The Panama Canal is one of the largest infrastructure built by man, and an important catalyst for maritime trade. Built between 1904 and 1914 by the United States, since 2000 it is managed by the Panamanian government.
By 1516, when Nunez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and discovered the small distance between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, he began to think about creating a waterway to cross that road. Studies at the time determined the technical impossibility of doing, and all was building a land route was used to transport the mineral resources of Peru to the east, to ship them to Europe. Later in the nineteenth century, were the French (emboldened after the construction of the Suez Canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea) who tried to repeat their success. However, the harsh natural conditions in Central America prevented them achieve it . Finally, were the United States who took to the adventure. There were two main reasons: firstly, the discovery of gold in California in the mid-nineteenth generated the need to open a route fast and efficient transportation. On the other hand, military necessity (which was evident in the war of Cuba against Spain) to quickly move warships from the West Coast to the East Coast to be a true master of the two oceans. After handling other routes alternatives (Nicaragua) decided to launch the operation by Panama, the then province of Colombia. The United States supported the Panamanian independence movement that culminated in the declaration of independence in 1903. In return, through the Hay-Bunau-Varilla, Panama ceded to the United States sovereignty over the Canal route of the future and a strip his . about 10 miles (5 by side) Thus the work of building the infrastructure, which occurred between great difficulties (due to the very scope of the work began – up to 45,000 people came to work simultaneously on it, the natural environment and disease) from 1904 until its completion in 1914, with the first full transit on January 7 of this year. the Panama Canal cost the US approximately $ 375,000,000, including $ 10,000,000 paid to Panama and $ 40,000,000 paid to the French company, thus becoming the most expensive project undertaken by the country so far. After almost 60 years of operations under US sovereignty, in 1977 the Torrijos-Carter treaties, which drawback is raised in the year 2000 were signed the sovereignty of the Canal to the Panamanians. During the 20 years of transition, the Canal was operated by the Panama Canal Commission, a government agency of the United States. On December 31, 1999 was finally transferred sovereignty, and since then the Canal is operated by the Panamanian authorities through the Panama Canal Authority. The Canal is a route of vital importance to international trade. According to the Annual Reports of the Canal, more than 910,000 ships have transited through between 1914 and 2002. In 2003, 13,154 transits were recorded.188.3 million tons of cargo moved. Revenues from tolls and services accounted for 863.6 million dollars.