This unit dwells on the major sea routes in Europe


On both sides of the north Atlantic are areas of very dense rich population, with varying industrial activities.

This area is the busiest sea route in the world. It has some of the world’s largest sea and one of European sides the major ports include Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London, Oslo, Lisbon. These ports fringe the North Sea, Balistic sea and the English channel.

They are outlets for the rich agricultural, commercial and industrial areas of Europe. Large quantities of their manufactured goods are exported to North America.

On the North American side, the area is equally busy with some major ports like New York, Boston, and Montreal.

This system connects to the St. Lawrence and therefore increases the trade in the interior.



Important to the east and far West, it’s important for the transportation of tropical raw materials from Africa to Europe and the rest of the world and manufactured goods from Europe to Africa.

There has been trade along this route because of the development of most African countries.

The route connects Europe to Africa through Cape Town and continues in the Indian Ocean up to India. The important ports in India include Bombay and madras



It links Europe to the Far East. It transports goods from the Middle East and the tropical raw materials from the Asian countries.

The main towns along this route include Aden, Bombay, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Troubles of wars in the Middle East have interrupted the use of this route especially through the Suez Canal.

However, trade in the Mediterranean Sea still flourishes with ports like Tel-Aviv, Algiers and Venice.



This route has helped to avoid the long dangerous route of the Cape of Good Hope.

It has become the gateway to the Pacific and has facilitated trade in minerals, food stuffs and manufactured products between the east and West coastal areas of USA.

It’s also an important trade route for China, Japan and south-east Asian countries with Western Europe.


There are several water inland systems in the world, and they are also important for freight / cargo although to a small extent, they are used by passengers.

Most inland systems have been improved by man by the construction of canals that connect one natural body to another water body.

In other cases especially for rivers, some areas have been deepened, some of the major water ways include;-

  • Great lakes St Lawrence system
  • Tennessee River
  • Rhine River
  • Lake Victoria


The Rhine is Europe’s most important water way. It flows through Switzerland, Germany.

It’s navigable as far as bale and is ice free which allow its usage throughout the year. The river is linked to Rhone River and the Mediterranean by the Rhone- Rhine canal.

It’s also joined by many tributaries i.e. Masel.

The importance lies in the fact that it passes through the most important industrialized areas in the world i.e. Rhur industrial region and finally enters the busiest sea in the world (North Sea).

From its source, high in the Swiss Alps to its mouth at Rotterdam on the sea. It serves as a Hinterland to 6 Western Europe countries i.e. Switzerland, Germany, France, Australia, Netherlands and Belgium.

The cargos on the river Rhine include firm machinery, steel pipes, diesel engines, watches, food stuffs, oil, and coal and iron ore.




It facilitates the growth of industries. The growth of industries in the Ruhr industrial compels is partly attributed to the availability of cheap water transport used for both importation of raw materials and exportation of manufactured commodities.

The major industries found along the Ruhr River include iron and steel engineering, motor vehicle, textiles, chemicals and others.

Provides one of the world’s most efficient water way systems serving western and southern Germany, Switzerland and eastern France. These import large quantities of commodities. Upstream cargo traffic comprises of iron ore, coal, crude oil, cotton, and coal and food stuffs such as wheat, meat and dairy products.


Ruhr which is the biggest inland port in Europe owes its rapid growth on this water way. It’s found at the confluence of rivers Rhine and Ruhr and therefore was ripe for development as a port and trans-shipment point.

Duisburg is well known for smelters, chemical work, oil refineries, engineering works, petrol chemicals etc.

The water way has stimulated the growth of ports and towns ie Basel, Dusseldorf which is the one of the busiest ports in the world.

It’s also used to transport large quantities of commodities and export. Downstream Corgo comprises of chemicals, fertilizers, textiles, machinery, watches, confectioneries, automobiles particularly from German and Switzerland.

The waterway has reduced transport costs for the heavy and bulky goods such as oil, iron ore, petroleum and other products.

The Rhine water way has opened up markets for the wide variety of commodities produced in Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and eastern France. It has also facilitated exploitation of other raw materials i.e. Iron ore from the Lorraine via Moselle coal, oil etc.

Provision of employment to millions of people with those who make directly in the transport sector, on the ships in cleaning and forwarding on those working in industries that have emerged because of the advantages offered by this water way e.g. The engineering industries.

The water way has led to the development of tourism. The river together with its tributaries such as Hahr, marchei offer several beautiful sceneries as well as being a mode of transport for the tourists.

The water is a unifying factor in the region. It has helped to create political togetherness among the countries through which it flows.

Land locked states i.e. Switzerland have an easy access to the sea.

The water way has provided a better mode of transport than roads and railways.

Modernization of agriculture in the region has taken place because of the availability of a wide market potential for the agricultural products e.g. Market gardening in Netherlands



There are delays due to congestion. Because it’s one of the busiest water ways used by many countries, the Rhine is always congested with traffic overwhelming the operations.

Though the river is 750 miles long, it’s only navigable for some 550 miles long. After Basel, its flow through the German highlands is characterized with waterfalls and rapids which limit its use.

Large amounts of silt are deposited in the lower parts of the river making constant dredging a necessity witch is expensive.

The waterway limits the size of vessels used on the route. i.e. The large vessels can’t float upstream and stop at Rotterdam.

The Rhine is liable to constant flooding especially in the spring when winter snows begin to melt in the Alps.

At some points downstream, there is freezing and fog during the winter which requires the use of ice breakers and this is costly.

There is pollution from industrial waste and vessel fuel


This is the most important sea way in North America. It’s shared by Canada and USA. It runs from Duruth on Lake Superiors to the estuary of St. Lawrence below Quebec collecting the productive interior with the Atlantic Ocean thus bringing ocean shipping inland.

The sea way had a number of barriers before its construction:

  • Freezing during the winter
  • A series of waterfalls and rapids e.g. Nyagara, Sault St Marie.
  • A long bottleneck of 300 kms from Lake Ontario top Montreal which hindered large ocean going ships.
  • Thousands of islands i.e. at Montreal which prevented large ocean vessels to sail to the great lakes.
  • The river bed was filled with shoals of rock making it shallow and difficult to navigate
  • The problem of steep gradient in some areas i.e. Between Lake Iteroine and Lake Erie.
  • The main trade on the waterway includes iron ore, core, coal, grains, timber, diary products and a large range of manufactured goods.




The seaway has provided one of the easiest transport systems to the great lakes region and Canada.

It’s used to transport heavy and bulky raw materials such as wheat, iron ore, food products as well as finished products such as chemicals, textiles, vehicles, heavy machinery and others. It’s through import in the promotion of import and export trade.

The seaway has encouraged the effective exploitation of natural resources especially minerals in the great lakes region especially coal and iron ore from the western parts of Lake Superiour and Habrodor, coal from Pittesburg as Asbest from Fold etc.

The seaway has greatly contributed to the development of ports and towns such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Duluth, and Montreal, Quebec. These handle the river and lake traffic ie. Chicago has become one of the world’s biggest inland ports.

There has been an improvement of agriculture within the great lakes region and along the seaway.

This has been due to the number of industries which have been setup. These industries provide market for agriculture produce. Today, the great lakes region is one of the world’s leading agricultural regions. Major farming types include diary and intensive mixed framing.

There has been an increase in the amount of HEP generated along the seaway eg. Near the nkyamu falls and this has accelerated the growth of various industries within the region eg. Aluminum industries.



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