Panama Canal, 105 years of uniting the world

Since its opening in 1914, this marvel of engineering has shortened the distance between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Today, with the third set of locks, it has become capable of allowing the transit of the massive neopanamax ships.

The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama for 82 kilometers and is a conduit for maritime trade. Canal locks are at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 m (85 ft) above sea level, and then lower the ships at the opposite ends.

The Panamá Canal.

The Panamá Canal.

The original locks are 34 m (110 ft) wide. A third, wider lane of locks was constructed between September 2007 and May 2016. The expanded canal began commercial operation on June 26, 2016. The new locks allow transit of larger, neopanamax ships, capable of handling more cargo.

Since the new locks began operations three years ago, more than 6,000 neopanamax vessels have transited the Canal.

The expanded Canal has also reaffirmed the waterway’s role as the Green Route of world maritime trade by offering greater cargo carrying capacity and requiring less cargo movements.

As a result of shipping lines rerouting their services to take advantage of these economies of scale, the Neopanamax locks have now led to the reduction of more than 55 million tons of CO2 since their inauguration.

In combination with the Panamax locks, during the same period the waterway has reduced more than 75 million tons of CO2, which is equivalent to the impact of more than 26 million acres of forests in the same timeframe.

The Canal continues to reinvent itself and become more efficient, so it can continue to serve the world for another 100 years.

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