Prior to the Panama’s Canal’s construction, ships had to travel around the entire continent of South America to get from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
Construction of the Canal shortened the route ships traveled when voyaging around the world.
The Canal’s 48-mile waterway cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Panama which separates the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea.
The Panama Water Lock System consists of Lock Gates which allow vessels entering the canal to be lifted to a higher level over the terrain of Panama in order to reach the other end of the canal, and lowered upon return.
After an extensive Canal Expansion Project (2009 – 2016), a third lane was added to allow for a greater number of transits as well as the ability to handle transit of larger ships.
Sources: National Geographic Marine Insight
The Panama Canal Commission
The Panama Canal Commission was established by Pub. Law 96-70 (the Panama Canal Act of 1979) and began operations on October 1, 1979. The Commission functioned as an independent agency with the primary purpose of operating and maintaining the Panama Canal and associated facilities in cooperation with the Republic of Panama. On December 31, 1999, the Commission’s duties and sovereignty over the canal were transferred to the Republic of Panama, upon the termination of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977. (Source: Office of the Federal Register )
Panama Canal Related Publications
Browse through govinfo’s “Panama Canal Related Publications”. These documents are from the early 20th century through the 1990’s and made available through a partnership between the U.S. Government Publishing Office and the University of Florida.
Other Related Documents
- View “The Story of the Panama Canal,” a seven-part film documenting the work of building the canal and showing the waterway in operation. (Library of Congress)
- Read “Building the Panama Canal, 1903–1914” to learn more about the history of the canal. (U.S. Department of State)
- More than 18 million people came to the 1915 San Francisco world’s fair, called the “Panama-Pacific Exposition,” to celebrate the opening of the canal. Read more about the 11- month Exposition and how it became a reality. (National Park Service)
- Read about how the control of malaria was vital for the construction of the Panama Canal. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Search across govinfo for more government documents related to the Panama Canal.
- Search GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) to find more publications related to the Panama Canal. The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links to the full document, when available. Included in this collection are, “Panama Canal Expansion Study, November 2013 Report” and “The Panama Canal An Army’s Enterprise."