The Panama Canal is a shipping canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It is located in the country of Panama and is 77.1 km (48 mi) long. Work commenced on the Panama Canal in 1881 and was completed in 1914. The Panama Canal has been owned by Columbia, France and America, but is now owned by the country of Panama providing important income for the country’s economy. The Panama Canal has been named one of the seven wonders of the modern world. So why was this amazing shipping route built? Read this article to learn the reasons.
Why was the Panama Canal built?
The main reason that the Panama Canal was built was make trading between the countries in the Atlantic Ocean and those in the Pacific Ocean easier and safer. By constructing a canal through the Isthmus of Panama it ensured a shorter, faster and safer route for the ships. With the Panama Canal complete, ships were able to avoid travelling around Cape Horn (the southernmost tip of South America). This was a dangerous journey as the strong winds and currents combined in this area causing many ships to become lost or shipwrecked. Another route commonly used was the Strait of Magellan which cuts through the country of Chile. Despite the fact that this route was safer, it significantly slowed ships down as the passage is difficult to navigate. The Panama Canal also allowed for the countries along the west coast of the America and the pacific islands to be more active in trade and become more integrated into the world economy.
Did you know?
The Panama Canal now sees a steady stream of ships, some much bigger than the originally designers could even envision. The largest ship to travel the Panama Canal is the Panamax. A title assigned to ships that reach the maximum limits of the Canal. A Panamax ship is 33.53 m (110 ft) wide by 320.04 m (1,050 ft) long, and 12.56 m (41.2 ft) deep. This coincides with the width, length and depth of the locks in the Panama Canal. New construction is underway, and is scheduled for completion in 2014, to allow even larger ships to traverse the Canal.