Panama Encyclopaedia

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  • 8/4/2019 Panama Encyclopaedia


    Panama Canal

    The Panama Canal

    A schematic of the Panama Canal, illustrating the sequence of locks and passages


    La Socit internationale du Canal



    John Findlay Wallace, John Frank Stevens (19061908), George WashingtonGoethals

    Date of first

    useAugust 15, 1914


    3 locks up, 3 down per transit; all two lanes

    (2 lanes of locks; locks built in three sites)

    Status Open

    Navigationauthority Panama Canal Authority

    Location of Panama between Pacific (bottom) and Caribbean (top), with canal at topcenter

    The Panama Canal (Spanish: Canal de Panam) is a 77-kilometre (48 mi) ship canal inPanama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit forinternational maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, annual traffic has risen from about1,000 ships in the canal's early days to 14,702 vessels in 2008, measuring a total 309.6million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons. In total over815,000 vessels have passed through the canal. [1] It has been named one of the sevenmodern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[2]

    One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal hadan enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long andtreacherous route via either the Strait of Magellan orCape Horn at the southernmost tipofSouth America. A ship sailing fromNew Yorkto San Francisco via the canal travels9,500 km (5,900 mi), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn.[3]

    The concept of a canal near Panama dates to the early 16th century. The first attempt toconstruct a canal began in 1880 underFrench leadership, but was abandoned after 21,900workers died, largely from disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides.The United States launched a second effort, incurring a further 5,600 deaths butsucceeding in opening the canal in 1914. The U.S. controlled the canal and the CanalZone surrounding it until the 1977 TorrijosCarter Treaties provided for the transition ofcontrol to Panama. From 1979 to 1999 the canal was under joint U.S.Panamanianadministration, and from 31 December 1999 command of the waterway was assumed bythe Panama Canal Authority, an agency of the Panamanian government.
  • 8/4/2019 Panama Encyclopaedia


    While the Pacific Ocean is west of the isthmus and the Atlantic to the east, the 8- to 10-hour journey through the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic is one from southeast tonorthwest. This is a result of the isthmus's "curving back on itself" in the region of thecanal. The Bridge of the Americas (Spanish:Puente de las Amricas) at the Pacific end isabout a third of a degree of longitude east of the end near Colon on the Atlantic.[4]

    The maximum size of vessel that can use the canal is known as Panamax. A Panamaxcargo ship typically has a DWT of 65,000-80,000 tonnes, but its actual cargo is restrictedto about 52,500 tonnes because ofdraft restrictions in the canal.[5] The longest ship everto transit was the San Juan Prospector, now Marcona Prospector, an ore-bulk-oil carrierthat is 973 ft (296.57 m) long, with a beam of 106 ft (32.31 m).[6]



    1 Historyo 1.1 Early proposal

    o 1.2 French construction attempt

    o 1.3 U.S. construction

    o 1.4 Isthmian Canal Commission

    o 1.5 Planning and construction begins

    o 1.6 Later developments

    2 Layout 3 Lock size 4 Tolls 5 Current issues

    o 5.1 Efficiency and maintenanceo 5.2 Capacity

    o 5.3 Competition

    o 5.4 Water issues

    6 The futureo 6.1 Third set of locks project

    o 6.2 Building the new canal

    o 6.3 Rival Colombia rail link

    7 Canal Pilots 8 Gatun Lake 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading

    12 External links