El Panama Canal It is an interoceanic waterway that crosses the entire American continent at the height of Panama. Thanks to this channel, the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean can be connected to the Pacific Ocean. It is a route that has great economic importance for humans.
Therefore, we are going to dedicate this article to tell you all the characteristics, economic importance and history of the Panama Canal.
It is a route that crosses the isthmus of Panama in its narrowest part. Through a system of locks at each end they raise the boats up to 26 meters above sea level and lead them to Gatun Lake. These ends fill with water and form an artificial lake that then descends on the other side to drastically shorten the times of navigation and maritime communication.
Before the opening of these channels, ships had to descend to the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn. These two areas are the southernmost part of the South American continent to be able to cross from one ocean to another. The construction of the Panama Canal is one of the great works of world engineering of the entire XNUMXth century.
Panama Canal History
Let's briefly summarize the history of this channel. The isthmus of Panama was already used by the pre-Columbian aborigines to be able to transit between one ocean and another. All this knowledge was transferred to the Spanish during the conquest. So much so that King Charles I in the year 1524 proposed the creation of a channel that will provide the times for travel between Peru and Spain. But the technological and financial situation of Europe did not allow it for that moment.
During the XNUMXth century, the idea of building a canal at sea level in Nicaragua arose, but this entire construction process had to stop for political reasons. Today, this idea has been revived. It was the famous German naturalist across the Panamanian isthmus who laid the theoretical foundations for the excavation of the canal and whose project was introduced by Ferdinand de Lesseps ten years later. This man was a French businessman and engineer.
The dimensions of this channel that connects the ports of Balboa and Cristóbal are 77 kilometers long. The lock is about 39 feet high and 110 feet long. They hold about 106 feet of water. Crossing the entire canal usually takes about 8 hours. This gives us the idea of how long it is.
Panama canal construction projects
There are several construction projects for this canal since they opened in 1914. The project was transferred to a French company at the time of the government of the then Republic of New Granada in 1839. However, it was known that the construction of this canal had great difficulties of labor, government, etc. As a result, the French company lost interest and withdrew from the concession shortly thereafter. In 1879 it was the French Ferdinand de Lesseps who took up the entire project after completing the Suez Canal in Egypt. He already had more experience and wanted to apply it in the Panama Canal.
In such a way that the works began in 1881 amid all the yellow fever epidemics, the challenges posed by the terrain itself and the discovery of corporate corruption that is known today as the Panama Scandal. The works stopped the following year because a strong earthquake shook the entire isthmus. Project financing ceased in 1888 and it was completely abandoned. It is then that the Americans intervened to resume the project of the twentieth century and according to the Panamanian government it opened the doors of the canal in 1914.
The maximum point of functionality reached in 1963. In 2006, a project to expand the Panama Canal was finally announced. through new locks to have a much larger space for maritime traffic. This decision has been submitted to a popular referendum and was approved by the majority of the voting population. The works began the following year, and have culminated in 2016 in June due to a series of delays and financial crisis.
Management, administration and economic importance
Currently the Panama Canal is under Panamanian administration. This administration was ceded in perpetuity to the United States once the canal was built. This pressure was quite controversial since the next governments litigated or recovered the sovereignty of the canal. They also tried recover the strip of 8 kilometers around it that had also been transferred.
At present, it is under the administration of Panama and some negotiations have been carried out regarding the transfer of control of the canal to the local authorities. This channel has been important in commercial navigation around the world. And it is that many banks were built with the Panamax designation, which meant that they had maximum dimensions that were adequate to be able to transit the length and width of the canal without any problem. They were boats as a commercial objective that had to pass through this channel and had adapted their design to the dimensions so as not to cause problems.
Regarding the importance, it must be taken into account that it is a great source of work and national income. The opening of the canal allowed a faster and broader flow of commercial maritime exchange. All this had a very positive impact on the economies of the world allowing a greater leveling off between developed nations and those that are still developing.
It also meant an important source of work with national income and some inputs for the region and especially for the people of Panama.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about the Panama Canal, its characteristics and its economic importance.