Panama Canal

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The canal is joining the atlantic and pacific oceans. It runs from
Cristobal on lemon bay, a part of the Caribbean sea, to Balboa, on the
Gulf of Panama. The canal is slightly more than 64 km long, not including
the dredged approach channels at either end. The minimum depth is 12.5 m,
and the minimum width is 91.5 m. The construction of the canal ranks as
one of the greatest engineering works of all time.

In history people had interest in a shorter route from the Atlantic to
Pacific. This began with the explorers of Central America early in the 16th
century. Hernan Cortez was a spanish conqeror of mexico who suggested
a canal across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Other explorers had favored
routes through Nicaragua and Darien. The 1 st for a canal through the
Panama was started by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Who in 1523
ordered a survey of the isthmus. A working plan for the canal was drawn
up as early as 1529, but was shown to the king. In 1534 a spanish offical
suggested a canal route close to that of the present canal. Later more of the
canal plans were suggested but no action was taken upon any of these plans
Later on there is more in the canal. The Spanish goverment
abandoned its interest in the canal but in the early 19 th century the books
of the Germam scientist Alexander von Humboldt brang back the interest
in the project of the canal, and in 1819the Spanish goverment formally
athorized the construction of a canal and the creation of a company to
build it. Nothing came of this effort, however, and the revolt of the spanish
colonies soon took control of possible canal sites out of spanish hands .
The republics of Central America tried to interest groups in the United
States and Europe in building a canal, and it became a subject of perennial
debate in the congress of the United States. The discovery of gold in
California in 1848 and the rush of would-be miners started the United
States interest in digging the canal. Various surveys made between 1850
and 1875 indicated that only two routes were practical, the one across
Panama and that across Nicargua. In 1876 an international company was
organized. Two years later it obtained a consession from the Colombian
goverment. Panama was then part of Colombia to dig a canal across the
The United States involvement was the international company failed,
and in 1880 a French company was organized by Ferdinand Marie de
Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal. His company went bankrupt in 1889.

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United States interest in a Atlantic-Pacific canal however continued. In
1899 the United States congress created an Isthmian Canal comission to
examine the possibilities of a Central American canal and to recommend
a route. The commission 1 st decided on the Nicaragua route, but reversed
its decission in 1902 when the reorganization Lesseps company offered its
assets to the United States at the price of $ 40 million. The united States
goverment negotiated with the Colombian goverment to obtain a strip of
land 9.5 km wide across the isthmus, but the Colombian Senate refused to
ratify this consession. In 1903 , however , Panama revolted from Colombia.

That same year the United States and the new state of Panama signed the
Hay – Bunau – Varilla Treaty by which the United States guaranteed the
independance of Panama and secured a perpetual lease on a 16 – km strip
for the canal. Panama was to be compensated by an initial payment of
$ 10 million and an annuity of $ 250 , 000 , beginning in 1913 . The figure
was later revised upward in 1936 to $ 430 , 000 , and in 1955 to $ 2 million
per year.

The construction of the canal in 1905 the Isthmus Canal Commission
decided to build a canal with locks rather than a sea level channel , and this
plan was approved by the United States Congress the following year .
President Theodore Roosevelt put the construction work under the direction
of the United States Army Corps of Engineers . Colonel George W . Goethalls
was named to head the project .
It was estamated that the canal


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