The Gatun Locks on the Panama Canal, each weighting more than 700 tons, close and fill with water. The water lifts ships from the Caribbean Sea to the elevated waters of Gatun Lake. Another set of locks lowers the ships to Miraflores Lake and a final set lowers them to the Pacific Ocean.
Photograph by George F. Mobley, National Geographic

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  • On September 7, 1977, two Panama Canal treaties were signed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian leader Gen. Omar Torrijos. These treaties changed the rules of how the canal is managed and operated. The Torrijos–Carter Treaties overrode the original 1903 Panama Canal Treaty, which granted the United States control over the Canal Zone. The zone bisects Panama in a canal 33.5 meters (110 feet) wide and 77 kilometers (48 miles) long.

    The new Panama Canal Treaty (the second of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties) set a date (December 31, 1999) for Panama assuming full control of the management and operations of the canal.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    bisect Verb

    to cut in half or divide equally in two.

    canal Noun

    artificial waterway.

    manage Verb

    to control or organize a situation or activity.

    operate Verb

    to control or manage.

    Panama Canal Noun

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

    treaty Noun

    official agreement between groups of people.

    zone Noun

    area separated from others by artificial or natural divisions.

    Encyclopedic Entry: zone