From Academic Kids
Canals are man-made waterways, usually connecting existing lakes, rivers, or oceans. Irrigation canals are man-made waterways for the delivery of water and preceded the use of transportation canals used by barges or narrowboats on smaller canals, and by ships on ship canals that connect to the ocean.
The oldest known canals were built in Mesopotamia, c. 4 000 BC. Ancient canals in the West were dwarfed by the Grand Canal of China, the longest canal built in ancient times. In Europe and then in the young United States, inland canals preceded the development of railroads during the earliest phase of the Industrial Revolution; some canals were later drained and used as railroad right-of-way. Navigable canals reached into previously isolated areas and brought them in touch with the world-economy. The Erie canal for instance, opened up a connection to the fertile Great Plains.
The pace of draining of fenland and polder in the Low Countries quickened in the 14th century and canalization made the village of Amsterdam a port. Canals are so deeply identified with Venice that all cities that have canals used as waterways have been called "the Venice of..."
Some rivers have also been 'canalised' to make them navigable. Competition from the railroad network made canals obsolete for commercial transportation, and many fell into decay. A movement that began in Great Britain and France to use the picturesque early industrial canals for pleasure boats has spurred rehabilitation of stretches of historic canals
For a time in the early 20th century, it was believed that there were canals on Mars.
Famous canals and lists
- List of waterways
- List of canals in the United States
- Canals of the United Kingdom
- Suez Canal
- Panama Canal
- Wellend Canal - Central Canada
- Saint Lawrence Seaway - Quebec, Ontario, Canada
- Rideau Canal - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Shubie Canal - Nova Scotia, Canada