Interesting facts about the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal connects two oceans - the Pacific and the Atlantic. For the first time, the idea of ​​building such a canal was expressed in the 16th century by the Spaniard Vasco Nunez de Balboa, who noticed that the Isthmus of Panama separating these two oceans is small, therefore, it is possible to build a structure that will significantly shorten the path of sea vessels in this region.

Even the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was interested in this plan. The ruler ordered a thorough investigation of the isthmus for the construction of a navigable canal. But, the commission made a disappointing conclusion - it is impossible to pave the way for the ships in this area.

They returned to the implementation of the "fantastic" idea only at the end of the 19th century. The French Geographical Society decided to create a joint-stock company with a loud name - the Universal Company of the Interoceanic Canal. The French, relying on the successful experience of the construction of the Suez Canal, tried to prove that the same is possible in Panama.

Construction began in 1881, and a few years later the company went bankrupt. It was only in 1903 that the United States decided to continue working. 11 years later, on August 15, 1914, the first ship passed through the canal - the steamer "Enkon". But, the official opening took place only 6 years later - on June 12, 1920.

An enormous amount of money was spent on the construction of the canal - almost $ 640 million. The length of this structure is 81 kilometers 600 meters, the depth is 12 and a half meters. On average, a ship travels from one ocean to another in 7-8 hours. The maximum throughput is 48 vessels per day. In 2010, the jubilee, millionth ship passed through the channel.

During the construction of the Panama Canal, tens of thousands of workers died from disease or died in accidents. Researchers call a terrible figure: one kilometer of the canal cost, on average, 400 human lives!

On October 13, 1913, near the city of Gamboa, a powerful explosion thundered, with the help of which the last isthmus between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans was destroyed. The start button was personally pressed by US President Woodrow Wilson. True, the president himself was at that time in his office in the White House. From his desk to the site of the explosion, a cable was specially laid, the length of which was 4, 000 kilometers.

The Panama hat got its name from the canal. It was these hats that the builders used to protect themselves from the scorching sun. By the way, "Panamas" are included in the national costume of the inhabitants of Ecuador, it is more logical to call them "Ecuadorians"

Before the opening of the Panama Canal, ships sailing from San Francisco to New York had to cover a huge distance of 23, 000 kilometers. The canal made it possible to shorten the path by almost three times.

There is a possibility that the Panama Canal will have a "double" in the coming years. Due to the high workload, it became necessary to build another similar structure. It is assumed that the new canal will be laid through the territory of Nicaragua. Back in 2013, the government of this country approved this project, and a year later it was finally approved.

True, environmentalists are already sounding the alarm. In their opinion, the canal will cause irreparable harm to Lake Nicaragua, through which the new shipping canal will pass. And this lake is an important source of fresh drinking water.