for the conveyance and delivery of potable water for human consumption, municipal uses, and agriculture
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

     irrigation
    Irrigation
    Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

    . Rill
    Rill
    A Rill can be a:*1.) natural fluvial topographic feature;*2.) functional constructed channel to carry a water supply from a water source some distance away;*3.) aesthetic garden water feature.-Natural:...

    s and acequia
    Acequia
    An acequia or séquia is a community-operated waterway used in Spain and former Spanish colonies in the Americas for irrigation. Particularly in Spain, the Andes, northern Mexico, and the modern-day American Southwest, acequias are usually historically engineered canals that carry snow runoff or...

    s are small versions.

Types of artificial waterways



Canals are created in one of three ways, or a combination of the three, depending on available water and available path:
  • A canal can be created where no stream presently exists. Either the body of the canal is dug or the sides of the canal are created by piling dirt, stone, concrete, or other building materials. The water for the canal must be provided from an external source like other streams or reservoirs. Examples include canals that connect valleys over a higher body of land, like Canal du Midi
    Canal du Midi
    The is a long canal in Southern France . The canal connects the Garonne River to the on the Mediterranean and along with the Canal de Garonne forms the Canal des Deux Mers joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Étang de Thau...

     and Canal de Briare.
  • A stream can be canalized to make its navigable path more predictable and easier to maneuver. Canalization modifies the stream to more safely carry traffic by controlling the flow of the stream with dredging, damming, and modifying its path. Examples include Basse Saône
    Basse Saône
    The Basse Saône is a canal in eastern France. It joins Lyon to Saint-Symphorien-sur-Saône. It is 213 km long with 5 locks....

    , Canal de Mines de Fer de la Moselle
    Canal de Mines de Fer de la Moselle
    The Canal de Mines de Fer de la Moselle is a canal innorth eastern France linking Metz and Thionville. It is a canalized section of the Moselle River. The canal may also be called CAMIFEMO as concocted from the name of the canal in the following way: CAnal des MInes de FEr de la MOselle ....

    , and Aisne River. Riparian zone restoration
    Riparian zone restoration
    Riparian zone restoration is the ecological restoration of riparian zone habitats of streams, rivers, springs, lakes, floodplains, and other hydrologic ecologies.Riparian zones have been degraded throughout much of the world...

     may be required.
  • When a stream is too difficult to modify with canalization, a second stream can be created next to the existing stream. This is called a lateral canal
    Lateral canal
    A lateral canal is a canal built along the same right-of-way as an existing stream. Water for the canal is usually provided by the original natural stream. Many French lateral canals have the word latéral as part of their name...

    . The existing stream usually acts as the water source and its banks provide a path for the new body. Examples include the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
    Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
    The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal, and occasionally referred to as the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1831 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about . The elevation change of...

    , Canal latéral à la Loire
    Canal latéral à la Loire
    The Canal Latéral à la Loire was constructed between 1827 and 1838 to connect the Canal de Briare at Briare and the Canal du Centre at Digoin, a distance of 196 km. It replaced the use of the River Loire which had reliability problems arising from winter floods and summer droughts...

    , Garonne Lateral Canal, and Canal latéral à l'Aisne
    Canal latéral à l'Aisne
    The Canal latéral à l'Aisne is a canal in northern France, which connects Vieux-lès-Asfeld to Condé-sur-Aisne. It runs alongside the Aisne River...

    .


Smaller transportation canals can carry barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

s or narrowboat
Narrowboat
A narrowboat or narrow boat is a boat of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of Great Britain.In the context of British Inland Waterways, "narrow boat" refers to the original working boats built in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for carrying goods on the narrow canals...

s, while ship canal
Ship canal
A ship canal is a canal especially constructed to carry ocean-going ships, as opposed to barges. Ship canals can be enlarged barge canals, canalized or channelized rivers, or canals especially constructed from the start to accommodate ships....

s allow seagoing ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s to travel to an inland port (e.g., Manchester Ship Canal
Manchester Ship Canal
The Manchester Ship Canal is a river navigation 36 miles long in the North West of England. Starting at the Mersey Estuary near Liverpool, it generally follows the original routes of the rivers Mersey and Irwell through the historic counties of Cheshire and Lancashire. Several sets of locks lift...

), or from one sea or ocean to another (e.g., Caledonian Canal
Caledonian Canal
The Caledonian Canal is a canal in Scotland that connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William. It was constructed in the early nineteenth century by engineer Thomas Telford, and is a sister canal of the Göta Canal in Sweden, also constructed by...

, Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

).

Features



At their simplest, canals consist of a trench filled with water. Depending on the stratum
Stratum
In geology and related fields, a stratum is a layer of sedimentary rock or soil with internally consistent characteristics that distinguish it from other layers...

 the canal passes through, it may be necessary to line the cut with some form of watertight material such as clay or concrete. When this is done with clay it is known as puddling
Puddling (engineering)
Puddle is a watertight material based on clay used in building and maintaining canals or reservoirs. Puddling is the process of lining the channel with puddle....

.

Canals need to be level, and, while small irregularities in the lie of the land can be dealt with through cuttings and embankments, for larger deviations, other approaches have been adopted. The most common is the pound lock, which consists of a chamber within which the water level can be raised or lowered connecting either two pieces of canal at a different level or the canal with a river or the sea. When there is a hill to be climbed, flights of many locks in short succession may be used.

Prior to the development of the pound lock in 984AD in China by Chhaio Wei-Yo and later in Europe in the 15th century, either flash locks consisting of a single gate were used or ramps, sometimes equipped with rollers, were used to change level. Flash locks were only practical where there was plenty of water available.

Locks use a lot of water, so builders have adopted other approaches. These include boat lift
Boat lift
A boat lift, ship lift, or lift lock is a machine for transporting boats between water at two different elevations, and is an alternative to the canal lock and the canal inclined plane....

s, such as the Falkirk wheel
Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift located in Scotland, UK,connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, opened in 2002. It is named after the nearby town of Falkirk which is in central Scotland...

, which use a caisson of water in which boats float while being moved between two levels; and inclined plane
Canal inclined plane
An inclined plane is a system used on some canals for raising boats between different water levels. Boats may be conveyed afloat, in caissons, or may be carried in cradles or slings. It can be considered as a specialised type of cable railway....

s where a caisson is hauled up a steep railway.

To cross a stream or road, the solution is usually to bridge with an aqueduct
Aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

. To cross a wide valley (where the journey delay caused by a flight of locks at either side would be unacceptable) the centre of the valley can be spanned by an aqueduct - a famous example in Wales is the Pontcysyllte aqueduct across the valley of the River Dee
Dee
-Surname:*Arthur Dee, son of John Dee*Billy Dee*Bob Dee*Daisy Dee*Dave Dee*Ed Dee*Frances Dee, actress*Gandra Dee*Gerry Dee, Canadian comedian*Jack Dee, British comedian*Jeff Dee*John Dee, English mathematician and alchemist...

.

Another option for dealing with hills is to tunnel through them. An example of this approach is the Harecastle Tunnel
Harecastle Tunnel
Harecastle Tunnel is a canal tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal at Kidsgrove in Staffordshire. It is made up of two separate, parallel, tunnels described as Brindley and the later Telford after the engineers that constructed them. Today only the Telford tunnel is navigable...

 on the Trent and Mersey Canal
Trent and Mersey Canal
The Trent and Mersey Canal is a in the East Midlands, West Midlands, and North West of England. It is a "narrow canal" for the vast majority of its length, but at the extremities—east of Burton upon Trent and west of Middlewich—it is a wide canal....

. Tunnels are only practical for smaller canals.

Some canals attempted to keep changes in level down to a minimum. These canals known as contour canal
Contour canal
A contour canal is an artificially-dug navigable canal which closely follows the contour line of the land it traverses in order to avoid costly engineering works such as boring a tunnel through higher ground, building an embankment over lower ground, or constructing a canal lock to change the...

s would take longer winding routes, along which the land was a uniform altitude. Other generally later canals took more direct routes requiring the use of various methods to deal with the change in level.

Canals have various features to tackle the problem of water supply. In some cases such as the Suez Canal the canal is simply open to the sea. Where the canal is not at sea level a number of approaches have been adopted. Taking water from existing rivers or springs was an option in some cases, sometimes supplemented by other methods to deal with seasonal variations in flow. Where such sources were unavailable, reservoirs - either separate from the canal or built into its course - and back pumping were used to provide the required water. In other cases, water pumped from mines was used to feed the canal. In certain cases, extensive "feeder canals" were built to bring water from sources located far from the canal.

Where large amounts of goods are loaded or unloaded such as at the end of a canal a canal basin
Canal basin
A canal basin is an expanse of waterway alongside or at the end of a canal, and wider than the canal, constructed to allow boats to moor or unload cargo without impeding the progress of other traffic, and to allow room for turning, thus serving as a winding hole...

 may be built. This would normally be a section of water wider than the general canal. In some cases, the canal basins contain wharf
Wharf
A wharf or quay is a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers.Such a structure includes one or more berths , and may also include piers, warehouses, or other facilities necessary for handling the ships.A wharf commonly comprises a fixed...

s and cranes to assist with movement of goods.

When a section of the canal needs to be sealed off so it can be drained for maintenance stop planks are frequently used. These consist of planks of wood placed across the canal to form a dam. They are generally placed in pre existing grooves in the canal bank. On more modern canals, "guard locks" or gates were sometimes placed to allow a section of canal to be quickly closed off, either for maintenance, or to prevent a major loss of water due to a canal breach.

Ancient canals




The oldest known canals were irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 canals, built in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 circa 4000 BC, in what is now modern day Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. The Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

, Ancient India
Ancient India
Ancient India may refer to:* The ancient history of India, which generally includes the ancient history of the Asian Subcontinent, including:*Science and technology in ancient India**Indian mathematics**Astronomy**List of Indian inventions...

, (circa 2600 BC) had sophisticated irrigation and storage systems developed, including the reservoir
Reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

s built at Girnar
Girnar
Girnar is a collection of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, India, situated near Junagadh at a distance of 327 km from Ahmedabad. It is a holy place and an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Jains. There are a number of temples located here. Amidst the lush green Gir...

 in 3000 BC. In Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, canals date back at least to the time of Pepi I Meryre
Pepi I Meryre
Pepi I Meryre was the third king of the Sixth dynasty of Egypt. His first throne name was Neferdjahor which the king later altered to Meryre meaning "beloved of Rê."-Family:...

 (reigned 2332–2283 BC), who ordered a canal built to bypass the cataract
Cataracts of the Nile
The cataracts of the Nile are shallow lengths of the Nile between Aswan and Khartoum where the surface of the water is broken by many small boulders and stones protruding out of the river bed, as well as many rocky islets. Aswan is also the Southern boundary of Upper Egypt...

 on the Nile near Aswan
Aswan
Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

.

In ancient China, large canals for river transport were established as far back as the Warring States (481–221 BC), the longest one of that period being the Hong Gou (Canal of the Wild Geese), which according to the ancient historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

 connected the old states of Song, Zhang, Chen, Cai, Cao, and Wei. By far the longest canal was the Grand Canal of China
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

, still the longest canal in the world today. It is 1794 kilometres (1,114.7 mi) long and was built to carry the Emperor Yang Guang between Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 and Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

. The project began in 605 and was completed in 609, although much of the work combined older canals, the oldest section of the canal existing since at least 486 BC. Even in its narrowest urban sections it is rarely less than 30 metres (98.4 ft) wide.

Greek engineers were the first to use canal locks
Lock (water transport)
A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied; whereas in a caisson lock, a boat lift, or on a canal inclined plane, it is...

, by which they regulated the water flow in the Ancient Suez Canal as early as the 3rd century BC.

Canals in the Middle Ages


In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, water transport was cheaper and faster than transport overland. This was because roads were unpaved and in poor condition and greater amounts could be transported by ship. The first artificial canal in Christian Europe
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

 was the Fossa Carolina
Fossa Carolina
The Fossa Carolina was a navigable channel connecting the Swabian Rezat river to the Altmühl river . It was created during the Middle Ages long before the Ludwig Canal and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal...

 built at the end of the 8th Century under personal supervision of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. More lasting and of more economic impact were canals like the Naviglio Grande
Naviglio Grande
The Naviglio Grande is a canal in Lombardy, northern Italy, joining the Ticino river near Tornavento to the Porta Ticinese dock, also known as the Darsena, in Milan. It drops 34 m over 49.9 km. It varies in width from 22 m to 50 m from Tornavento to Abbiategrasso, dropping to 15 m between there...

 built between 1127 and 1257, the most important of the lombard
Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

 “navigli
Navigli
The navigli was a system of navigable and interconnected canals around Milan, Italy.The system consisted of five canals: Naviglio Grande, Naviglio Pavese, Naviglio Martesana, Naviglio di Paderno, Naviglio di Bereguardo. The first three were connected through Milan via the Fossa Interna, also known...

”, Later, canals were built in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 to drain the polder
Polder
A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices...

s and assist the transportation of goods.

Canal building was revived in this age because of commercial expansion from the 12th century AD. River navigations were improved progressively by the use of single, or flash lock
Flash lock
Early locks were designed with a single gate, known as a flash lock or staunch lock. The earliest European references to what were clearly flash locks were in Roman times....

s. Taking boats through these used large amounts of water leading to conflicts with watermill
Watermill
A watermill is a structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process such as flour, lumber or textile production, or metal shaping .- History :...

 owners and to correct this, the pound or chamber lock first appeared, in 10th century AD in China and in Europe in 1373 in Vreeswijk
Vreeswijk
Vreeswijk is a former village and municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht. The municipality merged with Jutphaas in 1971, and is now the southern half of the town of Nieuwegein....

, Netherlands. Another important development was the mitre gate, which was, it is presumed, introduced in Italy by Bertola da Novate in the 16th century. This allowed wider gates and also removed the height restriction of guillotine lock
Guillotine lock
A guillotine lock is a type of canal lock. The lock itself operates on the same principle as any normal pound lock, but is unusual in that each gate is a single piece, usually of steel, that slides vertically upwards when opened to allow a boat to traverse underneath...

s.

To break out of the limitations caused by river valleys, the first summit level canal
Summit level canal
A summit level canal is an artificial waterway connecting two separate river valleys. It was an essential step in developing transport systems connecting different parts of a country before the railways or modern road transport....

s were developed with the Grand Canal of China
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 in 581–617 AD whilst in Europe the first, also using single locks, was the Stecknitz Canal in Germany in 1398. The first to use pound locks was the Briare Canal
Briare Canal
The Canal de Briare is one of the oldest canals in France. It is the first summit level canal in Europe that was built using pound locks, connecting the Loire and Seine valleys. It is 57km long and is part of the Bourbonnais route from Saint-Mammès on the Seine to Chalon-sur-Saône on the Saône River...

 connecting the Loire
Loire
Loire is an administrative department in the east-central part of France occupying the River Loire's upper reaches.-History:Loire was created in 1793 when after just 3½ years the young Rhône-et-Loire department was split into two. This was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon...

 and Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 (1642), followed by the more ambitious Canal du Midi
Canal du Midi
The is a long canal in Southern France . The canal connects the Garonne River to the on the Mediterranean and along with the Canal de Garonne forms the Canal des Deux Mers joining the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The canal runs from the city of Toulouse down to the Étang de Thau...

 (1683) connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. This included a staircase of 8 locks at Béziers, a 157 metres (515.1 ft) tunnel and three major aqueduct
Aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

s.

Canal building progressed steadily in Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries with three great rivers, the Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

, Oder
Oder
The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

 and Weser being linked by canals. In post-Roman Britain, the first canal built appears to have been the Exeter Canal
Exeter Canal
The Exeter Ship Canal, sometimes just called the Exeter Canal, downstream of Exeter, Devon, England was built in the 1560s which means it pre-dates the "canal mania" period and is one of the oldest artificial waterways in the UK.-History:...

, which opened in 1563. The oldest canal built for industrial purposes in North America is Mother Brook
Mother Brook
Mother Brook is the modern name for a stream that flows from the Charles River in Dedham, Massachusetts, to the Neponset River in the Hyde Park section of Boston, Massachusetts. Mother Brook was also known variously as East Brook and Mill Brook in earlier times. The man-made portion of Mother...

 in Dedham, MA. It was constructed in 1639 to provide water power for mills. In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the Volga-Baltic Waterway
Volga-Baltic Waterway
The Volga–Baltic Waterway, formerly known as the Mariinsk Canal System , is a series of canals and rivers in Russia which link the Volga River with the Baltic Sea...

, a nationwide canal system connecting the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and Caspian sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

s via the Neva and Volga rivers, was opened in 1718.

Industrial revolution



Canals were important for industrial development. The greatest stimulus to canal system building came from the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 with its need for cheap transport of unprecedented quantities of raw materials and manufactured items.

In Europe, particularly Britain and Ireland, and then in the young United States and the Canadian colonies, inland canals preceded the development of railroads during the earliest phase of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. The opening of the Sankey Canal
Sankey Canal
The Sankey Canal, which is also known as the Sankey Brook Navigation and the St Helens Canal, is a canal in Cheshire, extending into Merseyside, in the northwest of England, connecting St Helens with the River Mersey...

 in 1757, followed by the Bridgewater Canal
Bridgewater Canal
The Bridgewater Canal connects Runcorn, Manchester and Leigh, in North West England. It was commissioned by Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, to transport coal from his mines in Worsley to Manchester...

 in 1761, which halved the price of coal in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 and Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, respectively, triggered a period of "canal mania" in Britain so that between 1760 and 1820 over one hundred canals were built.

As well as industrial uses, the Royal Military Canal
Royal Military Canal
The Royal Military Canal is a canal running for 28 miles between Seabrook near Folkestone and Cliff End near Hastings, following the old cliff line bordering Romney Marsh.-Construction:...

 on the Romney Marsh was built so as create a barrier against invading troops, and hiding places for British troops during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Blackstone Canal
Blackstone Canal
The Blackstone Canal was a waterway linking Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island through the Blackstone Valley via a series of locks and canals during the early 19th century.-History:...

 in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 and Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 fulfilled a similar role in the early industrial revolution between 1828–48. The Blackstone Valley
Blackstone Valley
The Blackstone Valley or Blackstone River Valley is a region of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was a major contributor to the American Industrial Revolution...

 was a major contributor of the American Industrial Revolution where Samuel Slater
Samuel Slater
Samuel Slater was an early English-American industrialist known as the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution", or the "Father of the American Factory System" because he brought British textile technology to America. He learned textile machinery as an apprentice to a pioneer in the British...

 built his first mill.

In addition to their transportation purposes, parts of the United States, particularly in the Northeast
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

, had enough fast-flowing rivers that water power was the primary means of powering factories (usually textile mills) until after the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. For example, Lowell, Massachusetts
Lowell, Massachusetts
Lowell is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 106,519. It is the fourth largest city in the state. Lowell and Cambridge are the county seats of Middlesex County...

, considered to be "The Cradle of the American Industrial Revolution," has 6 mile of canals, built from around 1790 to 1850, that provided water power and a means of transportation for the city. The output of the system is estimated at 10,000 horsepower
Horsepower
Horsepower is the name of several units of measurement of power. The most common definitions equal between 735.5 and 750 watts.Horsepower was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses in continuous operation. The unit was widely adopted to measure the...

. Other cities with extensive power canal systems include Lawrence, Massachusetts
Lawrence, Massachusetts
Lawrence is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States on the Merrimack River. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a total population of 76,377. Surrounding communities include Methuen to the north, Andover to the southwest, and North Andover to the southeast. It and Salem are...

, Holyoke, Massachusetts
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Holyoke is a city in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States, between the western bank of the Connecticut River and the Mount Tom Range of mountains. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 39,880...

, Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester is the largest city in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, the tenth largest city in New England, and the largest city in northern New England, an area comprising the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. It is in Hillsborough County along the banks of the Merrimack River, which...

, and Augusta, Georgia
Augusta Canal
The Augusta Canal is a historic canal located in Augusta, Georgia. The canal connects two points of the Savannah River. It was devised to harness the power of the fall line of the Savannah River for mills, to provide transportation of goods, and to provide drinking water for the city...

.

The 19th century



Competition from the railway network from the 1830s, and in the 20th century the roads, made the smaller canals obsolete for most commercial transportation, and many of the British canals fell into decay. Only the Manchester Ship Canal
Manchester Ship Canal
The Manchester Ship Canal is a river navigation 36 miles long in the North West of England. Starting at the Mersey Estuary near Liverpool, it generally follows the original routes of the rivers Mersey and Irwell through the historic counties of Cheshire and Lancashire. Several sets of locks lift...

 and the Aire and Calder Canal bucked this trend. Yet in other countries canals grew in size as construction techniques improved. During the 19th century in the US, the length of canals grew from 100 miles (161 km) to over 4,000, with a complex network making the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 navigable, in conjunction with Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, although some canals were later drained and used as railroad rights-of-way
Right-of-way (railroad)
A right-of-way is a strip of land that is granted, through an easement or other mechanism, for transportation purposes, such as for a trail, driveway, rail line or highway. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way...

.

In the United States, navigable canals reached into isolated areas and brought them in touch with the world beyond. By 1825 the Erie Canal
Erie Canal
The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

, 363 miles (584.2 km) long with 82 locks, opened up a connection from the populated Northeast to the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

. Settlers flooded into regions serviced by such canals, since access to markets was available. The Erie Canal (as well as other canals) was instrumental in lowering the differences in commodity prices between these various markets across America. The canals caused price convergence between different regions because of their reduction in transportation costs, which allowed Americans to ship and buy goods from farther distances for much lower prices compared to before. Ohio built many miles of canal, Indiana had working canals for a few decades, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal
Illinois and Michigan Canal
The Illinois and Michigan Canal ran from the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago on the Chicago River to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, on the Illinois River. It was finished in 1848 when Chicago Mayor James Hutchinson Woodworth presided over its opening; and it allowed boat transportation from the Great...

 connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 system until replaced by a channelized river waterway.

Three major canals with very different purposes were built in what is now Canada. The first Welland Canal
Welland Canal
The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

, which opened in 1829 between Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 and Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

, bypassing Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has...

 and the Lachine Canal
Lachine Canal
The Lachine Canal is a canal passing through the southwestern part of the Island of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, running 14.5 kilometres from the Old Port of Montreal to Lake Saint-Louis, through the boroughs of Lachine, Lasalle and Sud-Ouest.The canal gets its name from the French word for China...

 (1825), which allowed ships to skirt the nearly impassable rapids on the St. Lawrence River at Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 were built for commerce. The Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal , also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and is still in use today, with most of its...

, completed in 1832, connects Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, on the Ottawa River
Ottawa River
The Ottawa River is a river in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For most of its length, it now defines the border between these two provinces.-Geography:...

 to Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...

 on Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

. The Rideau Canal was built as a result of the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 to provide military transportation between the British colonies of Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 and Lower Canada
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 as an alternative to part of the St. Lawrence River, which was susceptible to blockade by the United States.

In France, a steady linking of all the river systems—Rhine, Rhône
Rhône
Rhone can refer to:* Rhone, one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France* Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhone River and one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva in the far eastern end of the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

, Saône
Saône
The Saône is a river of eastern France. It is a right tributary of the River Rhône. Rising at Vioménil in the Vosges department, it joins the Rhône in Lyon....

, and Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

—and the North Sea was boosted in 1879 by the establishment of the Freycinet gauge
Freycinet gauge
The Freycinet gauge is a standard governing the dimensions of the locks of some canals, put in place as a result of a law passed during the tenure of Charles de Freycinet as prime minister of France, dating from 5 August 1879....

, which specified the minimum size of locks so that canal traffic doubled in the first decades of the 20th century.

Many notable sea canals were completed in this period, starting with the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 (1869), and the Kiel Canal
Kiel Canal
The Kiel Canal , known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal until 1948, is a long canal in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.The canal links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau. An average of is saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around the Jutland Peninsula....

 (1897), which carries tonnage many times that of most other canals, though the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 was not opened until 1914.

In the 19th century, a number of canals were built in Japan including the Biwako canal and the Tone canal. These canals were partially built with the help of engineers from the Netherlands and other countries.

Modern uses



Large-scale ship canals such as the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 and Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 continue to operate for cargo transportation, as do European barge canals. Due to globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, they are becoming increasingly important, resulting in expansion projects such as the Panama Canal expansion project.

The narrow early industrial canals, however, have ceased to carry significant amounts of trade and many have been abandoned to navigation, but may still be used as a system for transportation of untreated water. In some cases railways have been built along the canal route, an example being the Croydon Canal
Croydon Canal
The Croydon Canal ran from Croydon, via Forest Hill, to the Grand Surrey Canal at New Cross in south London, England. It opened in 1809, and closed in 1836, making it the first canal to be formally abandoned by an Act of Parliament.-History:...

.

A movement that began in Britain and France to use the early industrial canals for pleasure boats, such as hotel barge
Hotel barge
The Hotel Barge came into being following the decline in commercial and freight carriage on the canals of Europe. Many working barges have been converted into floating hotels of varying degrees of luxury...

s, has spurred rehabilitation of stretches of historic canals. In some cases, abandoned canals such as the Kennet and Avon Canal
Kennet and Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of , made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section...

 have been restored and are now used by pleasure boaters. In Britain, canalside housing has also proven popular in recent years.

The Seine-Nord Europe Canal
Seine-Nord Europe Canal
The Seine-Nord Europe Canal is a high capacity canal in development, with preliminary works set to begin in 2010, with major construction from 2012 and due to open in 2016. It is projected to begin from the Oise River at Janville, Oise, north of Compiègne, to the Canal Dunkerque-Escaut, east of...

 is being developed into a major transportation waterway, linking France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 with Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

.

Canals have found another use in the 21st century, as easement
Easement
An easement is a certain right to use the real property of another without possessing it.Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property or allowing an individual to fish in a privately owned pond...

s for the installation of fibre optic telecommunications network cabling, avoiding having them buried in roadways while facilitating access and reducing the hazard of being damaged from digging equipment.

Canals are still used to provide water for agriculture. An extensive canal system exists within the Imperial Valley
Imperial Valley
The Imperial Valley is an agricultural area of Southern California's Imperial County. It is located in southeastern Southern California, centered around the city of El Centro. Locally, the terms "Imperial Valley" and "Imperial County" are used synonymously. The Valley is bordered between the...

 in the Southern California desert to provide irrigation to agriculture within the area.

Cities on water




Canals are so deeply identified with Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 that many canal cities have been nicknamed "the Venice of…". The city is built on marshy islands, with wooden piles supporting the buildings, so that the land is man-made rather than the waterways. The islands have a long history of settlement; by the 12th century, Venice was a powerful city state.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 was built in a similar way, with buildings on wooden piles. It became a city around 1300.

Other cities with extensive canal networks include: Alkmaar
Alkmaar
Alkmaar is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Noord Holland. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market. For tourists, it is a popular cultural destination.-History:...

, Amersfoort
Amersfoort
Amersfoort is a municipality and the second largest city of the province of Utrecht in central Netherlands. The city is growing quickly but has a well-preserved and protected medieval centre. Amersfoort is one of the largest railway junctions in the country, because of its location on two of the...

, Bolsward
Bolsward
Bolsward is a city in Súdwest Fryslân in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands. Bolsward is just short of a population of 10,000.- History :The town is founded on three artificial dwelling hills, of which the first was built some time before Christ....

, Brielle
Brielle
Brielle , also called Den Briel is a town and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, on the north side of the island of Voorne-Putten, at the mouth of the New Maas. The municipality covers an area of 31.12 km² of which 3.63 km² is water...

, Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

, Den Bosch, Dokkum
Dokkum
Dokkum is a Dutch fortified town in the municipality of Dongeradeel in the province of Friesland. It has 13,145 inhabitants . The fortifications of Dokkum are well preserved and are known as the bolwerken . - History :...

, Dordrecht
Dordrecht
Dordrecht , colloquially Dordt, historically in English named Dort, is a city and municipality in the western Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland. It is the fourth largest city of the province, having a population of 118,601 in 2009...

, Enkhuizen
Enkhuizen
Enkhuizen is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland and the region of West-Frisia.Enkhuizen was one of the harbour-towns of the VOC, just like Hoorn and Amsterdam, from where overseas trade with the East Indies was conducted. It received city rights in 1355...

, Franeker
Franeker
Franeker is one of the eleven historical cities of Friesland and capital of the municipality of Franekeradeel. It is located about 20 km west of Leeuwarden on the Van Harinxma Canal. As of 1 January 2006, it had 12,996 inhabitants. The city is famous for the Eisinga Planetarium from around...

, Gouda
Gouda
Gouda is a city and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. Gouda, which was granted city rights in 1272, is famous for its Gouda cheese, smoking pipes, and 15th-century city hall....

, Haarlem
Haarlem
Haarlem is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland, the northern half of Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic...

, Harlingen
Harlingen
Harlingen may mean:* Harlingen, Netherlands, a municipality and city in the province of Friesland* Harlingen, Texas, a city in the United States* Harlingen, New Jersey, an unincorporated village in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, United States...

, Leeuwarden, Leiden, Sneek
Sneek
Sneek is a city southwest of Leeuwarden and seat of the former municipality of Sneek in the province of Friesland . As for 2011 it is part of the municipality Súdwest Fryslân...

 and Utrecht
Utrecht
Utrecht is a city in the Netherlands.The name may also refer to:* Utrecht , of which Utrecht is the capital* Utrecht , including the city of Utrecht* Bishopric of Utrecht* Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Utrecht...

 in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Brugge
Brügge
Brügge is a municipality in the district of Rendsburg-Eckernförde, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.Its small church and market square are noted for their beauty....

 and Gent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 — which has 35 miles of canals, to Venice's 26 miles —, Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale is a city in the U.S. state of Florida, on the Atlantic coast. It is the county seat of Broward County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 165,521. It is a principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, which was home to 5,564,635 people at the 2010...

, and Cape Coral, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Cape Coral is a municipality located in Lee County, Florida, United States, on the Gulf of Mexico. Founded in 1957 and developed as a master-planned, pre-platted community, the city grew to a population of 154,305 by the year 2010. With an area of , Cape Coral is the largest city between Tampa and...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City
Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City
The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site in Liverpool, England. It comprises six locations in the city centre of Liverpool including the Pier Head, Albert Dock and William Brown Street, and includes many of the city's most famous landmarks.UNESCO received...

 is a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 near the centre of Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, England, where a system of intertwining waterways and docks is now being developed for mainly residential and leisure use.

Canal Estates (commonly known as bayous) are a form of subdivision
Subdivision (land)
Subdivision is the act of dividing land into pieces that are easier to sell or otherwise develop, usually via a plat. The former single piece as a whole is then known in the United States as a subdivision...

 popular in cities like Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

, Texas City, Texas
Texas City, Texas
Texas City is a city in Chambers and Galveston counties in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 41,521 at the 2000 census. It is a part of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

 and the Gold Coast, Queensland
Gold Coast, Queensland
Gold Coast is a coastal city of Australia located in South East Queensland, 94km south of the state capital Brisbane. With a population approximately 540,000 in 2010, it is the second most populous city in the state, the sixth most populous city in the country, and also the most populous...

; the Gold Coast has over 700 km of residential canals. Wetlands are difficult areas upon which to build housing estates, so dredging part of the wetland down to a navigable channel provides fill to build up another part of the wetland above the flood level for houses. Land is built up in a finger pattern that provides a suburban street layout of waterfront housing blocks.

Boats



Inland canals have often had boats specifically built for them. An example of this is the British narrowboat
Narrowboat
A narrowboat or narrow boat is a boat of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of Great Britain.In the context of British Inland Waterways, "narrow boat" refers to the original working boats built in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for carrying goods on the narrow canals...

, which is up to 72 feet (21.95 m) long and 7 feet (2.13 m) wide and was primarily built for British Midland canals. In this case the limiting factor was the size of the locks. This is also the limiting factor on the Panama canal where Panamax
Panamax
Panamax and New Panamax are popular terms for the size limits for ships traveling through the Panama Canal. Formally, the limits and requirements are published by the Panama Canal Authority titled "Vessel Requirements"...

 ships are limited to a length of 294.1 m (965 ft) and a width of 32.3 m (106 ft). For the lockless Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 the limiting factor for Suezmax
Suezmax
Suezmax is a naval architecture term for the largest ship measurements capable of transiting the Suez Canal, and is almost exclusively used in reference to tankers. Since the canal has no locks, the only serious limiting factors are draft , and height due to the Suez Canal Bridge...

 ships is generally draft, which is limited to 16 m (52.5 ft). At the other end of the scale, tub-boat canals such as the Bude Canal
Bude Canal
The Bude Canal was a canal built to serve the hilly hinterland in the Devon and Cornwall border territory in the United Kingdom, chiefly to bring lime-bearing sand for agricultural fertiliser. The Bude Canal system was one of the most unusual in Britain....

 were limited to boats of under 10 tons for much of their length due to the capacity of their inclined planes or boat lifts. Most canals have a limit on height imposed either by bridge
Bridge
A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle...

s or by tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

s.

Lists of canals



  • Europe
    • Canals of France
    • Canals of Amsterdam
      Canals of Amsterdam
      Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands, has been called the "Venice of the North" for its more than one hundred kilometres of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, form...

    • Canals of Germany
    • Canals of Ireland
      Canals of Ireland
      *Boyne Navigation*Broharris Canal*Coalisland Canal *Dukart's Canal*Grand Canal*Lacy's Canal*Lagan Canal*Lecarrow Canal*Newry Canal*Royal Canal*Shannon-Erne Waterway*Strabane Canal*Ulster Canal...

    • Canals of Russia
    • Canals of the United Kingdom
      Canals of the United Kingdom
      The canals of the United Kingdom are a major part of the network of inland waterways in the United Kingdom. They have a colourful history, from use for irrigation and transport, through becoming the focus of the Industrial Revolution, to today's role for recreational boating...

  • North America
    • Canals of Canada
      Canals of Canada
      Canada has a number of canals including some ship canals. Most are located in eastern Canada, namely in Ontario, Quebec and 3 in Nova Scotia. Seton Canal is located in British Columbia and is mostly a diversion channel.-List of canals:*Beauharnois Canal...

    • Canals of the United States

See also



  • Barge
    Barge
    A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

    s of all types
  • British Waterways
    British Waterways
    British Waterways is a statutory corporation wholly owned by the government of the United Kingdom, serving as the navigation authority in England, Scotland and Wales for the vast majority of the canals as well as a number of rivers and docks...

  • Canal tunnel
    Canal tunnel
    A canal tunnel is a tunnel for a canal. The biggest canal tunnel in the world is the Rove Tunnel in France. The oldest canal tunnel in the world is the Malpas Tunnel also in France, built in 1679. In the United States there is the Paw Paw Tunnel that opened in 1850.In some canal tunnels the towpath...

  • Channel
    Channel (geography)
    In physical geography, a channel is the physical confine of a river, slough or ocean strait consisting of a bed and banks.A channel is also the natural or human-made deeper course through a reef, sand bar, bay, or any shallow body of water...

  • Ditch
    Ditch
    A ditch is usually defined as a small to moderate depression created to channel water.In Anglo-Saxon, the word dïc already existed and was pronounced 'deek' in northern England and 'deetch' in the south. The origins of the word lie in digging a trench and forming the upcast soil into a bank...

  • Environment Agency
    Environment Agency
    The Environment Agency is a British non-departmental public body of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an Assembly Government Sponsored Body of the Welsh Assembly Government that serves England and Wales.-Purpose:...

  • History of the British canal system
    History of the British canal system
    The British canal system of water transport played a vital role in the United Kingdom's Industrial Revolution at a time when roads were only just emerging from the medieval mud and long trains of pack horses were the only means of "mass" transit by road of raw materials and finished products The...

  • Horse-drawn boat
    Horse-drawn boat
    A horse-drawn boat or tow-boat is a historic boat operating on a canal, pulled by a horse walking on a special road along the canal, the towpath.-United Kingdom:...

  • Infrastructure
    Infrastructure
    Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...


  • Irrigation district
    Irrigation district
    In the United States an irrigation district is a cooperative, self-governing public corporation set up as a subdivision of the State government, with definite geographic boundaries, organized, and having taxing power to obtain and distribute water for irrigation of lands within the district;...

  • Lists of canals
  • List of navigation authorities in the United Kingdom
  • List of waterways
  • List of waterway societies in the United Kingdom
  • Lock
    Lock (water transport)
    A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied; whereas in a caisson lock, a boat lift, or on a canal inclined plane, it is...

  • Navigable aqueduct
    Navigable aqueduct
    Navigable aqueducts are bridge structures that carry navigable waterway canals over other rivers, valleys, railways or roads. They are primarily distinguished by their size, carrying a larger cross-section of water than most water-supply aqueducts...

  • Navigation authority
    Navigation authority
    A navigation authority is a company or statutory body which is concerned with the management of a navigable canal or river.-Rights of a navigation authority:...


  • Narrowboat
    Narrowboat
    A narrowboat or narrow boat is a boat of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of Great Britain.In the context of British Inland Waterways, "narrow boat" refers to the original working boats built in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for carrying goods on the narrow canals...

  • Roman canals - (Torksey)
  • Volumetric flow rate
    Volumetric flow rate
    The volumetric flow rate in fluid dynamics and hydrometry, is the volume of fluid which passes through a given surface per unit time...

  • Water bridge
  • Waterscape
    Waterscape
    Waterscape was set up in the summer of 2003 and is British Waterways leisure website, supported by the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority as an official information and leisure resource for inland waterways within the UK....

  • Water transportation
    Water transportation
    Water transportation is the intentional movement of water over large distances. Methods of transportation fall into three categories:* Aqueducts, which include pipelines, canals, and tunnels,...

  • Waterway
    Waterway
    A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

  • Waterway restoration
    Waterway restoration
    Waterway restoration is the activity of restoring a canal or river, including special features such as warehouse buildings, locks, boat lifts, and boats. In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, the focus of waterway restoration is on improving navigability, while in Australia the term...

  • Waterways in the United Kingdom
    Waterways in the United Kingdom
    Waterways in the United Kingdom is a link page for any waterway, river, canal, firth or estuary in the United Kingdom.-Related topics:*Waterway, water power, navigable, navigable aqueduct, navigable river, navigable waters, navigability, Waterway society, List of waterway societies in the United...

  • Weigh lock
    Weigh lock
    A weigh lock is a specialized canal lock designed to determine the weight of barges in order to assess toll payments based upon the weight and value of the cargo carried. This requires that the unladen weight of the barge be known....



External links