The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal


The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of engineering that has been described as a man made modern wonder. This is not surprising when you consider the fact that it is one of the biggest and most difficult engineering projects to ever be undertaken.

France began work on the canal in 1881, but had to stop because of engineering problems and high mortality due to disease. The United States took over the project in 1904, and took a decade to complete the canal, which was officially opened on August 15, 1914. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan.

It has been operational for one hundred years and has many very interesting features. It connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the Caribbean Sea and is vital to internationalmaritime trade.


A whole generation of ships have been built for the specific purpose of navigating the canal. These ships are built to the largest possible size that can travel via the canal. Ships that are built for this purpose are said to be built to the 'Panamax Spec'

There are sets of locks that are responsible for controlling tho flow of traffic and water in the canal. The locks at each end of the canal have been designed to lift ships so that they can access the Gatun Lake. The Gatun Lake is 85ft above sea level, it is an artificial lake that was created for the purpose of reducing the amount of excavation work that was required during construction.



Panama_CanalNew locks are currently under construction and it is estimated that they will be completed in 2015.


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