What was the reason for selecting Pamana as the site for constructing the canal?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a monumental engineering feat that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, allowing ships to avoid the lengthy and dangerous journey around the southern tip of South America. The construction of the canal was a massive undertaking that involved the investment of billions of dollars and the lives of tens of thousands of workers.

The Need for a Canal

The idea of a canal cutting through Central America had been considered for centuries. The Spanish had explored the region in the 16th century and recognized the strategic importance of linking the two oceans. However, it was not until the 19th century, with the increasing importance of global trade and the advent of steam-powered ships, that the need for a canal became urgent. Such a canal would save thousands of miles of travel for ships sailing from the east coast of the United States to the west coast and vice versa, greatly reducing transportation costs and time.

Searching for a Suitable Site

In the late 19th century, the search for a suitable site for the canal began in earnest. A number of options were considered, including routes through Nicaragua, Panama, and Colombia. A key consideration was the presence of a mountain range that had to be navigated, either by cutting a channel through it or by building a system of locks.

The Search Committee

The United States government appointed a committee to investigate the various options. The committee was composed of engineers, geologists, and other experts who were tasked with studying the feasibility of each route. In the end, the committee recommended that the canal be built through Panama, rather than Nicaragua or Colombia.

The Pamana Advantage

Several factors made Panama the ideal location for the canal.

Geographical Location

Panama’s location at the narrowest point of the American continent meant that the canal would be much shorter than if it were built in Nicaragua, for example. This would significantly reduce the time and cost of transporting goods between the two oceans.

Climate and Natural Resources

Panama also had a tropical climate that was conducive to year-round construction. The country was rich in natural resources, such as timber and stone, which could be used in the construction of the canal.

Indigenous Population

Another factor was the indigenous population. Unlike Nicaragua, which had a large and politically active indigenous population, Panama’s indigenous groups were relatively small and politically inactive. This made it easier for the United States to negotiate with the Panamanian government for the construction of the canal.

The French Connection

It is worth noting that the French had already attempted to build a canal in Panama in the late 19th century but had failed due to a number of factors, including disease and financial mismanagement. However, the French had already completed a significant amount of work, including the excavation of a large amount of earth. This meant that the United States was able to take advantage of the work that had already been done and build on it, rather than starting from scratch.

The US Takes Over

In 1903, the United States negotiated a treaty with Panama, which gave the US control over a 10-mile wide zone through which the canal would be built. The US then began construction in earnest, with thousands of workers from around the world coming to Panama to work on the project. The canal was finally completed in 1914 at a cost of over $350 million and with the loss of over 5,000 workers’ lives.

Conclusion: The Panama Canal’s Importance

The Panama Canal has been a critical link in global trade for over a century. It has greatly reduced transportation costs and time and has made it possible for ships to carry larger cargoes. The canal has also had a significant impact on the geopolitical landscape of the Americas, with the United States exerting considerable influence over Panama in the years after the canal’s construction.

References and Further Reading

  • McCullough, D. (1978). The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914. Simon and Schuster.
  • Parker, M. (2010). Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time–The Building of the Panama Canal. Doubleday.
  • "Panama Canal." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 16 Sep. 2021.
Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment