10 Interesting Facts About The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is seen as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century and completing it took a lot of years, money and effort from the workers. The 48 mile waterway in Panama that connects two oceans changed trade forever and remains an important route for oil tankers, cruise ships and other giant Panama Canalships. Here are ten interesting facts about the Panama Canal:

  • The United States started working on the canal in 1904 and completed it ten years later. But it was France who began the project in 1881. They left the project due to engineering problems and because many workers had lost their lives during construction of the canal.
  • The Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914 and close to one million vessels have passed through the canal since.
  • It takes ships around eight to ten hours to pass through the 48 mile canal.
  • France was the first country to attempt construction but mentions of a canal that would be used for world trade date back to 1534. Construction began more than 300 years later and was stopped shortly after.
  • There were many problems during construction, including the rainy season. The dense jungle filled with dangerous animals was also a huge problem for the workers. Nothing was as bad as the yellow fever, which made it difficult for the country to convince workers to help in the project.
  • The United States spent nearly $375,000,000 on the Panama Canal. With inflation, that number today is almost $8,600,000,000.
  • The Panama Canal has tolls and they are calculated depending on the type, size and cargo of the ship. The lowest toll was registered in 1928 by a person who swam across. The most expensive toll was set by a cruise ship, which was charged $375,600 in 2010.
  • The money from the toll may seem like a lot but ships save weeks of traveling and even more money when they take this route.
  • 17,500 ships pass through the canal every year.
  • It is estimated that over 80,000 people helped in the construction of the Panama Canal.