Panama Canal

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The Panama Canal, is a lock canal owned and managed by the Republic of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the narrow Isthmus of Panama. The Panama Canal is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from coast to coast, and about 50 miles (82 kilometers) from the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean (more specifically the Caribbean Sea) to the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. This work of the canal finished in August 1914 and is one among the two most economically important human manufactured canals in the world, the other being the Suez Canal. Ships sailing between the east and west coasts of the United States would have to bypass Cape Horn in South America, shortening navigation by approximately 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 kilometers) using the canal. You can also save up to 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 kilometers) on travel from the North American coast to a port on the other side of South America. Using this channel, ships sailing between Europe and East Asia or Australia can save up to 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometers).

From its opening in 1914 to 1979, the Panama Canal was completely controlled by the United States who built it. However, in 1979, control of the canal was transferred to the Panama Canal Commission, a joint agency of the United States and the Republic of Panama, and full control was transferred to Panama at noon on December 31, 1999. The Panama Canal Authority (in Spanish: Panama Canal Authority [ACP]) is only responsible to the Panamanian government.

What is Panama Canal?

 Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Isthmus of Panama
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The Panama Canal is a human manufactured waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Isthmus of Panama. It is owned and managed by Panama and is 40 miles long from coast to coast. Ships can cross from any direction, and it takes about 10 hours to go from side to side. Ships from any country receive the same treatment in terms of tolls.

Why is Panama Canal so Important?

Before the construction of the Panama Canal, ships traveling between the east and west coasts of the American continent had to bypass Cape Horn in South America, which is 8,000 nautical miles longer than crossing the canal.  When crossing the canal, all journeys between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were shortened by thousands of nautical miles.

How Panama was made?

The Panama Canal was created by building a dam on the Chagris River to create Gatun Lake and Madden Lake, cutting Gatun from the river between the two lakes and the continental boundary, and cutting it into the Atlantic and Gatun A lock was built between the lake to lift the boat to the end of the lake and Gaillard. Another set of locks cut the ship’s position and opened a passage to the Pacific Ocean.

Who built the Panama Canal?

A French company led by Ferdinand, Lescounteps, began construction of the canal in 1881 but failed in 1889. Theodore Roosevelt negotiated the Sea-Bunau-Valila Treaty, which gave the United States control of the Canal Zone. The project began operating in 1904 under the supervision of the United States and was completed in 1914. Thousands of people participated in the project, most of them workers from Barbados, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

Physical Features

The Canal

The Panama Canal is located at 9 degrees north latitude, and the continental boundary of North America descends to one of its lowest points. As is generally believed, the canal does not cross the isthmus from east to west. It extends south from the entrance of Calón into the Atlantic Ocean, through the Gatún Locks, to a point at the widest point of Gatún Lake. It then turns sharply east, generally along the southeastern direction, until it reaches the Bay of Panama on the Pacific side. Its terminal near Balboa is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of its terminal near Colón. Parallel to the canal is the Panama Canal Railroad and the Boyd Roosevelt Highway.

 From the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the ship entered the Limón Bay approach channel, which runs to Gatoun Lock for approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers). . At Gatun, a series of three locks lifted a 26-meter (85-foot) boat into Gatun Lake. The lake is made by the Gatún Dam on the Chagres River, complemented by the waters of Lake Alajuela (Lake Madden; formed by the Madden Dam), covering an area of ​​166 square miles (430 square kilometers). The depth of the channel that runs through the lake ranges from 46 to 85 feet (14 to 26 meters) and extends to Gampoa for about 23 miles (37 kilometers). Gaillard (Culebra) cuts off Gamboa and passes through the Continental Divide. The average depth of the channel through the cut slot is approximately 43 feet (13 meters) and extends to the Pedro Miguel Lock for approximately 8 miles (13 km). The lock locks lower ships 30 feet (9 meters) above sea level to Lake Miraflores, which is 52 feet (16 meters) above sea level. The ship then traversed a waterway approximately 2 kilometers long to reach the two-level locks at Miraflores, and then lowered the locks to sea level. The last section of the canal is the access gate pass, which is 7 miles long and crosses the pass into the Pacific Ocean. The minimum width of the canal bottom over its entire length is 500 feet (150 meters). At Gatun Lake, the width of the channel is measured between 500 and 1,000 feet (150 to 300 meters), and at Miraflores Lake, the width is around 740 feet (225 meters).


The gates of the canal are operated by the gravity of the waters of Lake Gattern, Alajuela, and Miraflores, which are irrigated by the Chagris River and other rivers. The locks are uniform in length, width, and depth, and are constructed in pairs to allow ships to pass in any direction at the same time. Each gate has two leaves, 20 meters (65 feet) wide and 2 meters (6.5 feet) thick, mounted on hinges. The height of the door varies from 46 to 82 feet (14 to 25 meters); its movement is driven by an electric motor embedded in the lock wall. They are operated by a control tower, which is located on the wall separating each pair of locks and can also control the overflow or emptying of the lock chamber. The lock hall is 300 meters long, 33 meters wide, and 12 meters deep.

Due to the delicate nature of the original locking mechanism, only small boats can helplessly get through the lock. The larger ships are guided by electric traction locomotives that move on sprockets on the lock wall and are used to keep the ship centered in the lock. Before entering the lock, it must be passed through the fender chain that runs between the access walls. If everything is normal, the chain will fall into the groove at the bottom of the channel. If the boat is moving too fast for safety reasons, the chain will remain taut and the boat will travel against it. The chain operated by the hydraulic machinery on the wall will then be slowly unhooked by automatic release until the ship comes to a stop. If the boat moves away from the towing locomotive, breaks the chain, and hits the first door, the second door 50 feet (15 meters) away will be locked and prevented from moving forward. The lock project commenced in 2007 and ideas was utilized from the Berendrecht lock in Antwerp, Belgium, and the water-saving basin utilised in the German canals. Approximately 190,000 tons of steel (mainly from Mexico) were wrapped in strong reinforced concrete, and lock chambers were built on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific. The new gate was 33 feet (10 meters) wide and 98 feet (30 meters) high. . 58 meters high. The new cabins and pools will control the flow of water from Gatun Lake, aiming to minimize the turbulence of the current and the disturbance of ships in transit. These basins were completed in June 2016 and include 158 valves, including 20,000 tons of structural materials. Officials say that these water-saving basins are the largest in the world and promote 60% water reuse. Existing locks use 52 million gallons (197 million liters) at a time, while new locks use 48 million gallons (182 million liters).


Long breakwaters have been built near the access channels of the two oceans. The breakwater extends from the west and east sides of Limón Bay. The west bank breakwater can protect the port from strong winds, and the east bank breakwater can reduce sedimentation from the channel pass. On the Pacific side, a causeway runs from Balboa to three small islands (Naos, Perico, and Flamenco) and diverts the cross-flow of soft material from the shallow-water port of Panama City into the canal.



The ship is passed through the canal by one or more pilots, who board the ship before each ship leaves the terminal. In the case of waiting time, the boat can take about 25 hours to cross the channel. The average sailing time from one end of the ship to the other is approximately one hour (approximately 10 hours). If you don’t dig a hole in Gagelard (Culebra), the canal usually goes in two directions. Although a large amount of water is inevitably lost in each transport, the heavy rains in Panama make the operation still feasible. To save water, if size allows, pass two or more containers moving in the same direction together. The meter also contacts each ship to verify its cargo capacity and collect tolls. Check manifests, ship documents, and other documents. Use an automated maritime traffic control system to dispatch and control transit at various points along the route.


Continuous maintenance work is required on the canal and its related facilities to keep it working in a tropical climate. This includes dredging the canal, arranging lock inspections, and repairing and replacing machinery. Due to heavy rain and unstable soil, landslides in the hills adjacent to Gaillard Cut have been an intermittent problem since the construction of the canal. Preventive and corrective measures are often taken to keep the canal unblocked, and a plan is designed to stabilize its banks to eliminate rainwater that might damage its slopes. There have been two major landslides since 1970, the first in 1974 and the second in 1986. In both cases, one-way traffic must be temporarily implemented in the affected area. Another serious problem threatening the canal is the increase in the sedimentation rate of the rivers and streams in the basin, and ultimately the canal itself. This degradation is caused by slash-and-burn agricultural techniques practiced by local immigrant farmers. Although the watershed of the canal was still completely covered by forest in the early 1950s, by the late 1970s, the watershed of the canal had decreased by nearly 70%. The governments of the United States and Panama have taken measures to control soil erosion.


Traffic through the Panama Canal is a barometer of world trade, increasing during periods of global economic prosperity and decreasing during periods of economic recession. From the lowest point of 807 crossing points in 1916 to the highest point of several crossing points in 1970, that is 15,523. That year, the canal carried more than 132.5 million long tons (134.6 million long tons) of cargo. Although the number of crossings each year has decreased since then, as the average size of ships has increased, the canal carries more cargo than ever before. In 2013, nearly 210 million tons (213 million metric tons) of cargo passed through the canal. The main trade routes served by the Panama Canal are located between the following two points: the east coast of the continental United States and Hawaii and East Asia; the east coast of the United States and the west coast of South America; the west coast of Europe and North America; the west coast of Europe and South America; the east coast; the east coast of the United States;

Trade between the East Coast of the United States and East Asia dominates international channel transportation. The main product categories transported through the canal include motor vehicles, petroleum products, grains, coal, and coke. The main trade routes served by the Panama Canal are located between the following two points: the east coast of the continental United States and Hawaii and East Asia; the east coast of the United States and the west coast of South America; the west coast of Europe and North America; the west coast of Europe and South America; the east coast; the east coast of the United States;

 Trade between the East Coast of the United States and East Asia dominates international channel transportation. The main product categories transported through the canal include motor vehicles, petroleum products, grains, coal, and coke.

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