Location: Panama, Central America and South America
Canal Length: 51 miles
Canal Locks: 3 up and 3 down
Canal Toll Fee: Starts at $800 USD
Annual Vessel Traffic: 800,000+ (2012)
Purpose: Passage for ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean
23 Panama Canal Facts for Kids
The Panama Canal is a manmade waterway that allows ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Panama Canal greatly reduced the distance and time for a ship to travel between the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It also meant ships didn’t need to sail around the dangerous Cape Horn.
The Panama Canal goes through the Isthmus of Panama.
The Panama Canal was built between 1881 and 1914.
France initially tried to build the Panama Canal between 1881 and 1904. However, they stopped working on the canal due to engineering issues and the high death rate of workers. At one point, there were over 200 deaths a month at the peak.
In 1904, the United States took over the Panama Canal project and opened the canal in 1914.
The Panama Canal officially opened on August 15th, 1914.
In 1914, around 1,000 ships traveled through the Panama Canal.
In 2012, around 815,000 ships traveled through the Panama Canal.
The entire length of the Panama Canal is 51 miles.
On average, it takes a ship over 11 hours to pass through the Panama Canal.
The maximum length of a boat that can go through the Panama Canal is 1,200 feet.
The maximum width of a boat that can go through the Panama Canal is 93 feet.
The maximum depth of a boat that can go through the Panama Canal is 49 feet.
The Panama Canal has three locks.
The three locks of the Panama Canal are the Gatun Locks, Pedro Miguel Locks and the Miraflores locks.
Ships must pay a toll fee to pass through the Panama Canal.
In 1928, American adventure Richard Halliburton paid $0.36 to swim through the Panama Canal. To date, this is the lowest toll ever paid to pass through the Panama Canal.
In late 1989 and early 1990, the United States invaded Panama and one of the justifications of the invasion was to protect the integrity of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties. Torrijos–Carter Treaties handled the transfer of control of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian government.
In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers ranked the Panama Canal as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and called it one of the greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century.
In 1999, the USA transferred control and management of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian government.
In 2006, the Panamax tanker Erikoussa paid a $220,300 priority passage toll. This allowed the tanker to avoid a seven day delay caused by a queue of 90 ships. To date, this is the most expensive priority toll ever paid.
In 2010, the Norwegian Cruise Line ship the Norwegian Pearl paid a $375,600 toll to pass through the Panama Canal. To date, this is the most expensive regular toll ever paid.