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Celebrate Its 100th Birthday and Sail the the Panama Canal

August 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM | by | ()

Photo of a vessel making a trail run through the Panama Canal in 1913

The Panama Canal celebrated its 100th birthday on Friday, the occasion serving as an opportunity to reflect on just how much this feat of engineering changed the world, and how much it continues to contribute to our shipping capabilities today.

For those who want a quick and dirty history lesson into its development – a process that was riddled with obstacles and problems – you can read up on it here, including the series of events that led to the United States gaining control of the Canal project in 1902 and then finally handing it over to Panama in 1999. There's also a great read that lists some fascinating facts about the project, such as the little-known tidbit that 25,000 workers died during its construction.

Given its success and contributions to our global commerce, Panama has decided to invest more than $5 billion into expanding the Canal to allow larger ships to pass through. The expansion will allow an increase in trade volumes between Asia and the Americas.

As all this takes place, remember that you can actually sail through the Panama Canal during your next visit and experience what it takes to cross the 50-mile shortcut. There are a number of tour operators that offer full and half day excursions of various levels of luxury, such as the Pacific Queen and Panama Canal Tours, for example.

The biggest piece of advice for when it comes to sailing the Panama Canal is to be patient. Passing through the locks is not a swift process, and those not enthralled by the experience might find themselves itching for action. As a result, we recommend doing a half-day tour unless you consider yourself a fanatic.

[Photo: Nat Geo]

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