3 Panama Canal Facts You Probably Didn’t Know


The Panama Canal not only shaved 8000 miles off this journey but also helped the US become one of the most powerful nations in the world thanks to the control of both Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. It opened the floodgates for economic growth in the hemisphere. There are a few Panama Canal facts that you probably didn’t know. We list them for you:

The First Ship to Pass Through the Canal

The Panama Canal opened to maritime traffic on August 15th, 1914. The first ship that crossed through the canal was the S.S. Ancon on the 7th of January 1914. And since the canal was expanded in 2016, MS Disney Wonder was the first cruise ship to use the new locks. Nearly 14,000 ships sail every year through the canal. The United States uses this route the most, followed by China, Japan, Chile, and North Korea.

America Has Planned to Build a Canal in Nicaragua

Speaking of Panama Canal facts, did you know that the United States wasn’t too keen initially on choosing Panama as a location for the canal? This was because they did not want to begin where the French has so magnificently failed. And the Colombian government which controlled the territory then wasn’t too keen either. However, it was due to the efforts of Philippe –Jean-Bunau-Varilla, that Panama was finally chosen. He lobbied intensely with Congressmen to convince them into choosing Panama over Nicaragua. When the Colombian government refused the US proposal, Panama declared its independence.

The Construction of the Canal Helped Research for Yellow Fever

We do know that nearly 25,000 people lost their lives during the canal’s construction. This was largely due to instances of yellow fever and malaria. The United States understood early on that if they had to complete the project, it was very important to control yellow fever and malaria. Thanks to efforts by Cuban scientist Carlos Finlay and the US army physician Major Reed, we now know that mosquitoes are the carriers of these deadly diseases. Later, a US sanitary officer Dr. Gorgas was assigned with the responsibility of eradicating the disease. He did this by spraying insecticides in homes, installing mesh windows and doors, and fumigating large swathes of land.

The Author loves to collect fun facts about the places he has traveled. His latest Panama Canal facts compilation is a result of a recent visit to the Canal.

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