The canal is joining the atlantic and pacific oceans. It runs from

Cristobal on lemon bay, a part of the Caribbean sea, to Balboa, on the

Gulf of Panama. The canal is slightly more than 64 km long, not including

the dredged approach channels at either end. The minimum depth is 12.5 m,

and the minimum width is 91.5 m. The construction of the canal ranks as

one of the greatest engineering works of all time.

In history people had interest in a shorter route from the Atlantic to

Pacific. This began with the explorers of Central America early in the 16th

century. Hernan Cortez was a spanish conqeror of mexico who suggested

a canal across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Other explorers had favored

routes through Nicaragua and Darien. The 1 st for a canal through the

Panama was started by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Who in 1523

ordered a survey of the isthmus. A working plan for the canal was drawn

up as early as 1529, but was shown to the king. In 1534 a spanish offical

suggested a canal route close to that of the present canal. Later more of the

canal plans were suggested but no action was taken upon any of these plans


Later on there is more in the canal. The Spanish goverment

abandoned its interest in the canal but in the early 19 th century the books

of the Germam scientist Alexander von Humboldt brang back the interest

in the project of the canal, and in 1819the Spanish goverment formally

athorized the construction of a canal and the creation of a company to

build it. Nothing came of this effort, however, and the revolt of the spanish

colonies soon took control of possible canal sites out of spanish hands .

The republics of Central America tried to interest groups in the United

States and Europe in building a canal, and it became a subject of perennial

debate in the congress of the United States. The discovery of gold in

California in 1848 and the rush of would-be miners started the United

States interest in digging the canal. Various surveys made between 1850

and 1875 indicated that only two routes were practical, the one across

Panama and that across Nicargua. In 1876 an international company was

organized. Two years later it obtained a consession from the Colombian

goverment. Panama was then part of Colombia to dig a canal across the


The United States involvement was the international company failed,

and in 1880 a French company was organized by Ferdinand Marie de

Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal. His company went bankrupt in 1889.

United States interest in a Atlantic-Pacific canal however continued. In

1899 the United States congress created an Isthmian Canal comission to

examine the possibilities of a Central American canal and to recommend
a route. The commission 1 st decided on the Nicaragua route, but reversed

its decission in 1902 when the reorganization Lesseps company offered its

assets to the United States at the price of $ 40 million. The united States

goverment negotiated with the Colombian goverment to obtain a strip of

land 9.5 km wide across the isthmus, but the Colombian Senate refused to

ratify this consession. In 1903 , however , Panama revolted from Colombia.

That same year the United States and the new state of Panama signed the

Hay - Bunau - Varilla Treaty by which the United States guaranteed the

independance of Panama and secured a perpetual lease on a 16 - km strip

for the canal. Panama was to be compensated by an initial payment of

$ 10 million and an annuity of $ 250 , 000 , beginning in 1913 . The figure

was later revised upward in 1936 to $ 430 , 000 , and in 1955 to $ 2 million

per year.

The construction of the canal in 1905 the Isthmus Canal Commission

decided to build a canal with locks rather than a sea level channel , and this

plan was approved by the United States Congress the following year .

President Theodore Roosevelt put the construction work under the direction

of the United States Army Corps of Engineers . Colonel George W . Goethalls

was named to head the project .

It was estamated that the canal would be completed in ten years ,

however , it was in operation