Coordinates: 54 12 N 9 32 E
Length: 61 miles (98 km)
Although not always sought out by those who have learned to delight in scenic routes and picturesque detours, a good shortcut does come in handy from time to time. Let’s say you need to get a boat from the North Sea to the Baltic for example. You could sail around Jutland, the peninsula more often referred to as Denmark, or save yourself roughly 250 nautical miles by taking the Kiel Canal across the German State of Schleswig-Holstein.
Built in the nineteenth century, this artificial waterway is the world’s busiest, handling a daily average of 117 ships carrying 242,000 tons of cargo in 2005. Stretching across the low-lying region between Kiel in the east and Brunsbüttel in the west, the canal has been widened and deepened once since opening on June 21, 1895.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.