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Panama Canal

Introduction

Panama Canal, waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic (by way of the Caribbean Sea) and Pacific oceans, built by the United States (1904–14) on territory leased from the republic of Panama. The canal, running S and SE from Limón Bay at Colón on the Atlantic to the Bay of Panama at Balboa on the Pacific, is 40 mi (64 km) long from shore to shore and 51 mi (82 km) long between channel entrances. The Pacific terminus is 27 mi (43 km) east of the Caribbean terminus. The minimum depth is 41 ft (12.5 m).

From Limón Bay a ship is raised by Gatún Locks (a set of three) to an elevation 85 ft (25.9 m) above sea level, traverses Gatún Lake, then crosses the Continental Divide through Gaillard (formerly Culebra) Cut and is lowered by Pedro Miguel Lock to Miraflores Lake and then by the Miraflores Locks (a set of two) to sea level. The average tidal range on the Atlantic side is less than a foot (.3 m); that on the Pacific side is 12.6 ft (3.8 m).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Panama Political Geography


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