What was the main reason the us wanted to build a canal in panama?

President Theodore Roosevelt oversaw the realization of a long-term objective of the United States: a transistor channel. During the 1800s, American and British leaders and businessmen wanted to ship goods quickly and cheaply between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In addition, the economic impact was enormous. Now trade between the two oceans can be united. From the 1890s until World War I, world trade was as important as it is now, so it was important to have a cross-continent travel route.

That's why Wall Street was very supportive and helped finance it. The Panama Canal is important because it serves as an important shortcut between Pacific ports and Atlantic destinations. Before the completion of the canal, a ship from Los Angeles heading to Europe would have to follow the coast of South America to the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina) or across the Strait of Magallanes. Others surrounded Cape Horn and then headed north along the coast before crossing into Europe.

It was a much longer trip, and the channel shortened it by about 8,000 nautical miles. Naturally, this saved a significant amount of money, since a trip from start to finish would be completed much faster, saving fuel and all operating costs, which increase over time. Ultimately, the three locks along the canal route raised ships 85 feet above sea level, until they reached man-made Gatun Lake in the center. Steam shovels carry rocks dragged along two tracks that extract soil from the bed of the Panama Canal around 1908. Because of the way the terrain is, a channel at sea level would be flooded, it was prone to landslides and the terrain was not stable enough.

PBS NewsHour recently interviewed several regional experts to talk about the channel's first 100 years and to get an idea of what the future holds for us. They gave control of the Panama Canal in compliance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaty signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Apparently, without understanding the lessons of the French effort, the Americans devised plans to build a canal at sea level along the approximately 50-mile stretch from Colón to Panama City. As construction took years, construction crews faced flooding and torrential tropical rains that could cause landslides. There is a thriving residential market in the old Canal Zone, and a large part around the canal is a virgin jungle, a watershed, so it is becoming a focus of ecotourism.

Later, the United States signed a new treaty, the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, with the new Panamanian government, in which the United States was granted total control of the territory and the canal project. Economic growth is mainly focused on urban areas, linked to commercial companies, tourism and the Canal. The project was helped by the elimination of disease-transmitting mosquitoes, while chief engineer John Stevens devised innovative techniques and promoted the crucial redesign of a channel at sea level to turn it into a sluice. There were many conflicts that led to massacres, students killed by soldiers because they were trying to fly a Panamanian flag on the Canal.

In 1976, President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty with Panama that ceded control of the canal to Panama on December 31, 1999, in exchange for the promise that the channel would be open internationally at all times.

Abigail Angelotti
Abigail Angelotti

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