Thursday, 16 May 2013


The history of the Panama Canal goes back to 16th century. After realizing the riches of Peru, Ecuador, and Asia, and upon counting the time it took the gold to reach the ports of Spain, it was suggested that by cutting out a piece of land somewhere in Panama.

The trips would be made shorter and the risk of taking the treasures through the isthmus would justify such an enterprise.

Constructions started in 1881

A survey of the isthmus was ordered and subsequently a working plan for a canal was drawn up in 1529. The wars in Europe and the thirsts for the control of kingdoms in the Mediterranean Sea simply put the project on permanent hold.

The ships for which the canal was designed are now long gone. Modern shipping has increased the size of ships. The increase in the tonnage in which can be carried has thus caused problems for the canal. The canal can only accommodate ships carrying up to 65,000 tons of cargo, but recently ships which are able to carry 500,000 tons have been introduced.

The problem of the ever-increasing size in ships has caused discussion into the construction of a new canal joining the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. There have been discussions on three alternative routes for a new canal, through; Columbia, Mexico and Nicaragua. The Columbian and Mexican routes would allow for the construction of a sea level canal, whereas the Nicaraguan route would require a lock system.

Despite the limit in ship size, the canal is still one of the most highly travelled waterways in the world, handling over 12,000 ships per year. The 51-mile crossing takes about nine hours to complete, an immense time saving when compared with rounding the tip of South America.

More to follow


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