Eurasia Ship Canal
|Length:||430 miles (700km)|
|Construction start date:||May 2003|
|Opening date:||10th August 2009|
|No. of locks:||4|
The Eurasia Ship Canal is the longest shipping canal in the world, connecting the Caspian or Mazandaran Sea with the Black Sea.
The Eurasia Canal connects the northern Caspian Sea with the Sea of Azov, and thence to the Black Sea. It follows the course of the Kuma and Manıç river valleys from the Caspian (Mazandaran) Sea on the border of Kalmykia and the North Caucasian Federation, connecting several navigable reservoirs along its route. It then enters the Don Republic and eventually empties into the lower Don River close to Rostov, having passed through only four elevation changes with locks along the way. This compares very favourably with the nine locks along the much shorter Volga-Don Canal in Muscovy.
Historically, the Ottoman Empire was the first to attempt to dig a canal connecting the Caspian and Black Seas, but this project was never completed.
The modern canal, and its route, was first proposed by then Turkestani Foreign Minister Nuraslan Näzbek-ulı in 1996. Originally there was some competition between the Eurasia Canal proposal and a competing proposal put forward by Muscovy to expand and reroute the Volga-Don Canal.
Turkestan, however, was not the only one favouring the more southerly route. Qazaqstan, Azerbaijan and Kalmykia also favoured Turkestan's proposal, though Persia and the Don Republic were more neutral, and the North Caucasian Federation, initially leaned towards the Muscovian proposal.
By 2003, funding was in place and construction could actually start. Regional ecotopic groups had been protesting the proposed canal since the idea was first taken up seriously, citing the potential damage to habitats and the probable contamination of the Caspian biosphere by alien fish and crustacean fauna, however, the potential economic benefits were seen by the governments involved as great enough to overrule these concerns.
In deference to the origin of the original impetus leading to the construction of the Canal, the first ship to traverse the Eurasia Ship Canal east to west will be the newest freighter of the Turkestani Merchant Marine, the "Maņğıstau". The first west to east traverse will be made by the marine biological research ship "Tethys" under Greek flag.
See also Wikipedia:Eurasia Canal.