- Characteristics of the structure
- Geographical features of Panama
- Panama resources
- Channel history
- Channel benefits
- Technical features of the structure
- Calculation of payments for the passage of the vessel
- Modern channel upgrade
- Future plans
Many are interested in the question: where is the Panama Canal located? It is located in Central America, separating the North American continent from the South American. It is an artificial water channel connecting the Gulf of Panama in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic. The coordinates of the Panama Canal correspond to the subequatorial zone of the Western Hemisphere.
Characteristics of the structure
The Panama Canal connects 2 oceans - the Pacific and the Atlantic - with a narrow water strip. It is located in the tropical zone of the northern hemisphere. Geographical coordinates of the Panama Canal: 9°12´ north latitude and 79°77´ west longitude. August 14, 2014 marked the centenary of the official launch of this giant technical facility.
The Panama Canal is 81.6 km long. Of these, 65, 2 lie on land, and the remaining kilometers - along the bottom of the bays. The width of the Panama Canal is 150 meters, and the width of the locks is 33 meters. The depth of water in the channel is 12 meters.
Throughput is moderate. This is explained by the smallwidth of the Panama Canal. Up to 48 ships can sail through it per day. But any ship, including tankers, can pass through it. When building ships, the width of the channel is taken into account, which determines the limit of their width. Approximately 14,000 ships pass through it annually, carrying a total of 280 million tons of cargo. This is 1/20 of the total value of all ocean traffic. Such a dense flow leads to an overload of the channel with ships.
The price for the passage of the vessel is very high and can reach up to 400,000 dollars.
The time for vessels to move through the canal is more than four hours, with an average of 9 hours.
The described channel is not the only one of its kind. The Panama and Suez canals are quite similar to each other, being exclusively artificial structures.
Geographical features of Panama
A crucial role in the economy of Panama is the service of transit ships. It is an important source of income for this state. As an independent country, Panama was formed in 1903, after secession from Colombia.
Panama is located on the narrowest part of the Central American Isthmus. A narrow mountain range runs along its center, on both sides of which there are lowlands. The Panama Canal region has experienced extensive depression, with a maximum elevation of just 87 meters above sea level.
The climate of Panama is divided into 2 types. In the part that faces the Caribbean Sea, it is humid tropical, with a mild wet season and no dry season. The amount of precipitation is about 3000 mm per year. Soon the Pacific side, the amount of precipitation is much less, and the dry season is quite pronounced.
In Panama, large areas are covered with forests. In the north, these are humid evergreen forests, and in the south - semi-deciduous, with areas of light forests. Slash-and-burn agriculture is at risk of shallowing rivers and disrupting the Panama Canal.
Among the minerals, oil and copper deposits are of the greatest importance. Fishing and agriculture play an important role in the economy.
The construction of the Panama Canal was first discussed in the 16th century. Then the construction was abandoned for theological reasons. Only in the 19th century, against the background of the rapid growth of ocean freight traffic, was real construction started. However, the project turned out to be little corresponding to the geographical realities of the places where the construction was carried out. Builders died in the thousands from tropical diseases, and the work itself was harder than it should have been according to the project, which led to cost overruns already at the initial stage of construction. The results were lawsuits and mass public protests in France, whose workers built the canal.
Among the defendants was the creator of the famous Eiffel Tower - A. G. Eiffel. Due to all these failures in 1889, construction work was stopped. Panama Canal shares depreciated.
After 1900, the Americans took over the construction. To do this, they decided to conclude an agreement with Colombia on the transfer of the right to use a strip of land where the canal was to be built. The agreement was signedbut the Colombian Parliament did not approve it. Then the United States, by organizing a separatist movement, separated a piece of territory from Colombia, which became known as the Republic of Panama. After that, an agreement was signed with the authorities of this new republic on the transfer of rights to use this piece of territory.
Before starting to build the canal, the Americans decided to get rid of malarial mosquitoes. To do this, an expedition of 1,500 people was sent to Panama, who were engaged in draining the swamps and destroying mosquito larvae with pesticides. As a result, the risk of fever was reduced to an acceptable level by those standards.
Construction was started in 1904 on a new, more realistic project, which proved to be successful. In addition to the canal itself, locks and artificial lakes were created to overcome the height difference. 70 thousand workers were involved and 400 billion dollars were spent, and the time of work stretched for 10 years. Almost one in ten workers died during construction.
In 1913, the last isthmus was officially blown up. To do this, a cable 4 thousand kilometers long was stretched from there to the office of US President Thomas Wilson, where a button was installed. At the other end was 20,000 kg of dynamite. The ceremony was attended by various dignitaries at the White House. The opening of the Panama Canal took place a year later. However, various problems prevented the operation of the canal, and only in 1920 did it begin to steadily perform its functions.
Since 2000, the Panama Canal has become the property of Panama.
The channel project has become one of the largest in the history of mankind. Its influence on shipping in the world, and especially in the Western Hemisphere, is very great. This makes it one of the most important objects of geopolitics. Previously, ships had to go around the entire South American continent. After the opening of the canal, the length of the sea route from New York to San Francisco was reduced from 22.5 to 9.5 thousand km.
Technical features of the structure
Due to the peculiarities of the location of the Isthmus of Panama, the canal is directed from the southeast (Panama Bay of the Pacific Ocean) to the northwest (to the Caribbean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean). The height of the canal surface reaches 25.9 meters above sea level. Therefore, artificial lakes and sluices were created to fill it. In total, 2 lakes and 2 groups of locks were created. Another artificial lake, Alajuela, is used as an additional source of water supply.
The channel has two passages designed for the movement of ships in both directions. Only on their own afloat, ships are not able to pass it entirely. For the transportation of ships through the locks, special electric locomotives using railway tracks are used. They are called mules.
To sail freely through the canal, the ship must meet certain dimensions. The bars are set for the upper values of such indicators as the length, height, width and depth of the underwater part of the vessel.
In total, 2 bridges cross the canal. Along it between the cities of Colon and Panama there is a road and railroad.
Calculation of payments for the passage of the vessel
The administration of the Panama Canal, which is the state property of the Republic of Panama, is responsible for collecting payments. The amount of the fee is determined according to the established tariffs.
For container ships, payment is made based on the volume of the vessel. The unit of volume is TEU, which is equal to the capacity of a regular twenty-foot container. For 1 TEU you need to pay about $50.
For other types of vessels, the rate is calculated by the size of their displacement, expressed in tons of water. For one ton, you need to pay about three dollars.
For small vessels, the fee is determined by their length. For example, for ships with a length of less than 15 meters, the amount is $500, and for ships with a length of more than 30 meters - $2,500 (for reference: 1 dollar is 57 Russian rubles).
Modern channel upgrade
Recently, work has been actively carried out to increase the bandwidth of the channel. This is due to the growth of global trade, in which China plays a decisive role. It was he who was the initiator of new construction work. The modernization began in 2008 and was completed in mid-2016. Over $5 billion was spent on all the work, but the costs will quickly pay off.
Thanks to the greater capacity, the canal can now serve supertankers with a capacity of up to 170,000 tons. Maximumthe number of ships capable of passing through the Panama Canal increased to 18.8 thousand in a year.
It is symbolic that the first ship to pass through the reconstructed canal was a Chinese container ship. The expanded capacity of this facility will allow transporting up to 1 million barrels of Venezuelan oil to China per day.
A feature of the modern reconstruction was the deepening of the bottom and the installation of wider locks.
The constant growth of trade between countries and the increase in the number of ships will eventually lead to the need to build additional routes to pass through the isthmus. There are plans to build another canal, but through the territory of Nicaragua. Such projects appeared in the distant 17th century, but were not implemented. Now the situation is completely different.
Thus, in 2013, the Nicaraguan authorities approved a project to lay a canal on its territory, which could become an alternative and even competitor to the Panama Canal. Construction costs here will be much higher - as much as 40 billion dollars. Despite this, in 2014 this project was approved.
Thus, the Panama Canal is one of the largest hydraulic structures in the history of mankind. The history of the projects of this building has several centuries. And although the canal was built by the forces of the United States, now China plays a decisive role in its future fate. In the near future, it is possible to lay another trans-American channel forshipping.