The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a shipping canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Panama. The canal runs from Limon Bay on the Atlantic to the Bay of Panama at the Pacific. It is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. Although the idea for the canal dates back to the 16th century, the first attempt to construct it began in 1880 by the French. The work was completed by the US in 1914 and it has been extremely successful ever since. After negotiations with the US, control of the canal was given to Panama . The Panama Canal can accommodate most ship sizes and ships must pay a toll to pass through. Tolls are determined by the size and type of ship and the cargo carried.
Interesting facts about the Panama Canal:
- Ships are towed through the canal by electric locomotives
- It takes a cargo ship approx. 9 hours to cross
- More than 14,000 ships pass through each year
- It took a decade to complete, from 1904 to 1914
- It has 17 artificial lakes, several channels and 2 locks
- It is approx. 82 km long and 43 feet deep
- The dams of the canal are used to produce hydroelectric power
The Future of the Panama Canal:
There is a current controversial plan to expand the Panama Canal. There are an increasing number of ships being made that are larger than what the canal can handle. The largest ship that can pass through at this time is the Panamax. The controversy over this issue is based on environmental concerns. A plan has also been approved to add a third set of locks.
Cruises on the Panama Canal:
There are a number of cruise lines offering Panama Canal cruises, including Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean International. The canal is not only an interesting part of the history of Panama but also offers beautiful scenery of rainforest and wildlife.