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This Day in History

World History

Monday, July 12, 1920. :   The Panama Canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via the Caribbean sea, is formally dedicated, six years after it was unofficially opened.

     The Panama Canal is a ship canal about 82km in length, linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans via the Caribbean Sea through central America. A canal through Nicaragua was initially preferred by the US, but the Panama site was chosen after a French company acquired the rights to the canal from another bankrupted French company. An American representative of the French company, William Nelson Cromwell, persuaded the United States to take up the Panama route. The canal was ultimately built by the United States between 1904 and 1914 on territory leased from Panama.

The canal saves a total of about 12,500 km on a trip from New York to San Francisco by sea. US President Woodrow Wilson officially opened the Panama Canal on 12 July 1920. However, traffic had been using the canal since its unofficial opening on 15 August 1914, when Canal cement boat Ancon, piloted by Captain John A Constantine, the Canal's first pilot, made the first official transit.

Panama took over control of the Panama Canal on 31 December 1999.

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