Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

Top 10 Longest Canals in the World

S. No

Longest Canals



Grand Canal

1,776 Km


Karakum Canal

1,375 Km


Saimaa Canal

814 Km


Eurasia Canal

700 Km


Manych Ship Canal

700 km


Indira Gandhi Canal

650 km


Erie canal

584 km


Grand Union Canal

461 Km


Nara Canal

364 km


Rhone–Rhine Canal

349 km

Longest Canal in the World

The Longest Canal in the World holds the distinction of being the most extensive man-made waterway ever constructed. Spanning vast distances, this engineering marvel connects various regions, facilitates transportation, and plays a crucial role in international trade. With its impressive length and historical significance, the biggest Canal in the world stands as a testament to human ingenuity and ambition. Its construction involved immense planning, labor, and technical expertise, ultimately transforming the landscapes it traverses and enhancing global connectivity.


1. Grand Canal (1,776 Km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Grand Canal, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, is the longest and oldest man-made waterway in the world. Spanning an impressive distance of 1,776 kilometers, it connects Beijing in the north with Hangzhou in the south, passing through several provinces in eastern China. Construction of the Grand Canal began over 2,500 years ago during the Spring and Autumn period, and it was completed during the Sui Dynasty in the 7th century.

The canal serves as a vital transportation route, linking major cities, towns, and rural areas along its path. It played a crucial role in facilitating trade, cultural exchange, and economic development throughout China’s history. The Grand Canal enabled the transport of goods such as rice, silk, tea, and various other commodities, contributing to the prosperity of the regions it connected.

Today, the Grand Canal remains a significant waterway, although its role has evolved with the advent of modern transportation. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts numerous tourists who can explore its picturesque scenery, historical relics, and charming canal towns. The Grand Canal stands as a remarkable testament to China’s engineering prowess and its rich cultural heritage.

2. Karakum Canal (1,375 Km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Karakum Canal, also known as the Great Turkmen Canal, is an impressive waterway located in Turkmenistan. Stretching across a distance of approximately 1,375 kilometers, it is one of the longest canals in the world. Construction of the Karakum Canal began in 1954 and was completed in 1988, with the primary aim of diverting water from the Amu Darya River to irrigate the arid Karakum Desert.

The canal plays a vital role in transforming vast stretches of the desert into productive agricultural land. By providing water for irrigation, it has facilitated the cultivation of crops, including cotton, wheat, melons, and vegetables. The agricultural activities supported by the canal have had a significant impact on the local economy and have helped improve food security in the region.

The Karakum Canal is a remarkable feat of engineering, involving the excavation of vast amounts of earth and the construction of various structures, including reservoirs and pumping stations. It has not only altered the landscape but has also brought about environmental changes, including the formation of new ecosystems and the conservation of biodiversity.

3. Saimaa Canal (814 Km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Saimaa Canal is an impressive waterway located in southeastern Finland. Stretching across a distance of 814 kilometers, it connects the Saimaa lake system with the Gulf of Finland, providing an important navigational route for cargo and passenger ships. The canal was officially opened in 1856, and since then, it has played a vital role in facilitating trade, tourism, and recreational activities in the region.

The Saimaa Canal consists of a series of locks, channels, and artificial waterways that allow ships to traverse the elevation differences between the lake system and the sea. It has greatly enhanced connectivity between Finland and other Baltic Sea countries, enabling the transportation of goods such as timber, minerals, and industrial products.

Aside from its economic significance, the Saimaa Canal has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors who can experience leisure cruises, explore picturesque landscapes, and enjoy outdoor activities such as boating and fishing. The canal has also contributed to the development of local industries and has been instrumental in promoting regional cooperation and cultural exchange.

The Saimaa Canal stands as a testament to Finland’s engineering expertise and its commitment to sustainable transportation and economic development. It has become an integral part of the region’s identity and continues to play a vital role in connecting communities and fostering international relations.

4. Eurasia Canal (700 Km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Eurasia Canal is a monumental waterway project with a length of 700 kilometers, connecting the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. Proposed as an ambitious endeavor, the canal aims to provide a shorter route for maritime transportation between Europe and Asia, bypassing the traditional route through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal. The construction of the Eurasia Canal involves overcoming various engineering challenges, including navigating through rugged terrains and addressing environmental concerns.

The canal is expected to enhance trade and economic integration between Europe and Asia by reducing shipping distances and costs. It would also create new opportunities for regional development, facilitating the growth of industries, and improving connectivity between countries in the region. The Eurasia Canal holds great potential to reshape global trade patterns, stimulate economic growth, and foster closer ties between nations in Europe and Asia.

5. Manych Ship Canal (700 km)

The Manych Ship Canal, stretching across a distance of 700 kilometers, is a vital waterway in southern Russia that links the Azov Sea to the Caspian Sea. It serves as a crucial transportation route for commercial vessels, connecting major ports in the region and facilitating trade between Europe and Asia. The construction of the Manych Ship Canal aimed to overcome geographical barriers and provide a direct passage for ships, bypassing the long journey around the Crimean Peninsula. 

The canal passes through diverse landscapes, including plains, steppes, and lowland areas, showcasing the engineering prowess required to overcome natural obstacles. It has played a significant role in promoting economic development in the region, supporting agriculture, fostering tourism, and enabling efficient transportation of goods. The Manych Ship Canal stands as a testament to human determination and engineering excellence, contributing to regional integration and enhancing maritime connectivity.

6. Indira Gandhi Canal (650 km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Indira Gandhi Canal, spanning a remarkable length of 650 kilometers, is an ambitious irrigation project in India. It was constructed to harness the waters of the Himalayan rivers and channel them into the arid regions of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. Named after the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, this canal has been instrumental in transforming the agricultural landscape of the region. By providing a lifeline to communities in one of the most water-scarce areas of the country, the Indira Gandhi Canal has facilitated the cultivation of crops, increased agricultural productivity, and improved the socio-economic conditions of the local population. 

The canal has also contributed to the ecological balance by replenishing groundwater levels, supporting wildlife habitats, and facilitating afforestation efforts. The Indira Gandhi Canal remains a remarkable example of successful water resource management and an enduring symbol of India’s commitment to sustainable development in challenging environments.

7. Erie Canal (584 km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Erie Canal, stretching over a distance of 584 kilometers, holds a significant place in American history and engineering. Completed in 1825, it connects the Great Lakes region to the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River, effectively creating a vital inland waterway. The canal played a crucial role in the economic development of the United States, serving as a key trade route for goods and fostering the growth of cities along its path, such as Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. 

The Erie Canal’s construction involved impressive feats of engineering, including the creation of locks and aqueducts to navigate elevation changes and cross rivers. It significantly reduced transportation costs, making it easier to transport goods and fostering the expansion of agriculture and industry in the Midwest. Today, the Erie Canal remains an important recreational waterway, attracting boaters, cyclists, and history enthusiasts who appreciate its legacy as a transformative infrastructure project.

8. Grand Union Canal (461 Km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Grand Union Canal, spanning 461 kilometers, is an extensive waterway system in England that plays a significant role in the country’s canal network. It was formed in 1929 through the amalgamation of several existing canals, including the Grand Junction Canal, the Warwick and Napton Canal, and the Leicester Line of the Old Grand Union Canal. The canal serves as a crucial transportation route, linking London to various industrial and agricultural regions in the Midlands and the South East of England. It played a vital role in the transport of goods such as coal, building materials, and agricultural products during the industrial revolution.

 Today, the Grand Union Canal is not only used for commercial purposes but also serves as a popular leisure destination. It offers opportunities for boating, fishing, walking, and cycling, attracting both locals and tourists who appreciate its scenic beauty and historical significance.

9. Nara Canal (364 km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Nara Canal, spanning 364 kilometers, is a significant irrigation and water supply canal located in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Completed in 1901, it originates from the Chenab River near Trimmu and flows southwards, traversing multiple districts, including Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, and Okara. The Nara Canal serves as a lifeline for agriculture in the region, providing water for irrigation to vast stretches of fertile land. It has played a crucial role in transforming the arid areas of Punjab into productive agricultural zones, facilitating the cultivation of crops such as wheat, cotton, sugarcane, and vegetables.

The canal’s construction involved the building of barrages, headworks, and distributaries to effectively distribute water to the surrounding agricultural fields. The Nara Canal continues to be a vital water source, contributing significantly to Pakistan’s agricultural output and supporting the livelihoods of countless farmers in the region.

10. Rhone–Rhine Canal (349 km)

Longest Canals in the World: Top 10 Magnificent Waterways

The Rhone-Rhine Canal, with a length of 349 kilometers, is a major waterway in northeastern France, connecting the Rhine River and the Saône River. Constructed between 1784 and 1834, the canal provides an essential transportation link between the Rhine basin and the Mediterranean Sea via the Rhône River. It enables the passage of goods, including coal, minerals, timber, and agricultural products, supporting trade and economic activity in the region. 

The canal features a system of locks, aqueducts, and tunnels to overcome elevation changes and traverse various landscapes. It also serves as a source of water supply for irrigation and industrial purposes. The Rhone-Rhine Canal showcases impressive engineering achievements, integrating natural and man-made elements to create a vital inland waterway. Additionally, the canal’s scenic beauty and recreational opportunities attract boaters, anglers, and tourists who appreciate its tranquil environment and historical significance.

Which is the Longest Canal in the World?

The Grand Canal, spanning an impressive distance of 1,776 kilometers, holds the esteemed title of being the longest canal in the world. Situated in China, this ancient waterway is an exceptional engineering feat that showcases the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. Construction of the Grand Canal began as early as the 5th century BC, and it underwent expansions and renovations over several dynasties, including the Sui, Tang, and Yuan.

The canal serves as a crucial artery, connecting major cities and regions across Eastern China. It links Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south, passing through the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. Along its vast stretch, the Grand Canal traverses diverse landscapes, including plains, hills, and rivers, requiring the construction of numerous locks, bridges, and aqueducts.

Historically, the Grand Canal played a pivotal role in China’s economic development and cultural exchange. It facilitated the transportation of vital goods, including grain, silk, porcelain, and tea, stimulating commerce and fostering regional trade. It also served as a conduit for cultural exchange, allowing ideas, philosophies, and artistic traditions to spread across different regions.

The Grand Canal’s significance extends beyond transportation and trade. It played a crucial role in flood control, irrigation, and water management, effectively harnessing water resources to support agriculture and mitigate natural disasters. The canal’s construction involved the creation of reservoirs, embankments, and diversion channels, ensuring the efficient flow of water.

Today, the Grand Canal remains a testament to China’s remarkable engineering prowess and serves as a vibrant cultural and historical landmark. Its picturesque scenery, ancient towns, and architectural marvels attract tourists and enthusiasts from around the world. Traveling along the canal by boat or exploring its towpaths allows visitors to experience the rich heritage and timeless beauty of China’s longest and most iconic waterway, the Grand Canal.

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