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The creation of Panama Canal

March 20, 2016 | Author: | Posted in history, latin-american studies

The Creation of the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was the most ambitious construction project ever undertaken . Political , natural and health obstacles needed to be overcome in to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans . The ultimate goal of creating an international shipping channel was eventually accomplished , but the price paid in to do it was high

The Reasons

In the late 1800 ‘s many countries became interested in the idea of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans . The growth of industry led to a need for fast shipping routes [banner_entry_middle]

between countries

The United States , a rapidly growing industrial power , signed a treaty with England in 1850 to explore the possibility of building a canal . The United States had a particular interest in a canal . Shipping goods from one end of the U .S . to the other required an extremely long trip around the tip of South America . This increased the cost of doing business and the ultimate cost to the consumer

Internal events prevented the United States from undertaking the project at that time , but other countries were still interested . European countries in particular , needed a shorter shipping route to the western U .S . and to Asia

When the U .S . took over construction of the canal again in the early 1900 ‘s , another reason had become apparent . During the Spanish-American war , the delay in bringing reinforcement ships from San Francisco to the Atlantic had nearly proved fatal for the U .S . Navy . President Roosevelt recognized the military aspects of such a canal

The narrow Isthmus of Panama provided a lure that would prove irresistible before the end of the 19th century . It would prove to be a project that took the highest amount of human persistence and innovation

Early Construction

The Isthmus at Panama was the most logical place to create a shortcut between oceans . It was only about fifty miles wide at its narrowest point . Nature provided a formidable obstacle for canal planners however . The terrain was mountainous , with thick jungles and treacherous swamps . Conditions are ideal for jungle growth , requiring constant beat back of already cleared areas

The mountains were formed by volcanic thrusts and contained many different types of rock in unusual formations . The Isthmus of Panama also had been underwater at various times in the past , resulting in underwater formations within the rock

The weather , characterized by rain and high humidity , provided yet another difficulty . As workers would find out , the future canal zone was a ripe breeding ground for tropical diseases like malaria and yellow fever

The earliest attempt to build a shipping canal through the area had been instigated by the French , beginning in 1876 . Exploration began that year for the eventual purpose of building a canal . A route was developed that would include a tunnel through the Continental Divide . In 1878 , a treaty was signed that gave the French the right to build a canal . In return the French agreed to return control to the Colombian government after… [banner_entry_footer]

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