Waterway Systems
Systems Index

Waterway systems can be grouped into two main categories – collections of rivers and canals that allow ocean ship traffic to reach a region's interior – and geographic regions that might include a mix of seas, bays, straights and sounds.

In Europe, towns and cities grew up along the Rhine River System and the Danube River System. In China, inland trade began thousands of years ago on the Yangtze River System, composed of the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

Early metropolitan centers in the United States were started as ports on the Mississippi River System, the New York Harbor River System and the Great Lakes - Saint Lawrence Seaway.

The Baltic Sea Region is a regional waterway system based on natural geography. It includes the Baltic Sea, Bothnian Bay, Gulf of Bothnia, Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Riga. In western Canada and northwestern United States the Vancouver Island Waterway Systems is composed of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Haro Straight, Strait of Georgia, Discovery Passage, Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.

  Number of
Waterway System WaterwaysPorts
Arabian Sea Region   7 154
Black Sea Region   7 72
Ob River System   4 18
Yangtze River System   13 92
Yenisei River System   3 6
Baltic Sea Region   5 167
Danube River System   3 24
Elbe River System   7 35
Ems River System   6 31
Rhine River System   9 46
Seine River System   5 24
Volga River System   7 25
Weser River System   4 20
North America
Apalachicola River System   3 6
Chesapeake Bay Waterway   7 19
Columbia River System   3 23
Delaware Bay River System   2 17
Great Lakes - Saint Lawrence Seaway   11 134
Mississippi River System   12 100
Mobile Bay River System   7 27
New York Harbor River System   4 22
San Francisco Bay Waterway System   6 14
Vancouver Island Waterway Region   8 57
South America
Amazon River System   8 22
Rio de la Plata River System   4 42