PANAMA CANAL is an important water route linking north America to south America but most importantly the Atlantic ocean with a width between 391-305, its depth is between 12-26 meters and the total tourniquet is 80000 tones. The canal was completed in 1914 having funded by the USA and built by the United States Marine corps engineers.
However this was the second attempt after the first attempt the French who failed due to a number of reasons especially Malaria and other tropical diseases which wiped away almost the entire work force but most importantly due to bankruptcy of the French company.
It is a vital water way joining the Caribbean sea and the Atlantic ocean. the travelling time along the canal form one end to another is 14 hours and it is due to the numerous locks that were put so as to raise the water volume for larger going ocean vessels to sail through easily. Such locks are found at Gatum Pedro-migul and at Milafores.
The major aims of the canals include:
1. To provide a route way from the eastern to the western coast of the USA.
2. To promote trade between the Caribbean states and other countries of South America through reducing transport costs.
3. To protect America`s` strategic interests in south America so as to guard against soviet expansion in the area.
4. To stimulate exploitation of natural resources like minerals, forests and fisheries in the areas.
It has also increased smuggling especially contraband for example drugs, ammunition, and other
POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION OR IMPORTANCE OF THE PANAMA CANAL
There has been stimulation of the exploitation of natural resources for example minerals like gold and manganese mined from panama, oil from Costa Rica, coal from Columbia as well as gold and oil from California. In addition to mining activities from the gulf of Florida that is oil, iron ore, zinc and copper. This was through easy transportation of mining equipment, workers as well as minerals and mineral products.
There has been growth of towns and urban centers in areas that were too rural and under developed. Such towns started off as small trading centers but now are full modern centers with modern infrastructures that is Balbo in the south near Panama Columbia boarder, pedro-migul and Cristobal.
The panama canal helped to shorten distances that were originally covered by moving down cape horn from the Atlantic before connecting to the pacific for example the canal saves about 7800 miles (km) on a trip from new York t San Francisco by sea. This has helped to save months of hazardous voyages that were covered before.
Te canal has provided cheap transportation of various products from the eastern to the western coast of USA as well as from North America to Asia. Such products include manufactured industrial products like Auto mobiles, Machinery as well as agro products from the eastern coast of USA to central America and the western coast to Asia and other countries.
The completion of the canal in 1914 facilitated mobility of people and attracted linear settlements along the canal zone an area which was sparsely populated before the construction of the canal. Such settlements simulated the growth and development of other economic activities especially trade and commerce, industrialization and many others.
Industrial development was stimulated along the canal resulting into development of various industrial zones and towns for example Cristobal, Pedromigul, Gatun, Panama city and many others. The major industries include agro-0processing, mineral processing, ship building and repair, textiles and many others due to easy transportation of raw materials, workers and finished industrial products.
The canal opened up former remote areas to development as the areas were now made accessible resulting into easy transfer of technologies as well as provision of social and economic infrastructures.
The canal promoted inter territorial co-operation as various countries that use the canal for transportation of imports and exports have come up together so as to map maintenance and sustainability of the canal. This has been through formation of the organization of American states a grouping of North and central American states aimed at fostering mutual cooperation trade between countries.
The canal is a source of government revenue through taxation of the various commodities passing through it. This includes minerals and mineral products, agro-products timber and so many others for example in 2006 revenue worth 1.4 billion USA dollars was realized and such revenue has been used to offer various social services to the people of Panama.
Employment opportunities have been provided to a number of people from the construction stage to the present for example ship captains, traders, port managers together with those employed in the various industries which have been set up after the completion of the canal. This has made such people enjoy a dsposable income and thus improve on their living standards.
The canal has enabled effective government control of Panama leading to easy dissemination and supervision of government policies as well as transporting government agents to different parts of the country. This has been through the improve communication between the northern and southern parts of the country as a result of the canal construction.
The canal strengthened international relations between USA and Panama resulting into increased aid from USA to Panama as well as the increased trade between the two countries leading to economic growth and development.
The canal stimulated the development of an efficient transport and communication network as various road and railway lines were constructed to link up with the canal so as to create an efficient transport network. This has again helped to open up the various parts of Panama leading to their growth and development.
Increased foreign exchange has been realized by the various Caribbean and central American states through increased export of various products for example agro-produce minerals and industrial products from Costa Rica, Columbia, Panama and the Caribbean states like Cuba, Bahamas, Jamaica and many others.
It has promoted tourism since it’s a major attraction being one of the major marvels of man as he was able to construct a water way in a formerly rocky and highland area. The canal its self transports tourists visiting various places of interest in central America like the dense tropical forests and wild life, drainage features like Gatum lake and other rivers are rich cultural heritage of central Americans and many other attractions with panama and neighboring countries.
NEGATIVE CONTRIBUTION OF PANAMA CANAL
Accidents along the canal are common resulting in to death and destruction of property. At the construction stage over 10000 workers died due to drowning, Malaria and other tropical diseases as well as accidents. More people have been dying as a result of numerous accidents along the canal.
Development of towns with their associated problems like high crime rate, slum development, congestion and many others towns like Cristobel, Balbore, Pedromigul, Miraflores. There is congestion along the canal leading to delays and increased transport costs this is mainly due to the lock system as one vessel goes through the locks at a time and there are several locks at the Gatun, Pedromigul and miraflores.
Pollution especially air, water and noise pollution due to the increased traffic along the canal.
There is environmental degradation especially deforestation as forests had to be cleared to pave way for construction of the canal.
There was under cutting of steeper areas leading to increased landslides.
Loss of independence on the part of Panama as USA who were the major financers of the project took up control of Panama canal zone that is 50 km on either sides of the canal until the natives had to revolt leading to the signing of the torrijos-carter treaty on 7th October 1997 which came into force on 31st December 1999 handing over the canal to Panama the run by the Panama canal authority however up to date, USA has a strong hand in running of the canal.
Rural urban migration and its consequences as many people have left the country to come and settle in the various towns that have come up along the canal.