A canoe is a lightweight narrow vessel, typically pointed at both ends and open on top, propelled by one or more seated or kneeling paddlers facing the direction of travel and using a single-bladed paddle.
In British English, the term "canoe" can also refer to a kayak, while canoes are then called Canadian or open canoes to distinguish them from kayaks.
Canoes are widely used for competition and pleasure, such as racing, whitewater, touring and camping, freestyle and general recreation. Canoeing has been part of the Olympics since 1936. The intended use of the canoe dictates its hull shape, length, and construction material. Historically, canoes were dugouts or made of bark on a wood frame, but construction materials evolved to canvas on a wood frame, then to aluminum. Most modern canoes are made of molded plastic or composites such as fiberglass.
Canoes were developed by cultures all over the world, including some designed for use with sails or outriggers. Until the mid-1800s the canoe was an important means of transport for exploration and trade, and in some places is still used as such, sometimes with the addition of an outboard motor. Where the canoe played a key role in history, such as the northern United States, Canada, and New Zealand, it remains an important theme in popular culture.