Panama Canal is a manmade water canal that connects Atlantic Ocean with Pacific Ocean. Read this article to know some amazing and interesting facts about this engineering wonder.

Facts About Panama Canal

Panama Canal, the 51-mile-long pathway intersecting the Isthmus of Panama and connecting Atlantic and Pacific oceans,is considered as an engineering wonder. This canal created a significant shortcut for ships, which otherwise, had to sail around the Cape Horn. Since the time of completion, it has been a key conduit for international maritime trade. The construction works commenced in 1880 and was completed in 1914, taking 34 years to complete. Until the construction of Panama Canal was completed, ships had to sail a long route surrounding Cape Horn in South America, navigating the dangerous waters of the Strait of Magellan. The construction of Panama Canal reduced this distance by half. This shorter, faster, safer route has benefitted the world economy in a great way. The territory originally belonged to Colombia, then France followed by America and finally, it was handed over to Panama government in 1999. Read further for more amazing and interesting facts about Panama Canal. 

Amazing And Interesting Facts About Panama Canal

  • Panama Canal is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.The American Society of Civil Engineers has heralded the Panama Canal as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
  • Panama Canal reduced the sailing distance between New York and San Francisco greatly. Till Panama Canal was built, ships from New York had to sail around the Cape Horn to reach San Francisco.
  • Did you know the construction of the locks and dams required more than four and a half million cubic yards of concrete? Well, it did!
  • The construction of Panama Canal was completed in two stages. The first part of construction happened between 1881 and 1888 under a French company headed by de Lessop while the second part was completed between 1904 and 1914. This time, it was carried out by the Americans.
  • More than 60,000,000 pounds of dynamite was required for the excavation works related to the construction of Panama Canal.
  • Gatun Lake, then the largest artificial lake of the world, was created by the construction of dam across the Chargers River in Gatun, as part of the Panama Canal construction.
  • Excavation in ‘Culebra Cut’ gave away tons of rock and soil, which was utilized for the construction of the shell of dam at Gatun.
  • There are 3 sets of water lock system in the Panama Canal - the Gatun Locks (on the Atlantic coast entrance), the Pedro Miguel Lock and Miraflores Lock (both on the Pacific coast entrance). Each chamber of the locks is 110 feet wide and 1,000 ft. long.
  • The locks of Panama Canal are built in pairs. This allows two ships to transit the Panama Canal simultaneously, either in the same or different directions.
  • The cargo ship Ancon was the first vessel to transit the canal on August 15, 1914.
  • The largest ships that can transit through the Panama Canal are called Panamax.
  • Every day, about 40 ships cross Panama Canal, which counts to 12,000 - 15,000 ships every year.
  • 29th February 1968 is marked as the day with greatest number of ships crossing the Panama Canal. 65 ships crossed Panama Canal that day.
  • The fastest transit through Panama Canal was made by the US Navy hydrofoil, Pegasus, in June 1979. The ship crossed the canal in 2 hours and 41 minutes.
  • The longest vessel to journey through Panama Canal is San Juan Prospector. The ship measured 751 ft. (229 m.) in length.
  • The Crown Princess ship holds the record for paying the highest toll for a transit through the Panama Canal until 1995. The vessel crossed the Panama Canal on 2nd May, 1993, paying US$141,349.97.
  • Richard Halliburton crossed the Panama Canal by swimming its entire length. He paid a toll of 36 cents, a sum according to his weight of 150 pounds, thus creating the record for paying the lowest toll.
  • Unites States tops the usage of Panama Canal, followed by China, Japan, Chile and North Korea.
  • 4 percent of the total world trade and 16 percent of total U.S trade is conducted through Panama Canal.
  • Construction of Panama Canal took nearly 20,000 French and 6,000 American lives; almost all of them were construction workers.   
  • In 1963, after the introduction of high mass fluorescent lighting, the Panama Canal started operating 24 hours.
  • The Panama Canal functions on a 24x7 basis round the year. It has been closed only twice in its history; first time was in 1915 due to a landslide and second time was on 20th December 1989, when the United States invaded Panama.
  • There are several islands located within the Lake Gatún portion of the Panama Canal. The most popular among these islands is the Barro Colorado Island, a world-famous wildlife sanctuary.

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