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Panama - The Canal


İCharly Kurz / Lookat.
On 31st of December 1999, the Americans turned over the last piece of land of the former canal zone to Panama. A long period of American domination in the country ended.

Due to the contract of 1904, a corridor of 15 km width and 80 km length became American property. A canal, 28 metres above sea level was built.
After the French attempt to cut the Isthmus with more than 20'000 people dying, the Americans managed to construct the canal in only 9 years. An engineering masterpiece was created with lock doors and other gears still running until now. Almost 100 years later the big cruises still fit in the locks.
Now they widen the canal, which is half the way only one-way traffic, and work again at the Gaillard cut.
The entrance to the canal at the pacific side lies at Calsada Amador, where kids are jumping into the water in front of the skyline of the modern Panama City. On the other side is Colon, once one of the most prosperous cities of Central America. Today it's a kind of lawless place. A lot of people who work in the huge freetrade zone in Colon often live on the other side of the canal, in Panama.
Panama is the banking center of South America. Not only the skyline reminds one of the United States. Kids are cruising through the night wasting their parents money. The ladies are coming with their chauffeurs to "Club Union" for the afternoon tea.
It is no secret that Punta Patilla, where the rich people live, was built with drug money. Especially during the period of dictator Manuel Noriega some people made a lot of money.

Panama gets the chance to make its economy stronger with tourist facilities and shipping ports at this important geographical point.
Although many Americans and skilled workers left the country at the end of the last century, a lot of local people were trained and sites were given back step by step. So there is no question; the Panamenians are prepared to run the canal as good as ever.

Cruise in locks. Panama 1998
View Images: Panama - The Canal