The Importance Of The Panama Canal

Anatoly Gaviria July 12, 2013

The Panama Canal is a vital waterway that joins the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Until its creation, ships had to sail around the tip of South America to journey from one side of the world to another by water. There is much to be appreciated about this channel across Central America and here are some things everyone should know about it.

When this inland water passage was completed in the year 1914 it represented ten years of intense effort. Many workers lost their lives through disease and on the job accidents and working conditions were extremely harsh at times. Huge amounts of earth were removed by thousands of workers every day, in a mammoth project that had never been undertaken before. In fact, many thought that is simply was not possible.

This was not the first attempt to dig a waterway across the region, as France had tried a few years earlier. From 1850 to 1875 they conducted a number of surveys on this area. They knew the significance of such a channel but there were several disputes on the best way to build it.

The French firmly believed they could construct an inland water passage across Central America. After all, they had finished the Suez Canal in Egypt in 1869. This connected the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. However, they did not realize how much harder this project would become, and after much work they eventually failed.

This part of the world has been highly valued by many over the past few centuries. In fact, the United States and England had a great deal of interest in building a waterway across Nicaragua. Many disputes arose and a war was almost started as a result.

When the Panama Canal was completed, it greatly stimulated commerce on a worldwide basis. All types of cargo could move around the earth at a much faster rate. This greatly lowered the cost of shipping when eight thousand miles were cut from the distance. If you reduce shipping time from about sixty to thirty days you can move cargo at about half the price as before.

The United States military was able to benefit from this strategic waterway. In fact, until the end of the 20th century, the US maintained a presence in the region. However, it has since been returned to the Panamanian people.

Panama Canal Expansion

To this day, the Panama Canal is an important part of International shipping. A great deal of cargo still makes its way on ocean going vessels everyday and this special "shortcut" is just as advantageous now as it was over a hundred years ago. In fact, increased need for shipping cargo has created more and more demand on the waterway.

The expansion of the canal (Third Set of Locks Project) aims to construct a pair of lock complexes with one at each of its ends. These complexes are aimed at water preservation, something which had been a concern in the past relating to the continued use of the canal. The project will also aim at constructing new access channels as well as widening the channels that already exist in order to double the capacity of the Panama Canal, and thus allowing more and larger ships to transit.

The Panama Canal is believed by many to be one the greatest achievements in engineering ever accomplished. It is the culmination of many dreams, desires, and heartaches. This waterway remains an important element in global commerce and is only one of the many reasons for Panama's economic importance in the world today.