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HomeA man a plan a canal panamaThe Panama Canal in facts and figures

The Panama Canal in facts and figures

The Panama Canal celebrates the 100th anniversary of its opening Friday, facing growing competition but still regarded as a crowning achievement of 20th-century engineering. Here are some key facts and figures about the engineering marvel:

Key dates:

1881-1888, 1894-1898: Construction begun under French leadership.

1904-1914: The United States continue and complete the canal.

1977: U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his Panamanian counterpart Omar Torrijos sign a treaty to cede U.S. control of the waterway to Panama.

December 13, 1999: Panama takes ownership of the canal.

January 2016: Target completion date for expansion project to triple the canal’s capacity.

Key figures:

-14,000 ships and 280 million tons of merchandise cross the canal annually.

-Five percent of world maritime traffic uses the Panama Canal.

-80 kilometers (50 miles): length of the canal.

-26 hours: time necessary to cross the canal, including wait times. Without wait, eight to 10 hours.

-26 meters (85 feet): the difference in altitude between the highest point of the canal and sea level.

-60 centimeters (23 inches): space separating the hull of a Panamax vessel — the largest the canal can currently accommodate — from the bank during passage through its narrowest locks.

-Key routes served by the canal: Asia — east coast of the United States; Europe — west coast of the United States and Canada; east coast of the United States — west coast of Latin America.

-Top users of the canal: United States and China.

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