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. Our 17-day Best of the Baltic tour makes a daylight transit of this historic, 61-mile-long channel.

 

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

  • Embera Girls, Darien Province, Panama
    Blog Post

    Indigenous Cultures of Panama: An Introductory Guide

    May 9, 2017 | Blog Post

    Thanks to the country’s role as a bridge between North and South America, people have always come from all over the world to settle in Panama. As a result, the cultures of Panama are striking in terms of their sheer diversity. 

    Read More

    Great Barrier Reef
    Infographics

    2018: 26 Countries, 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites [Infographic]

    May 4, 2017 | Infographics

    In 2018, Zegrahm will be visiting 52 amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in over 25 countries! The United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the UN that maintains a list of important natural or histroical sites, whose preservation and safe-keeping are deemed important for the world community.

    Read More

    Cartagena, Colombia
    Blog Post

    The History of Latin America: A Brief Overview

    May 3, 2017 | Blog Post

    Latin America is a collection of countries encompassing everything between the northern end of Mexico and the southern end of South America, as well as numerous Caribbean islands.

    Read More

  • Visby, Sweden
    Blog Post

    Even Our Staff Agrees - You Don't Want to Miss the Baltic!

    May 2, 2017 | Blog Post

    We’ve been traveling to the Baltic region for nearly a decade; in that time, we’ve honed an incredible itinerary, filled with natural delights, stunning architecture, and rich history. Even our expedition staff is eager to return! Find out why, below:

     

    Read More

    Cape Verde
    Video

    You're Invited: Sea to Sahara with Cape Verde, Canary Islands & Morocco

    May 1, 2017 | Video

    Zegrahm Cofounder and Expedition Leader, Mike Messick, is thrilled to be joining our upcoming Sea to Sahara: Cape Verde, Canary Islands & Morocco expedition.

    Read More

    Canal to Cuba with Panama, Costa Rica & Colombia
    Blog Post

    Top Reasons to Travel to Central America with Zegrahm Expeditions

    April 26, 2017 | Blog Post

    When contemplating a cruise to Central America, there are a lot of options to choose from. With a seemingly endless variety of ships, itineraries, and activities, how you want to travel and the experiences you’d like to have are the most important factors to consider.

    Read More

  • Cape Verde
    Blog Post

    Cruising to Macaronesia: From Western Sahara to Unspoiled Islands

    April 17, 2017 | Blog Post

    In ancient times, the world was believed to end at the Strait of Gibraltar. The Atlantic was a wild, threatening expanse of waves, monsters, and mysteries; few seafarers dared sail its waters. But by the late Middle Ages, European ships began crossing regularly, eventually encountering the largely uninhabited islands of Macaronesia.

    Read More

    St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands
    Blog Post

    Finding Liberation in the Channel Islands

    April 12, 2017 | Blog Post

    When Englanders look to escape their busy everyday lives, many hop a ferry or turboprop for the short trip to the Channel Islands.

    Read More

    Sylt Island, Germany
    Blog Post

    When You Think of the Baltic...

    April 5, 2017 | Blog Post

    When you think of the Baltic, you likely picture stunning architecture and rich history; but did you know this region is also home to surprising natural beauty? Read on for some of our favorite natural highlights:

    Read More

  • Sark, Channel Islands
    Blog Post

    Discovering Coastal Europe

    April 4, 2017 | Blog Post

    In 2016, we embarked on our first-ever Discoveries of Coastal Europe expedition; and it was a hit!

    Read More

    Isla Coiba, Panama
    Blog Post

    Coiba: From Penal Colony to Marine Preserve

    March 23, 2017 | Blog Post

    Snorkeling the protected waters around Isla Coiba, one encounters colorful parrotfish, red squirrelfish, and yellow pufferfish, along with grouper, rays, and three species of turtle. Located about 15 miles off the southern coast of Panama, Central America’s largest island is encircled by 335 acres of vibrant coral reef, the second largest in the Eastern Pacific.

    Read More

    Island Sky
    Infographics