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Panama Canal Facts and History For Kids


A canal is a waterway that was constructed by humans for the purpose of transportation water, people, ships and/or goods. These were used by ancient Romans in Italy who wished to carry water down to towns, cities and villages from mountaintops where the water was purified and drinkable. A canal that carries ships or people is typically larger, deeper and wider than an aqueduct, and it is dug into the earth.

2. Where Is The Panama Canal?

The Panama Canal, aptly named, cuts through the country of Panama, located in Central/Latin America.

3. How Long Is The Panama Canal?

The Panama Canal, when it was originally dredged, measured 48 miles.

4. Which Two Bodies Of Water Does The Panama Canal Connect?

The Panama Canal was the idea site at which to built a connector from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This was a main traffic route that was traveled 1000 times daily by shipping cargo during its inception. Today, the daily capacity has reached well over 10,000 ships daily. Before the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, if these ships needed to travel from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean, or vice versa, they needed to travel all the way around the southern tip of South America, a route that more than doubled the distance that the Panama Canal would allow.

5. How Long Did It Take To Build The Panama Canal?

It took about 14 years in total to build the Panama Canal once begun by the United States in 1900. This attempt post-dated earlier attempts by the French in 1880. France abandoned the construction of the canal after more than 20,000 of its workers died of disease (primarily yellow fever and malaria as the canal was being dug through dense jungle land) and construction-related accidents such as landslides or equipment failure.

6. When Was The Panama Canal Completed?

The Panama Canal was completed and put into use on August 15, 1914.

7. Why Was The Panama Canal Built?

The Panama Canal was built because shippers traveling from eastern North America to western North America were traveling over 22,000 miles on an extended journey around the southern tip of South America. This trip was more than twice the distance it would have been if there had been a shorter route that cut out South America entirely. The Panama Canal effectively cut the east-west or west-east trip form North America from over 22,000 miles to less than 10,000 miles. It also eliminated the need of shippers to travel through the dangerous waters and weather at the southern tip of South America through the Strait of Magellan or around the tip of the country at Cape Horn.

8. Why Was The Panama Canal Important?

The Panama Canal was first important because of the fact that it halved the trade routes of ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceansby eliminating the need to travel around South America. Additionally, though, the canal was one of the most ambitious and advanced engineering feats even undertaken.

9. How Many People Died Building The Panama Canal?

It was reported that the French pulled out of their initial attempt to build the Panama Canal when almost 22,000 workers died from disease and accidental construction deaths. The US attempted to build the canal 20 years later in 1900. By the time the canal was completed in 1914, the US had lost almost 6,000 of its own workers. This means that the canal was built with a total estimated death toll of 28,000 people.

10. How Many People Were Involved In Building The Panama Canal?

A total of 56,307 people were involved in building the Panama Canal during its 14 year construction period. Around 12,000 were from Europe, 31,000 were from the West Indies and 11,000 were from the United States. The rest were of unknown origin.

11. How Did The Panama Canal Affect Latin America?

The Panama Canal was controlled by the United States from its opening in 1914 until it was signed over the control by Panama in 1999. Since 1999, Panama has been the primary recipient of revenue generated by the canal because of its importance as an import and export route. In 2007, the Panama Canal Authority reported that the canal generated the country well over US$1.7 billion of revenue.

12. Who built the Panama Canal?

The United States built the Panama Canal. It took the country 14 years to complete the 48-mile slice through the Panamanian jungle. The first chief engineer on the project was John F. Wallace. He was in charge for five years, at which time he was replaced by John F Stevens. Stevens saw over the progress of the canal for only two years, until he was replaced by Colonel George W. Goethals, who saw the project through its completion in 1914.

13. Who Owns The Panama Canal?

As of 1999, the Panama Canal was signed over to the Panama Canal Authority of Panama. Until that point, the canal, although located in the country of Panama, was controlled by the United States.

14. What Was The Total Or Final Construction Cost Of The Panama Canal?

When it was completed, the United States had spent a total of $375 million dollars to build the Panama Canal.

15. What Was The First Ship To Use The Canal?

The first ceremonial crossing of the Panama Canal took place on August 15, 1914, when the SS Ancon traveled through the canal during the grand opening of the system. It was a highly celebrated event attended by many people that were vital to the canal’s success.