The Panama Canal is one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal:
- connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean
- divides North and South America
- is an artificial 82 km waterway
Learn about the history of the Panama Canal and how it works at the official site, Canal de Panamá.
The Canal uses a system of locks – compartments with entrance and exit doors. The locks function as water lifts: they raise the ships from sea level (either Pacific or Atlantic) to the level of Gatun Lake (26 meters above sea level); thus, ships navigate through the channel of the Canal, in the Central Cordillera of Panama.
Each set of locks bears the name of the town where it was built: Gatún (on the Atlantic side), Pedro Miguel and Miraflores (on the Pacific).
The chambers – steps – of the locks are 33.53 meters wide by 304.8 meters long. The maximum dimensions for ships that wish to transit through the Canal are: 32.3 meters wide; draft – depth that reaches 12 meters of tropical fresh water; and 294.1 meters long (depending on the type of ship).
The water used to raise and lower the vessels in each set of locks is obtained from Gatun Lake by gravity: it is discharged into the locks through a main sewer system, which extends below the lock chambers from the lateral walls and the central wall.
You can travel through the Panama Canal via a full or partial transit.
- Entrance to the Panama Canal ~ Flamenco Marina, Amador
- Bridge of the Americas
- Miraflores Locks ~ The ship ascends 18 meters in its two water chambers matching the height of Lake Miraflores
- Miraflores Lake
- Pedro Miguel Locks ~ Ascend 9 meters in a single chamber of water reaching the height of Gatun Lake
- Culebra Cut and the Centennial Bridge
- Panama Canal Dredging Division in Gamboa
Jackie is “Mom” to one amazing son, an IT professional, and an obsessed traveller. She spends her time reading, golfing at Ladies League, and implementing software projects. Jackie has travelled to 7 continents and 90 countries and is always planning the next destination and adventure!