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waterway in northern Germany, extending eastward for 98 km (61 miles) from Brunsbuttelkoog (on the North Sea, at the mouth of the Elbe River) to Holtenau (at Kiel Harbour on the Baltic Sea). The canal has been enlarged twice and is today 160 metres (526 feet) wide and 11 metres (37 feet) deep and is spanned by seven high-level bridges that have about 43 metres (140 feet) of clearance for ships beneath them. The locks are 45 metres (146 feet) wide by 327 metres (1,072 feet) long. The canal constitutes the safest, most convenient, shortest, and cheapest shipping route between the two seas