Kiel Canal, Germany

Channel This - 5 of the World's Most Important Canals

Zegrahm Contributor|January 11, 2017|Blog Post

With all the gridlock on our roadways, we forget that some of the world’s busiest transportation routes aren’t even on dry land. The oldest-known canals date back to 4000 BC in Mesopotamia, where they were used for irrigation. Yet these artificial waterways have played an even more crucial economic role in the development of civilization. By utilizing a series of locks, dams, and other engineered structures, canals create alternative freight channels and regulate maritime traffic of large ships, barges, and other water-bound vehicles. Here are five of the most important:

 

Panama

Opened in 1914, this 48-mile-long waterway through the Isthmus of Panama finally linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It also forever changed the way we travel, as ships were no longer required to sail the long, arduous journey around the tip of South America. A major expansion, completed in 2016, added a third set of locks. Zegrahm guests transit this engineering marvel on our 16-day Canal to Cuba with Panama, Costa Rica & Colombia expedition.

 

Suez

Stretching more than 100 miles through its namesake isthmus, the Suez Canal creates a crucial maritime route between the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Construction started in 1859; the gateway opened 10 years later with a vow to accommodate vessels from all countries. Its tenuous location, however, has forced its closure five times, the most recent lasting eight years until the 1975 accord between Egypt and Israel.

 

Kiel

Kaiser Wilhelm I laid the first stone for this important canal in 1887; his successor set down the final slab eight years later. Thus, the Baltic and North Seas were finally connected, allowing ships and barges to bypass the dubious route around Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula. 

 

Rhine-Main-Danube

Also known as the Europa Canal, this 106-mile-long, 16-lock canal connects three of Western Europe’s principal rivers. Original construction began in the 1930s, although several expansions have been made to accommodate the increase in both cargo and passenger traffic. The last extension, completed in 1992, allowed ships to finally travel uninterrupted between the North and Black Seas.

 

Beijing-Hangzhou Grand

The world’s oldest and longest man-made waterway is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering more than 1,100 miles and 2,500 years of history, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal connects five of the major rivers in China. It also courses through one of the country’s richest agricultural regions, making its importance in China’s development second only to the mighty Yangtze River.

 

Related Blog Posts

  • Milford Sound, New Zealand
    Blog Post

    20 Intriguing Christmas Traditions Around the World

    November 20, 2017 | Blog Post

    Christmas has become an almost ubiquitous celebration found all around the world. Nearly every country—even those not traditionally steeped in Christianity—acknowledges the holiday in some fashion.

    Read More

    Gorillas of the Congo
    Blog Post

    How to Plan a Trip: Tips from an Expert Travel Itinerary Planner

    November 15, 2017 | Blog Post

    Jon Nicholson, Zegrahm’s Director of Operations & Itinerary Planning, was becoming an expert on how to plan a trip before he was even old enough to drive.

    Read More

    Zebras at Sunset
    Blog Post

    Why Overland Adventures Rock

    November 13, 2017 | Blog Post

    The best travel adventures do not happen in a flash of instant gratification. Instead, they are the long, meandering journeys that give us more immersive, interactive experiences to savor. Sure, jumbo jets might get you to your destination faster; but once you arrive, I believe that overland adventures are the key to truly exploring the heart and soul of a place.

    Read More

  • Island Sky
    Blog Post

    What Are Expedition Cruises? Proof That Not All Cruises Are Created Equal

    November 10, 2017 | Blog Post

    Cruises have gotten a bad rap lately, and some would argue that’s justifiably so.

    Read More

    Grimsey Island
    Blog Post

    Tips for Surviving a Long Layover

    November 7, 2017 | Blog Post

    Ah, the dreaded long layover… We all love the convenience of direct flights to our destination. But there are times when long layovers are simply unavoidable, especially when you’re traveling internationally.

    Read More

    Berber Drummer, Morocco
    Blog Post

    The Importance of Cultural Geography: A Q&A with Zegrahm Expert Ron Wixman

    October 26, 2017 | Blog Post

    It’s tough to know where to start when you’re talking to a guy with a resumé like that of Zegrahm’s cultural geography expert, Ron Wixman.

    Read More

  • Tortuguero Canals, Costa Rica
    Infographics

    Costa Rica's Wildlife [Infographic]

    October 23, 2017 | Infographics

    The Wildlife of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

    Read More

    Mountain Gorilla, Rwanda
    Blog Post

    The 10 Best Places to See Animals in the Wild

    October 4, 2017 | Blog Post

    I’ve been a nature-lover my whole life, but I began traveling specifically to see animals in the wild back in the early ’90s. Still in my early 20s then, I was fascinated by watching wildlife. My passion grew exponentially as I took up photography and became more adept at spotting hidden animals.

    Read More

    Isla del Caño, Costa Rica
    Blog Post

    After the Storm: How Responsible Tourism Can Help Caribbean Hurricane Recovery Efforts

    October 3, 2017 | Blog Post

    Virtually every explorer dreams of traveling to the Caribbean at least once in their lifetime.

    Read More

  • Portobelo, Panama
    Blog Post

    Portobelo - A Tale of Plunder and Privateers

    October 2, 2017 | Blog Post

    Guests joining our Canal to Cuba journey spend a day exploring the colonial town of Portobelo, including its UNESCO-designated San Jerònimo (Geronimo) Fort and Castle of Santiago de la Gloria.

    Read More

    Isla Coiba, Panama
    Infographics

    Endemic Birds of Cuba [Infographic]

    September 20, 2017 | Infographics

    According to a story in USA Today, some 85 million Americans enjoy watching and/or photographing birds, ranking it 15th on the list of the most popular activities. A 2011 survey by the US Fish and Wildlife Service found that around 18 million people each year take trips exclusively for birdwatching, with many participating in competitions to spot as many species as possible.

    Read More

    Bordeaux, France
    Blog Post

    5 Must-Sips in Western Europe

    September 19, 2017 | Blog Post

    Sailing aboard the newly refurbished Ocean Adventurer, guests on our upcoming Discoveries of Coastal Europe journey can drink in Western Europe’s dramatic coasts from Lisbon to London.

    Read More