The College of Saint Rose and UDELAS in Panama

A partnership about education, culture and the exchange of ideas

Panama: Home of One of the 7 Wonders of the Industrial World

-CHRISTINA ZONTINI

The Panama Canal is one of the most impressive and fascinating structures I have ever seen. The engineering and mechanics of the canal baffles me! The canal serves many purposes, tourism being just one of them. The most important and primary function of the canal is that it provides a passageway between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

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The Panama Canal has a long extensive history, which makes it even more interesting. I love the fact that the citizens of Panama are so well versed in the history of the canal and the small details that make the story great. After talking to tour guides, students from the University, and faculty from the University, I was able to piece the history together with great detail. Each person has a new and different piece of information to add.

According to Alexis, faculty at UDELAS, the French came in first to establish themselves politically and then work on building the canal. They began to build, and unfortunately, encountered many problems throughout the process. Not only was their administration not well educated on Panamanian climate, but they also lacked the proper funding. The French did not realize how hot it was here in Panama and sent their workers with winter clothing. Panama is very close to the equator, which means it is hot all year round. Another major problem was yellow fever. About twenty thousand workers died because of the yellow fever and malaria. Five workers died for every two that survived. The French encountered a series of very unfortunate events, which led them to leave Panama with the canal incomplete and bankrupt.

The United States began their attempt in the early 1900s. Although they lost about five thousand workers, the canal was completed in 1914. It took ten years to construct and about seventy thousand workers. In 1999, the United States handed the canal over to Panama. The canal is very important to Panama for the tourism it attracts and the jobs it provides.

According to Adela, a student at UDELAS, they are beginning to expand the canal. As of right now, only one boat can pass through at a time. With the widening of the canal, more boats will be able to pass, which means a more efficient system. Adela explained to me how with this new job even more jobs have been created, which is great for the people and economy in Panama. Adela truly took pride in telling me about the canal and explained that the canal is extremely important to the people here in Panama. The canal continues to bring in money for this country, which is imperative.

I have learned so much about the Panama Canal through my first-hand experience, pieces of literature, and most importantly the interviews of Panamanians. The interviews have given me insight on how important the canal is for the people of Panama. I would recommend coming to see the canal because it is so amazing. No words could describe the complexity and ingenuity of this architecture!

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2 Comments»

  foxa488 wrote @

I enjoyed your post because even being here and seeing the canal, I didn’t know the French had attempted to build the canal before the US completed it in the early 1900’s. Maybe I was just lost in translation lol I’m trying at least!

  cziamandanis wrote @

Isn’t the Canal something? Before you see it you kind of say “Yeah, yeah, boats go through with cargo.” But then you witness it in person, and it really becomes quite a different thing, especially taking into account the human lives that built it, and were lost building it. Amazing.


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