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The Panama Canal in Panama City: Tours & History


Miraflores locks, Panama Canal, Panama, Central America, Latin America.
Gonzalo Azumendi/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The Panama Canal - Uniting the Oceans:

Panama travel is incomplete without visiting one of mankind's greatest accomplishments: the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal splits the Panama isthmus and unites the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, allowing ships to pass through.

Imagine: before the construction of the Panama Canal, a ship heading from California to New York would have to travel 14,000 miles, circumnavigating the entire continent of South America! Once the Panama Canal was completed, the same voyage took (and still takes) just 6,000 miles.

Panama Canal Tours:

Travelers can arrange guided visits to the Panama Canal from Panama City.

Panama Canal boat tours are also available. Boat tours of the Panama Canal generally pass through the Lake Gatun portion of the canal to fish, view wildlife or visit the Smithsonian research station on Barro Colorado Island. A number of cruise ships pass through the Panama Canal on their way from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Ocean. .

During your tour of the Panama Canal, make sure to stop by the Canal Administration Building in Panama City and view the colorful murals illustrating the Panama Canal's history.

Panama Canal History:

The Panama Canal was an enormous feat of engineering. Construction of a canal in Panama was first attempted by the French in the 1880s, but their efforts resulted in disaster – over 22,000 men died. The United States began their own attempt at the turn of the century, after assisting Panama in gaining independence from Colombia. Following years of backbreaking effort, landslides, disease and thousands more deaths, the Americans completed construction of the Panama Canal in 1914.

The United States handed over control of the Panama Canal to Panama in 1999, to the joy of many Panamanian citizens.

Panama Canal Facts:

The Panama Canal is 48 miles (77 km) long. It accommodates 14,000 ships a year on average, with over 200 million tons of cargo, representing five percent of the world's shipping.

It takes around nine hours for a ship to pass through the Panama Canal. This is known as "Canal Waters Time", and is a measure of the canal's efficiency.

The largest ships that can pass through the Panama Canal are called "Panamax" Because many modern ships surpass the parameters of Panamax, the Panama Canal is currently undergoing an exhaustive construction, known as the Panama Canal Expansion Project.

Map of the Panama Canal:

Visit the BBC's website to see a map of the Panama Canal.

Compare rates on flights to Panama City, Panama (PTY), or check rates on Panama City hotels

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