Grand Canal

Digital relief map of Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the longest artificial waterway in the world, extending about 1,115 miles (1790 km) from the outskirts of Peiping to Hangchow. Construction began in the 5th century B.C.E. and was substantially completed in the 6th century C.E., though improvements continued almost to modern times. Since the major rivers of China all run from west to east, this artificial river running from north to south proved an important part of the Imperial Chinese communications network.

The great flood of the Yellow River in 1855, which changed the river's course, also disrupted the Grand Canal, and much of its northern section fell into disuse. The late Qing Dynasty and their Kuomintang successors did little to renovate the canal, preferring railroad and port development instead. However, there was still significant traffic along the southern portion of the canal during the period of the Pacific War, and the Canal was a significant barrier to military movement among much of its length.

After the southern Canal fell under Japanese control in 1937-1938, it likely carried Japanese barge traffic protected by armored boats.


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