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Panama Canal celebrates 100 years of connecting the world

LatinaLista — One of the earliest examples of how technological innovation could connect the world was on August 15, 1914. It’s the date when one of the most impressive displays of modern-day engineering was opened — the Panama Canal.

For the first time in global history, time could be saved with shipments traveling by sea from one side of the world to the other. Instead of it taking months to go from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the Panama Canal created a short-cut of 48 miles that let ships sail from one side of the world to the other in a matter of hours. A feat that resulted in the creation of 144 routes via the Panama Canal with goods for about 1,700 ports in more than 160 countries.

Every school kid in America, at one time or another, learned about the series of locks that fill with water to carry ships across the Isthmus of Panama. It remained a one-of-a-kind engineering marvel. Yet, competition always eventually arrives — even if it’s a 100 years later.

Today, Panama’s days are numbered as being the sole transoceanic gateway on this side of the world. Just up the coast from Panama, Nicaragua is eyeing their own canal. China is heavily investing in the building of the Nicaragua Canal.

The Nicaragua Canal would connect the Caribbean with the Pacific. Described as the “poorest country in mainland Latin America,” Nicaragua has high hopes that a financial ‘wave’ of good fortune will hit their country, much like what has happened with Panama’s economy thanks to the Panama Canal.

Time will tell but Panamanians are not wasting any time celebrating the centennial anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal and reminding us of its history and place in the world.

Panamanian authorities created a special website looking back on the past 100 years. Featuring historical videos, photos, trivia and text, the web site conveys the sense of national pride Panamanians feel about the canal.

And it’s not only in Panama.


The U.S. Census released an infographic underscoring the enduring connection the U.S. has with the Panama Canal. First, as builders of the canal and its operators until 1999, and now through the 180,000+ U.S. Latinos of Panamanian descent.

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