There is much information about the Panama Canal. This canal is the result of the hard work and sacrifice of the life of many people.
It is 1903, a rainy day on a canal under construction. In a country where it rains 80 percent time of the year. While working on such a wet rocky mountain, a worker slept.
He appeared at the door of death. Between then and 1914, another 5,600 people died from accidents, malaria, and cholera.
The figure of 5,600 people in the government accounts may be higher. This amount of life helped to make an 80 km-long artificial waterway.
Information About The Panama Canal
It connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and is a wonder! But how does this nineteenth-century establishment keep pace with twenty-first-century changes?
Let’s know a little about it. The United States saw the success of the French in the Suez Canal project in 1869.
It began to think of an alternative waterway to bridge the distance between other continents. These continents are North America and Europe, Asia, and South America.
The main aim of digging the canal is to reduce travel time. People had to cross the entire coast of South America to reach Europe to the west coast of North America.
It is the same travel time from Asia to the south of North America. It would have taken more than 14 days to reach the destination.
And they had to cross another twelve and a half thousand kilometers of the waterway. Panama and its neighboring country Nicaragua took benefit of this waterway.
Both of these countries could reduce this extra distance. It was the distance for ships plying the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
But there were effects of the many active volcanoes in Nicaragua. The French became unsuccessful in digging a canal during that time in Panama.
These were the main reasons American engineers started work in this country of North America.
In 1903, then-American President Roosevelt bought the under-construction canal project. He bought it from the French for about 40 million US dollars.
Thus began the digging of the magnificent canal for more than a century. But in 1903, this North American country was a part of Colombia.
The United States wanted to sign the Hay-Herran Treaty with Columbia. It would establish American rights to the project and adjacent areas.
But the small region was also trying to gain independence from Colombia. It was then that Panama gained bloodless independence from Colombia.
They had done it with the direct help of the United States. And the Americans gained complete control of the canal in return.
Later, in 1977, America signed the Torrijos-Carter Treaties. It returned the responsibility of the canal to Panama in 1999 through this agreement.
In the 18th century, the French built the Suez Canal connecting Asia and Europe. This canal started from Port Said on the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
But the French began the Panama Canal project before the Americans. But there is a big difference between Panama and Egypt.
The land is different from each other in geographical features. That is why it was a big mistake of the French engineers to design the Panama Canal on the model of the Suez Canal.
Americans realized that the process of building a canal was complex in Panama. The mountainous nature of Panama would be challenging.
So the successful construction at that time was of great importance and glory. It was a sign of emerging American hegemony in the world.
The construction of the magnificent waterway required more money. The money was more than the American administration budgeted to complete the project.
Now we will talk about the main obstacles to the construction. At the beginning of the article, we mentioned the death risk of construction workers.
In the rainy and humid climate, the landslide-expensive construction style was present. It discouraged French engineers from the start.
According to the geographical design, its location is in the mountainous region. As a result, if the cutting of the mountains was necessary.
It was also necessary that the water level of the canal should be equal to the sea. Because water always flows from high places to low places.
Thus, if the canal is high, there will be no water in it, and the ship will not be able to move. That is why the French decided to cut the mountains at once and make plains.
The surrounding topography and rainfall in the areas are in a dangerous position. The surrounding soil would collapse from the hills if they dug.
And the canal would have become full of soil. In that case, it had to dig again. After only a few years of construction, the French found such major design flaws.
They sold the project to the Americans for this reason. But America did not cut mountains and create plains. It devised ways to lift ships through mountains.
It required the construction of another major project. The name of the project is Gatun Lake. Once upon a time, it was the largest artificial lake on the planet.
So Americans did a great design of the canal. Ships first enter a series of enclosed bodies of water in this design. These closed bodies of water are called locks.
American engineers lifted ships 26 meters above sea level up to Gatun lake through this. And after passing through this lake, the vessels went down into the sea after crossing some locks.
A ship from the Atlantic enters the Pacific through this magnificent waterway. It must first pass through three locks of the canal. These locks have two doors on either side.
And the floor has a controlled water flow from the upper side lock to the lower. When a ship approaches the seaward side of the first lock, water from the second lock fills the first lock.
Then the water in the first lock and the sea water level reach an equal level. Then, when the ship enters the first lock, authority opens the seaward door.
Then more water from the second lock comes into the first lock. Thus the water in the first and second locks reaches the same height, and the ship floats up to the water level of the canal lock.
Then the canal authority opens the second lock door, and the ship enters it. The vessel reaches the 26-meter high of Gatun Lake in this way.
At the time of construction, the distance between the two doors of each lock was about 320 meters. The width of these locks was 33.53 meters.
The locks can hold about 26.7 million gallons of water and take about 8 to 10 minutes to fill. As mentioned earlier, the height of Gatun Lake is 26 meters above sea level.
The Chagres River is one of the sources of water for this valuable waterway. Americans created a lake in two dams on this river.
Ships have to cross a distance of about 33 km here to reach the Pedro Miguel Lock towards the Pacific Ocean.
Americans excavated 7.2 billion cubic feet of rock during the creation of this lake. It was about three times the volume of Suez.
They dumped it in the coastal areas, where many army camps are now visible. It is one of the valuable facts about the Panama Canal.
It takes about 8-10 hours for a ship to enter the Pacific Ocean through this waterway from the Atlantic. Ships pay high tolls To cross such a long and mechanized waterway.
Many believe the toll rate of this waterway is the highest compared to all others in the world. That is why it is famous as the most expensive waterway.
More than 14,000 ships pass through this 80-meter-long waterway of North America every year.
But this 19th-century canal has had to undergo several changes to keep it usable and competitive. It usually faces many new challenges in the 21st century.
The challenge has a relation to the lock system of this magnificent waterway. If the ship is bigger than the size of the locks, it cannot enter through the Panama Canal.
But, shipowners will incur losses if the capacity of the vessels is not large enough. That is why the canal authorities changed these locks and made them big in 2016.
Now, if a ship wants to enter Panama, it can be 366 meters long and 51 meters wide. Another major problem in Panama is that ships remain floated with excess water.
As a result, a problem becomes visible if the weight of the ships becomes too much. Even if the authority gives water according to capacity, the vessel will not float up to the desired height.
For this reason, in 2016, the depth of the locks also increased. Earlier max weight of ships operating was 5,000 TEU. Now the max weight has become 15,000 TEU.
And this expansion of the Panama Canal leads companies to build ships on a large scale. These are famous as Neo Panamax ships.
But the expansion of this waterway of North America has a butterfly effect. Because the capacity is high, large ships will pass through here.
There is much interesting information about the Panama Canal to know. This canal brought a revolutionary change in the trade with the American continents.
This magnificent canal is a waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It allows efficient and cost-effective shipping and trade.
The impact of this canal on global trade and commerce has been significant. It remains a vital link in the world supply chain to this day.