Next month, August 2014, the Panama Canal will be celebrating 100 years of operation. More than one million ships passed through the gates of it within the last century. The 48 mile long, 110 feet wide canal was opened for service on August 15, 1914. It takes 20 to 30 hours to navigate the canal. It connects two oceans, Atlantic and Pacific. Today, more than 14,000 vessels travel through the canal annually. A third and wider lane of locks are under construction and expected to be placed in service in 2015.
The original work on the canal started in 1881 by France. Unfortunately, due to diseases, high mortality and engineering challenges, they abandoned the initial project. In 1904, the United States took over the project and completed the canal within the next decade. Until 1997, the US controlled the canal and adjacent land and eventually handed over the control of the canal to Panama. Subsequently the Panamanian government took over the control of the canal in 1999. Canal contributes to shortening sea trips, saving valuable time, and helps to avoid hazardous Cape Horn route. Its contribution to integrate world economies is much more valuable.