1. France was ultimately the first country to attempt building a canal through Panama in 1881. However, because of numerous incidents of deaths and many other issues, the project was abandoned in 1889. The United States took over the project in 1904 and completed the Canal in 1914.
3. After declaring independence, Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was made between the United States and Panama granting exclusive canal rights to the United States across the Isthmus of Panama in exchange of a one-time sum of $10 million for the rights, and a yearly lease.
4. More than 25,000 people died during the construction, mostly from disease. About 20,000 died during the French time, and more than 5,000 died during the US build.
6. From its opening in 1914, the Panama Canal was controlled by the US until 1977 the Torrijos-Carter Treaty provided for handover to Panama on December 31, 1999. Panamanians were given increasing responsibility for the canal operations before complete US withdrawal in 1999.
7. The Panama Water Lock System consists of a total of three sets of locks. To cross from the Atlantic to Pacific, ships are lifted approximately 85 feet, to the level of Gatun Lake that lies beyond the locks.
8. The 3 locks are Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks (Pacific Side), and the Gatun Locks (Atlantic side).
9. These locks raise or lower a ship, approximately 28 feet. The Miraflores Locks: 2 chambers, Pedro Miguel Locks: 1 chamber, Gatun Locks: 3 chambers.
10. Ships can travel around 8-10 hours in the Panama Canal. In comparison, ships can take 2 weeks to travel around South America bypassing the canal.
11. Each lock consists of two lanes allowing multiple ships to pass through at a time, however, they can’t handle large ships traversing in opposite directions. During the day, the direction of the locks are switched every six hours and priority is larger ships to complete the travel in an 8-10 hour time frame. In the night time, two way traffic handles smaller ships.
12. Ships are charged depending on their weight. The average toll for a ship is around $150,000, but it can get higher for the bigger ships, plus the additional surcharges.
13. The smallest ever toll is 36 cents, paid by Richard Halliburton who swam the length of the canal in 1928.
15. On average, 35 to 40 ships transit the canal each day, with 13,000 -14,000 ships each year.
16. The 1,000,000th ship to transit the canal was the Fortune Plum in September 4, 2010.
17. You can cross using your own private boat for a cost ranging from $800-3200. You will share locks transit with a bigger ship, given that it’s very expensive for the locks to be operated for this cost.
18. A new set of locks have now been built to handle bigger ships. The expanded Panama Canal locks were officially opened on June 26th, 2016.
19. Panamax ships are specifically built to the largest specifications possible to transit the current locks of the canal.