Anniversary of the Opening of the Panama Canal

Featured Content On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal opened to cargo traffic connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans


President Roosevelt on a digging machine during construction of the Panama Canal, circa 1908, Source: Library of Congress 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

93 Stat. 452 - Panama Canal Defense Act of 1979
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1994 Public Papers 676 - Message to the Congress on the Panama Canal Commission
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1999 Public Papers 2299 - Statement on the Transfer of the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama
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Resources