The 1,700-kilometer-long Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is a water conservancy project in ancient China. It begins at Beijing and ends at Hangzhou. First constructed at the end of Spring and Autumn Period in the 5th century B.C., Grand Canal has played an important role in the development of water, conservancy and the economic as well as cultural exchange between the northern part and the southern part. It now becomes a distinguishing cultural site.
Different from most rivers in China which flow from west to east, the Grand Canal is a connector between the north and south from the Yangtze River Valley to the northern part, linking Haihe River, Yellow River, Huaihe River, Yangtze River, and Qiantang River. Due to its running direction, the Grand Canal played am very important role during the ancient time in economic industry.
Although the Grand Canal is not as an economic tie nowadays, it still is a key system for water diversion. The Beijing-Shanghai Railway and sophisticated road systems have marginalized the canal as an important means of transportation, although parts of it, mainly the central and southern sections, are still in use.