The Panama Canal is a man-made transoceanic route that was first constructed by the French and completed by the Americans in 1914. It was made to shorten the travel time needed by ships needing to get to the Atlantic from the Pacific, and vice versa. Its two ends are at the Gulf of Panama, and the Caribbean.
The United States previously controlled the Panama Canal Zone, but it was turned over to the Panama Canal Authority on December 31, 1999.
How the Canal Came to Be
The idea to build a canal in the Gulf of Panama was the brainchild of Charles V of Spain, the Holy Roman Emperor, who suggested in 1532 that the passage would ease shipping for the Spain-Peru route. The suggestion was then studied by explorer Alessandro Malaspina during a voyage in 1788-1793. Malaspina even came up with construction plans.
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