10 Interesting Facts About the Panama Canal

Our inaugural Central America Adventure has just come to an end and we ventured through the Panama Canal for the first time! As RCGS Resolute continues on through the Caribbean and before we receive all of our new images, videos and stories from Costa Rica and Panama, we thought we would whet your appetite with 10 interesting facts about the Panama Canal.

1. The Panama Canal is an artificial 82 km waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.

2. The first time the Panama Canal was used was August 15th, 1914. 2014 marked the one-hundredth anniversary of the canal.

3. One of the most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal was dubbed one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

4. The United States spent $500,000,000 on the construction of the canal. That is the equivalent to roughly $9.1 billion today.

5. The Panama Canal has three locks: the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks are on the Pacific Side and the Gatun Lock is on the Atlantic size.

6.  An average, it takes a ship between 8-10 hours to pass through the canal. This may sound like a long time, but nothing compared to the 2 weeks it would take to travel around South America!

7. Artificially created in 1913 by damming the Chagres River, Gatun Lake is an essential part of the Panama Canal. It provides the millions of litres of water necessary to operate the Panama Canal locks each time a ship passes through.

8. The canal is currently handling more vessel traffic than had ever been envisioned by its builders. In 1934 it was estimated that the maximum capacity of the canal would be around 80 million tons per year. Canal traffic in 2015 reached 340.8 million tons.

9. Only Panama Canal Pilots working with the Panama Canal Authority are able to captain a boat through the Panama Canal. When a ship enters the canal, they are boarded by a pilot, who has full control over the boat until it exits the canal.

10. The Panama Canal takes in about $2 billion a year in revenue, and approximately $800 million goes into Panama’s General Treasury each year.


If you are interested in travelling on RCGS Resolute in Costa Rica and Panama next year, please speak to your preferred travel agent or contact our sales team here.