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Panama Canal Facts

Panama Canal Facts
The Panama Canal connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It is a 48 mile canal that is important for international maritime trade. Construction of the canal began in 1881by France, but there were engineering problems and too many people were dying due to disease. Construction stopped until the US took over in 1904. They took 10 years to complete the canal. The canal allowed ships to travel between the two oceans more safely and in half the time. In 1999 the Panamanian government took control of the canal. The Panama Canal is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Interesting Panama Canal Facts:
The territory where the Panama Canal is located was originally Columbian, then French, then American, and eventually Panamanian.
Since the canal was first completed in 1914, the annual ship traffic has increased from 1,000 to 14,702 in 2008. In total more than 815,000 ships have passed through the canal (as of 2008).
The first person to envision the canal was Vasco Nunez de Balboa, who was the first European to reach the Pacific in the 16th century.
Many prospectors in the mid-1800s used this route during the California gold rush. Because the canal did not yet exist they sailed the Atlantic to Panama, crossed the isthmus either on foot, mules or boat, and then took another ship to California.
Columbia first granted the right to build the canal to A French adventurer in 1878 named Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse.
The French adventurer sold the rights to a French company who had also built the Suez Canal. The company eventually went bankrupt.
When the U.S. gained control of the canal project they decided to build a canal with locks. The French had only planned on building a sea-level canal. Locks are like water-filled chambers that can be raised and lowered to move ships from one level to the next.
There was approximately about 30,000,000lbs of explosives used to help clear the way for the canal.
It cost about $400 million U.S. to build and ten years.
The diseases the workers had to fight odd included malaria and yellow fever. They also had to cut through jungles, swamps, and all the creatures found within, including rats that carries the bubonic plague. Approximately 5,600 people died during the U.S. construction.
The canal is 48 miles (77.1km) long. If a ship had to travel down and around the southern tip of South America they would have to travel 20,000km.
The locks are 110 feet wide and 1050 feet long. Ships that are wider or longer than this cannot use the Panama Canal.
It takes between 8 and 10 hours to pass through the Panama Canal which is less than half of what it would take if they had to travel down and around the southern tip of South America. If a ship arrives without a reservation it can take several days to get through.
A dam was built to help provide water for the canal in the 1930s called the Madden Dam.
To cross the canal a toll must be paid. This toll is based on the ship's cargo space. If it is a military ship the toll is based on the weight.
During construction there were times when more than 43,000 people were working on the canal.
A landslide closed the canal in 1915 for several months.
One of the highest tolls paid was by the Crown Princess. This ship is a passenger superliner and they had to pay $144,344.91 U.S.
The smallest toll was paid by Richard Halliburton in 1928. He paid $0.36 to swim the canal.
The Panama Canal may have to undergo significant changes in the near future to accommodate the ships that are being built today. The ships today are much larger and some will not be able to fit through the canal.

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