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Panama Canal Port Planner

Travelers may disagree on which sites deserve to be considered modern wonders of the world, but the Panama Canal would make most short lists. The shipping channel—which took 33 years to complete and cost 25,000 workers their lives, most from yellow fever or malaria—is arguably the greatest engineering…

Travelers may disagree on which sites deserve to be considered modern wonders of the world, but the Panama Canal would make most short lists. The shipping channel—which took 33 years to complete and cost 25,000 workers their lives, most from yellow fever or malaria—is arguably the greatest engineering project ever. The idea of creating a shortcut between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans was first proposed in the 16th century, but it wasn’t until 1881, with a French effort led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, who had developed the Suez Canal, that construction began. The harsh conditions and high expenses defeated the French, who abandoned the work in 1894. The United States took over the project in 1904 and completed it in 1914; it remains to this day the largest American engineering project.A journey through the canal will take you from the port of Colón on the Atlantic to bustling Panama City on the Pacific. (The land you see on each side of the canal for eight kilometers, or five miles, into the interior was, until 1979, politically part of the United States as an unincorporated territory.) Along the way, you’ll sail through Gatun Lake, once the largest manmade lake in the world. It has proved a boon for Central American species that thrive here, undisturbed by the ships passing by.

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