Canoe sprint competitions are broken up into Canadian canoe (C), an open canoe with a single-blade paddle, or in kayaks (K), a closed canoe with a double-bladed paddle. Each canoe or kayak can hold one person (1), two people (2), or four people (4). For each of the specific canoes or kayaks, such as a K-1 (kayak single), the competition distances can be 200 metres (660 ft), 500 metres (1,600 ft), 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), or 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) long. When a competition is listed as a C-2 500 m event as an example, it means two people are in a canoe competing at a 500 metres (1,600 ft) distance.
This medal table includes all events except the Paracanoe (formerly paddleability) and the Exhibition events. The current historical medal count of the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships as the 2015 championships is as follows: