Panama City and its Canal
Panama City, a capital with more than 1,5 million inhabitants. Panama is the name of a city, a province, and also a country. Located on the Pacific Coast, the city is the economic and financial centre of the country, mainly because of the Panama Canal that links the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.
The capital is an impressive mix of modern skyscrapers, a historic district with a nice colonial architecture, and numerous suburbs.
Panama - Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo is the historic district of the city. It was built and settled in 1671 after the destruction of Panama Viejo. In 2003, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture of Casco Viejo is as diverse as its population; architecture style from the Caribbean, art deco, French, and colonial.
Panama - Cerro Ancón
A 200-metre-high hill, located near the historic district, offering some magnificent views on the city and the Panama Canal.
Panama - Panama Viejo
Panama Viejo is the name of the architectural ruins of the first Spanish city on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was funded on August 15, 1519, and later destroyed by pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Following its destruction, the city was rebuilt where Casco Viejo is now located.
The site has a lot of history, but there are few buildings from the ancient city. The views on the city centre are far more interesting than the ruins of Old Panama.
Panama Canal - Miraflores Locks
The Panama Canal, spanning 77 km, links the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. This passage, between the two Americas, allows ships to avoid a detour via Cape Horn (south of Argentine and Chile). A ship going from New York to San Francisco using the canal travel about 9,500 kilometres. The route around South America would be a 22,500-kilometre trip. A substantial saving of time and money.
The first attempt at building the canal dates from 1880, under the control of the French. Yellow fever, devastating floods of the Chagres River, and the financial problems of the company in charge of the project, lead to its failure. In 1901, the company was sold to the United States.
After several years of work, and the death of thousands of workers, the canal is finally completed on August 15, 1914. The USA is in charge of the Panama Canal, and a 5-kilometre band on each side of the canal was considered American territory.
In 1999, the Panama Canal is taken over by Panama. In 2016, after 9 years of works, Panama inaugurate new locks allowing the passage of ships up to twice as wider than before. In numbers, this means that the old locks could handle container ships with a capacity of 4,000 containers, and the new locks can handle ships of up to 18,000 containers. The old locks are still in use.
Panama Canal - Agua Clara Locks
The Panama Canal consists in two artificial lakes, some artificial canals, and three sets of locks. These locks are needed since the centre of the canal go through some mountains. The ships must be elevated to reach the central zone, then lowered back to the level of the ocean.
The tax to cross the Panama Canal is a function of the ship's volume. The highest amount was paid, June 26, 2016, by the container ship that inaugurated the new locks; $358 000. The smallest amount was 36 cents, paid by adventurer Richard Halliburton who crossed the canal swimming. The route around Cape Horn would cost around ten times more than the passage through the canal.
In 2006, the canal saw the transit of the millionth ship since its inauguration in 1914.