History of The Panama Canal

The history of the Panama Canal goes back almost to the earliest European explorers of the Americas. The narrow land bridge between North and South America offers a unique opportunity to create a water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The earliest European colonists of Central America recognized this potential, and schemes for such a canal were floated several times in the subsequent years.

By the late 19th century, technological advances and commercial pressure advanced to the point where construction started in earnest. An initial attempt by France to build a sea-level canal failed, but only after a great amount of excavation was carried out. This was of use to the United States, which completed the present Panama Canal in 1913 and officially opened it in 1914. Along the way, the state of Panama was created through its separation from Colombia in 1903. This was achieved by methods regarded as scandalous and illegal at the time, including supporting the separtist movements in Panama from Colombia, despite legal obligations towards Colombia, in violation of the Monroe doctrine. This greatly enriching certain American investors including JP Morgan and Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, the canal continues to be not only a viable commercial venture, but also a vital link in world shipping.

Read more about History Of The Panama CanalThe French Project, Nicaragua, The United States and The Canal, The Third Locks Scheme (1939), Canal Handover

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