A Modern Engineering Marvel & Probably The World’s Most Efficient Shortcut
Panama. Hat & canal. July 1, 2013
The Panama Canal is an 80 kilometre-long ship canal cutting across the Isthmus of Panama in Panama, Central America. It connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean & apart from it being a key conduit for international maritime trade, the Panama Canal is also one of modern engineering’s great feats & probably the world’s most efficient albeit expensive shortcut. I’ve been looking forward to visiting the canal for as long as I’ve been in the Central American region and the fact that I did my Central American odyssey going in a north to south direction meant I had to wait until today, my last full day in the region, to do so. But that’s OK because the canal was worth the wait.
I arrived at the Miraflores Locks – which offers the closest official visitor access to the canal from Panama City, about 12 kilometres away – before the lock’s visitor centre opened. So I took a walk eventually ending up on the banks of the canal about 2 kilometres from where I should have been, outside the then closed door of the aforementioned visitors centre. I was eventually apprehended and escorted back to the centre but not before I got some pictures, including the following picture showing three boats in a sort of (slow) Panama Canal convoy heading for the Miraflores Locks.
Panama Canal || History
The French were the first to attempt to build the a canal here. They threw their beret at it in 1889 mainly due to construction hardships, hardships which attributed to the deaths of some 22,000 men mostly from yellow fever & malaria. The Americans then seized an opportunity, took up the baton & had the job done in a decade; the first boat passed through the canal on August 15, 1914. The Americans owned & managed the canal right up until December 31, 1999, when control was passed to the Panamanians. Initial fears that the locals couldn’t run the canal as efficiently or as profitable as the Americans have proved ill-founded & today the canal is being expanded, with the US$5 billion expansion project expected to be completed in 2014. This expansion will allow the canal to accommodate vessels of up to 12,000 containers, compared to today’s limit of 4,500 containers.
Video || Miraflores Locks of The Panama Canal
Video captured video from the 4th floor observation deck of the Miraflores Lock Visitor Centre.