TLDR: Canals are man-made waterways that are used for things like transportation and irrigation. They are like artificial rivers and have locks and dams to control the water flow. Canals have been around for a long time and have played a big role in the development of civilizations.
Canals are basically artificial waterways that are built for different purposes. They can be used for managing water, like controlling floods and providing irrigation for crops. They can also be used for transporting goods and people by boat, like a water taxi. Canals are like man-made rivers, with calm water that flows under atmospheric pressure.
Most canals have dams and locks, which are structures that control the water flow. Dams create reservoirs of slow-moving water, called slack water levels, while locks help boats move up and down in the canal. Canals can also be built alongside natural rivers, sharing their water and resources.
Sometimes, canals need to cross over high areas, like hills or ridges. In these cases, an external water source is needed to provide water at a higher elevation. The most famous example of this is the Panama Canal, which cuts across a drainage divide and connects two different drainage basins.
Canals have been built all over the world, including in ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt. They were important for commerce and the growth of civilizations. In Europe, canals played a big role in the Industrial Revolution, allowing for the transportation of goods and raw materials. The first modern canal in the UK is debated, but the Sankey Brook Navigation and the Bridgewater Canal are often mentioned.
Canals have different features depending on their purpose. They can have locks, weirs, and dams to control water levels and improve navigation. They can also have aqueducts to bridge over streams and roads. Canals can be used for different types of waterways, like transporting goods and people or providing water supply for cities and agriculture.
Overall, canals have been important for transportation, commerce, and water management throughout history. They have shaped the development of civilizations and continue to be used today for various purposes.