What Is the Grand Canal AP World History?

The Grand Canal is one of the most significant and impressive engineering feats in human history. It is a series of waterways that spans over 1,000 miles and connects China’s two major rivers, the Yangtze and the Yellow River.

History of the Grand Canal

The construction of the Grand Canal began in the 5th century BC, during the Warring States period. However, it wasn’t until the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD) that the canal was completed.

The canal was initially built to facilitate communication between northern and southern China. It was also used to transport goods such as rice, silk, and tea from southern China to the north.

The Importance of the Grand Canal

The Grand Canal played a crucial role in China’s economic development. It enabled farmers in southern China to transport their goods to markets in northern China more efficiently. This allowed for greater economic growth and prosperity throughout both regions.

Moreover, it also played a significant role in China’s military history. During times of war, troops could be transported via boats on the canal quickly. This was particularly important during times when invasions threatened China’s northern borders.

Structure of the Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is made up of four sections: The Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, The Sui-Tang Canal, The Huaibei Canal, and The Luoma Lake Water System.

The Beijing-Hangzhou canal is approximately 1,100 miles long and connects Beijing with Hangzhou. This section was constructed during the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 AD).

The Sui-Tang canal covers a distance of approximately 400 miles and connects Yangzhou with Luoyang. This section was constructed during the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD) and later expanded by the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).

The Huaibei Canal covers a distance of approximately 150 miles and connects the Huai River with the Yellow River. This section was constructed during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD).

The Luoma Lake Water System is a series of interconnected rivers and lakes that cover an area of approximately 1,000 square miles. It was created during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) to help regulate water flow in the canal.


In conclusion, the Grand Canal is not just an engineering marvel, but also a testament to China’s economic and military history. Its construction and expansion over several dynasties allowed for greater communication, transportation of goods, and military defense. Today it remains an important part of China’s history and attracts many visitors who come to admire its impressive structure.