Panama Canal – The banana highway in the sea!

The Panama Canal is an artificial waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This 82 Km long canal divides North and South America.  The canal crosses the Isthmus of Panama and is an oceanic trade canal. Read more about infrastructure here.

The Need

It is one of the most difficult and biggest tasks which reduce the time of the ships to travel between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. Previously, these ships had to take a very long and dangerous route from Cape Horn through the southernmost tip of South America. But the building of the Panama Canal allowed the ships to be away from the dangerous Cape Horn. The path around the southernmost tip of South America via the Dark Passage or Strait of Magellan.      

tugboat one ship locks Panama Canal

French engineering?

When the Panama Canal was built at that time Colombia, France, and later the USA managed the surrounding territory. France started paintings at the canal in 1881 though it has to stop as the investors are at loss. After them, The United States took the responsibilities on May 4, 1904, and opened the canal on August 15, 1914.

Till 1977 the US endured to administer the canal but due to Torrijos-Carter Treaties, it was handover to Panama. After a long period of joint US-Panamanian control, in 1999, the Panamanian government has control of the canal, and now it is taken care of by the Panama Canal Authority.      


At the time when the canal was open in 1914the annual traffic was 1,000 ships which rise to 14,702 vessels in 2008. In 2012, more than 815,000 ships crossed the canal. In 2017 the average time to cross the two locks of the canals is 11.38 hours. The American Society of Civil Engineers has classified the Panama Canal as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Panama Canal Authority

On December 31, 1999, the Panama Canal Authority has taken the management of the canal from the U.S. Panamanian Canal Commission. The Panama Canal Authority has taken the management of the Canal from the United States. It is created because of the modification in the Constitution of Panama an autonomous agency of the Panamanian government its responsibilities to the administration, operation, conservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Panama Canal. 

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The Panama Canal Authority also maintains and preserves water resources throughout the Panama Canal watershed. This watershed is essential because it supplies water to cities at either end of the canal route. The Authority is made up of a board of directors having 11 members.  The chairman of the Authority is selected by the president of the republic. The legislative branch of government entitles you to a director and the rest of the members are appointed by the president along with the other cabinet councils.


The Panama Canal is one of the most important and busiest waterways in the world which have huge traffic every day. The canal has decreased the average travel times. It was maintained by the Panama Canal Authority. Apart from having the world’s busiest waterways, it is also a watershed that provides water to all the nearby areas. Thank you for reading till the end and do read more of my articles.

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