Panama Canal

Panama canal

Our visit to one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels, the Panama Canal, turned out to be the highlight of my time in Panama City.  From the visitor’s center overlooking the first set of locks at Miraflores we were able to view several big liners passing through the canal.  Stretching for 48 miles from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colón on the Caribbean side, the canal consists of three sets of double locks at Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatún.  The locks operate as elevators that raise and lower the ships through the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice versa, thus eliminating the need to travel an additional 8000 miles around Cape Horn (the southern point of South America).  Opened in 1914, the canal continues to play an ever increasing role in shipping and expansion plans – recently approved by a majority vote of Panamanian citizens – are currently underway to increase the capacity of the Panama Canal.  While in Panama City we also explored the city’s Casco Viejo neighborhood, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2003.  When construction began on the canal in 1904 all of Panama City existed where Casco Viejo stands today.

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