The Panama Canal is a
canal) in the
Central America, that connects the
Atlantic Ocean and the
Pacific Ocean. Because of the way Panama twists, the entrance to the Pacific Ocean is farther
east than the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. This is the
opposite of what one would expect.
The Panama Canal is 77
km (48 miles) long and cuts across the
Isthmus of Panama. At each end it uses three pairs of
locks for lifting and lowering
ships on different
water levels. This saves ships 15,000 km (10,000 miles) compared to going around
South America. Each year, about 14,000 ships come through the canal. By 2002, around 800,000 ships came through.
The old locks are 110 ft (33.53 m) wide by 1,050 ft (320 m) long, with a usable length of 1,000 ft (305 m). The biggest
ships that can go through the Panama Canal are called Panamax. New locks opened in 2016 to allow ships more than twice as big, called New Panamax. They are 55 m (180 ft) wide by 427 m (1,400 ft) long, and 18.3 m (60.0 ft) deep.
Ferdinand de Lesseps tried building a Panama Canal in 1880, but couldn't finish it. The project was started again in 1904 by the
United States, under the presidency of
Theodore Roosevelt, who spent ten years and 375 million
dollars building it. The Panama Canal was finally finished in 1914, but at the cost of approximately 25,000 lives.