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The Canal is a district in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm which provides passage from a body of water to a City Center or another body of water. It requires Steam Power (or Masonry for Qin Shi Huang).
The Canal must be built on flat land with a Coast or Lake tile on one side, and either a City Center or another body of water on the other. A single canal passage may go either straight, or bend 60 degrees; three-way canals are not allowed.
- Creates a maritime route, allowing ships to pass through it.
- Allows Traders to pass through it as part of their maritime routes, thus potentially allowing creation of much more efficient routes. Also, routes passing through a Canal receive bonus Gold.
- Does not depend on Population.
- No limit on the number that can be built per city.
- Military Engineers can spend a charge to complete 20% of a Canal's production.
- As an infrastructure district, a canal provides a +2 adjacency bonus to Industrial Zones.
Although Canals have long been seen as very valuable both in-game and in real life, its first-time appearance in the Civilization franchise as a district, not an improvement, can make it hard for players to find a situation in which Canals are worth building. Even though it does not count towards Population limits of the city, Canals do not provide Housing nor any other yields, and are also more expensive to construct than regular districts. The only very situational "yields" you can get out of Canals are Trade Routes that pass through Canals receiving more Gold.
Be sure to take advantage of the adjacency bonus that canals provide to Industrial Zones whenever possible.
Since a Canal's main usage is to create a smooth flow between land and sea within your empire, how useful it will be is heavily dependent on the map type. Canals will be the most useful on maps that have a balanced mix between land and sea, most notably Fractal and Shuffle maps since these maps often contain bodies of water isolated within lands, or bodies of water separated by a long stretch of land that will require many turns of sailing to get from one to another. Canals can easily be omitted on land dominated maps (Pangaea, Continents or Inland Sea) or water dominated maps (Archipelago or Island Plates) since on these maps, either naval units do not matter much or bodies of water are readily connected.
Note that construction of Canals and Dams can be sped up by Military Engineers, so remember to use them if you have to build these districts.
It is much easier to move heavy, bulky goods like grain, minerals, or animals by water than it is by land. Unfortunately, nature does not always provide waterways where a waterway would be most convenient. Fortunately, human beings invented shovels some time ago. A canal is an artificial waterway created to facilitate the transfer of goods by boat. This differentiates them from aqueducts, which are merely used to move the water itself.
Some impressive canals were constructed in antiquity. The Persian King Darius ordered a canal cut from the Nile River to the Red Sea (Egypt was a vassal of the Achaemenid Persians at the time). The Roman Empire built canals to support the urban centers throughout their empire. Many canals were cut in China, beginning in the 3rd Century BCE, and culminating with the immense Grand Canal. The Grand Canal is the largest man-made water in the world, at nearly 1,100 miles (1,800 km) first built in the 6th Century CE and developed for the next 500 years.
Modern canals are monumental feats of engineering but have extracted an immense toll in construction. The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, took a decade to build at an immense cost of lives. The construction of the Panama Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was even more costly in terms of lives and time and fortune, as workers toiled to level mountains in the face of tropical heat and diseases. These canals have also had unexpected impacts on ecosystems, enabling the unintentional transportation of invasive species from one part of the world to another.