On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal opened to cargo traffic. The Panama Canal is a 77-kilometer (48-mile) waterway that cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Panama. The Isthmus of Panama separates the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. Construction of the Panama Canal greatly shortened the route ships traveled when voyaging around the world.

Before the Panama Canal was constructed, ships had to travel around the entire continent of South America in order to get from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. A trip from San Francisco to New York City was about 22,530 kilometers (14,000 miles). The Panama Canal shortened that trip by more than half, to 9,495 kilometers (5,900 miles).

Today, the Panama Canal remains one of the world’s busiest and most lucrative shipping routes. Between 13,000-14,000 ships use the canal each year. Those ships represent 5 percent of all world trade.

cargo
Noun

goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.

construction
Noun

arrangement of different parts.

Noun

one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

Noun

narrow strip of land connecting two larger land masses.

lucrative
Adjective

profitable or money-making.

Panama Canal
Noun

artificial waterway between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea through the country of Panama.

route
Noun

path or way.

shipping
Noun

transportation of goods, usually by large boat.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

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