The Panama Canal

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Descriptive essay: The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is an artificial 48-mile waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.


There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 metres above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. France began work on the canal in 1881 but stopped due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate. The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914. Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in 1914, when the canal opened, to 14,702 vessels in 2008.

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