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The concept of a canal goes back almost to the day that European explorers first landed on the narrow land bridge that links North and South America.

They realised that the abundant natural lakes and waterways offered a unique opportunity to create a water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans but it wasn’t until technological advances and commercial pressure advanced to the point where the idea could become a reality that construction started in earnest.

An initial attempt by the French, who had recently completed the Suez Canal, failed but only after a great amount of excavation was carried out and thousands of lives lost. However this didn’t go to waste as it was used by United States engineers who finally completed the work in the early 1900’s, completing it in 1914.

During the construction process the nation of Panama was created in 1903 when US supported Panamanian nationalists achieved independence from Colombia in 1903. Ever since, and given the strategic importance of the canal to the US the two countries have worked closely together to the extent that often the Panamanian government seemed to be a puppet for the USA.

Since opening, the canal has been enormously successful, and continues to be a key conduit for international naval trade. The canal can accommodate vessels from small private yachts up to large commercial vessels. The maximum size of vessel that can use the canal is known as Panamax; an increasing number of modern ships exceed this limit, and are known as post-Panamax vessels. A typical passage through the canal by a cargo ship takes around nine hours. 14,011 vessels passed through in 2005, with a total capacity of 278.8 million tons, making an average of almost 40 vessels per day

The history of the Panama Canal is fascinating and bears further investigation. Here are a few links if you are interested.

US Library of Congress
Eclipse
Panama Information
Panama Canal Museum

Category: Historic Events

3 Responses to “The Panama Canal Finally Opened on 15th August 1914”

  1. Raymond says:

    Thanks for sharing this information about Panama. Regards. Ray

  2. Stuart says:

    Interesting information on Panama. I think I’ll see about going out there are cruising through the canal.

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