Panama Canal



PanamaCanal is one of the wonders of the world. It is a 48 miles canal thatconnects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean through theCaribbean Sea in panama. The canal is one of the most important manmade water way in the international trade. The idea of the PanamaCanal can be traced back to the earliest exploration in Americas.This is because of the narrow bridge that connected North America toSouth America and also separating the Atlantic Ocean and the PacificOcean. Due to the size of the bridge relative to the alternative searoute the construction of a canal was inevitable. For example, for aship to travel from San Francisco to New York, it had to cover atotal of twelve thousand miles through the tip of South America.However, there was a need for fast movement for the Atlantic Ocean tothe Pacific Ocean. The European colonists in the Americas recognizedthe potentials of building a canal to connect the Atlantic and thepacific. However, in the 19th century, due totechnological advancement, economic pressure and increased importanceof shorter transport channel, the construction of the canal started(Carse, 2014).

In1881, the French colonists in Central America started theconstruction of the canal. However, due to engineering challenges andinadequacies as well as outbreak of diseases among the excavationworkers, the project was stopped. However, due to the significance ofthe canal to the United States economy, the American government tookover the construction work in 1904. It took ten years to complete theproject which was opened in august 1914. After the completion of theproject, it went into the books of history as the biggest and mostcomplicated engineering work that had ever undertaken by humanbeings. It significantly reduced the rime taken by a ship to travelfrom the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean (Greene, 2009). The had huge impacts on the west coast of the United Statesand other Central American nations since they became more integratedin the world economy. There are several territorial changes that tookplace during the construction of the canal. Initially, the territorywas owned by the Colombian government, which was transferred to theFrench and then to the United States. Until 1977, when the canal washanded over to the Panama government through the Torrijos-CarterTreaties, the canal was controlled and managed by the United Statesgovernment. Since 1914, the number of ships passing through the has increased from about 1000 ships annually to morethan fourteen thousand ships per year (Parker, 2007).

The was the largest engineering project in the early 19thcentury. As a result, it was a relatively expensive project.According to 1900s estimates, the project cost the United Statesgovernment at last 23 million dollars. Fortification of the canal isestimated to have cost over 12 million dollars. At the end of theproject, it is estimated that at least 75 thousand workers worked inthe site with over 182 million cubic meters of material beingevacuated by the Americans. Since the French has done some the work,over 200 million cubic meters of material was excavated in the wholeproject. This was significantly high compared to the Channel Tunnelwhich was 25 times smaller than the . During theconstruction period of by the United States government,three presidents reigned in America. However, President TheodoreRoosevelt reign is considered to be the most important figure thatcontributed to the construction of the canal. Through his secretaryof state, William Howard Taft, President Theodore Roosevelt gave hispersonal impetus to the project. As a result, he is considered to bethe builder of the . However, President Woodrow Wilsonpresided over the opening ceremony in August 1914 (Greene, 2009).

The has had a huge impact on the economy of the UnitedStates and Central America. It is therefore considered to be one ofthe most important resources in the United States economy. Asignificant amount of export and import from and to the United Statespass through the . It is estimated that one out of tenships into or from the United Stated goes through the canal. Sinceexports and imports are critical aspects of the United Stateseconomy, there are many economic benefits accrued from the canal.Through imports, the consumers in the United States are able toobtain goods that are not produced locally. On the other hand,exports creates job in the United States since it increases thedemand for locally produced good (Maurer &amp Yu, 2006).

Theability of the to connect the Pacific Ocean to theAtlantic Ocean has a lot of impact on the United States economy. Thecanal provides the most cost effective transport channel by reducingthe shipping distance by five thousand miles. This has a huge impacton the cost of imported and exported good. For example, the Asianmarket, especially china is one of the most important markets in themodern American economy. Through the , exporter andimporters have an access to these markets. Although the advancementin rail transport has made it easier and more cost effective totransport from the western coast to eastern coast, 20 percent ofexports and imports between east coast and China goes through PanamaCanal. The does not only have an impact on the UnitedStates economy but also contributes to the economy of other nations.Therefore, the canal impacts on the global economy in several ways(Carse, 2014). For example, the canal is an important transit routeconnecting European economies to the Central America economies suchas Peru.

Havingoperated for a century, the has continued to enjoyedsignificant success. Although there are many changes in the shippingand transport industry, it remains one f the vital transportinfrastructure in the world. However, there are concerns that havebeen raised some of which have been prompted by technologicaldevelopment. One of the most important concerns has been maintenanceand the efficiency of the canal in the future. This concern emergedafter the United States handed over the management of the canal tothe Panama government. These concerns are associated with the 17hours closer in December 2010 as a result of rain. Current changes inthe shipping industry such as larger vessels as well as increasevolumes of transit goods have also had an impact on the capacity ofthe canal. This has prompted expansion projects as well asmodernization of the systems (Carse, 2014).


Greene,Julie. The Canal Builders: Making America`s Empire at the PanamaCanal. New York: The Penguin Press, (2009).

Maurer,Noel. &amp Yu, Carlos. What Roosevelt Took: The Economic Impactof the , 1903-29, HBS Working Paper Number: 06-041.(2006).

Parker,Matthew. Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the GreatestHuman Achievements of All Time-The Building of the .New York: Doubleday. (2007).

Carse,Ashley. Beyond the big ditch : politics, ecology, and infrastructureat the , Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, (2014).