The Panama Canal: Experience This Historic Waterway

The Panama Canal has a rich and deep history within both the United States and the International Community.


The Canal stretches over 48 miles and serves as a passage for ships sailing between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean.  This famous waterway, however, does not seem to be the top choice for travelers.  Perhaps the Panama Canal receives less attention in the globetrotting community because the surrounding area is deemed dangerous.  Maybe future travelers do not view this waterway as exotic or exceptionally interesting.  Regardless, the Panama Canal is an engineering masterpiece and provides a beautiful environment for travelers to directly connect to different worlds.  Listed below are a few fun facts about the history of the Canal as well as some travel methods available for those who are open for the adventure.

panama canal

1.  The History:

In the 1800s, Columbia did not allow the United States to construct a canal through the Isthmus of Panama so the U.S. helped to stage a revolution in which Panama gained independence as a country.  A subsequent treaty was constructed which allowed the U.S. to build a Canal and by 1904 construction had begun.  However, disputes over the US territory in the Canal Zone remained a point of political contention throughout the 1960s all the way to the 90s.

2. Why the Canal is Important:

The Panama Canal serves as a shortcut for ships: instead of literally traveling around South America, the Canal creates a passage that saves approximately 8,000 excess traveling miles.

3. The Mechanism:

The Panama Canal operates on a lock system which was an engineering marvel during the time of its creation.  The Pacific Ocean is not on the same level as the Atlantic Ocean which can hinder a ship’s passage through the waterway.  A lock system was developed which uses water to raise and lower ships so they can pass through the Canal.  This system is considered one of the great and costliest modern engineering designs in history.

panama canal

4. How to Travel On It:

One of the best ways to experience sailing through the Panama Canal is via a cruise ship.  A number of ships such as Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and more have cruises that allow passengers to view not only the Canal, but the surrounding lush environment. These cruises albeit, a bit pricey, allow passengers to visit locations in both South and Central America.  Tourists in Panama can also take other boat tours through the Canal.

5. You Can Touch It! (Maybe):

When ships or cruises go through the locks, the boats reach quite close to the actual edges of the canal.  If you feel adventurous, there is a possibility that you might be able to stick your hand out and actually touch a piece of history.

panama canal

Amanda Purcell

Amanda has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her secret travel tip: visit places during off season. She loves walking around cities that she's never been to before, especially if she can't speak the local language.

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