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Clip #: TFA-61B
Library: TFA Network
Region: Central America
Panama Canal, ocean liner, map, Cristobal, Colon, Gold Hill, Galliard Cut, Balboa Basin, elevation diagram,locks, Pedro Miguel, Miraflores, tractors, mules control tower, lock gates, Panama Pacific line, water rises, gauge, hi speed sequence, Gatun Lake, Cortez tree, banana plantation, farmers, canoe, Chagres River, jungle trails, waterfall, ocean liner sails past palm trees
The Panama Canal is a man-made canal in Panama which joins the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, it had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (6,000 miles), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn. Although the concept of a canal near Panama dates back to the early 16th century, the first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership. After this attempt failed and saw 21,900 workers die, the project of building a canal was attempted and completed by the United States in the early 1900s, with the canal opening in 1914. The building of the 77 km (48 mi) canal was plagued by problems, including disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. By the time the canal was completed, a total of 27,500 workmen are estimated to have died in the French and American efforts.