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National Geographic Megastructures - Panama Canal

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The Panama Canal is a 48 mile man-made strip of water that connects the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean. The Canal is vital to shipping and cuts thousands of miles off millions of tonnes worth of shipping every year, which is why it was built with a tremendous amount of effort, firstly by the French who began work in 1881 and then by the United States who finished and opened the canal on August 15 1914. It is one of the greatest feats of engineering ever and a very profitable one for the Panama government after the US handed control of it back over to them after the 1977 Torrijos-Carter treaty. The canal rises to an elevation of 26 meters above sea-level meaning the Panama canal has to operate using two locks at either end to raise the height of the water, this was a feature the designers wanted to incorporate since it would require a lot less digging and shaved construction time.

 

Since the Panama Canal opened around 333 million ships have passed through it. In 1914 the traffic was around 1000 ships annually, today there are around 14,000. In this Panama Canal documentary we see what challenges are faced while using one of the seven wonders of the modern world as well as the immense effort it takes to keep the passage operational. In the film it is clear to see how beneficial the Canal is for the country of Panama as they plan to upgrade it for the future super ships. 

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