Research Paper History - Panama Canal Enviado

Research Paper History - Panama Canal Enviado - When...

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When thinking of the Panama Canal, most people think of the magnificent engineering worked performed, the gates that lift and lower ships to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and back. However, the history of the canal is far more complex and had big historic implications to the United States and other countries, such as Panama, France or Colombia. In 1513, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the Spaniard conqueror, discovered a narrow strip of land that separated the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This discovery pushed Charles I of Spain to initiate a movement to build a passage through the isthmus that will unite the two oceans 1 . After surveying the land, it was determined that building such canal was an impossible task. During the 19 th century the United States started to grow rapidly. First, the Louisiana purchased from France in 1803, which doubled the size of the country, giving more than “2 million sq km (800,000 sq mi) of land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains” 2 Also, the American-Mexican war in 1846, added “545,783 square miles, including the present States of California, Nevada, and Utah, and a large part of Arizona and New Mexico, as 1 2
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well as part of the state of Colorado” 3 With the new territories the idea of having a canal grew due to the necessity of transporting goods from the west coast to the east coast other than by land. Expeditions were ordered by United States authorities and the surveys determined that the best place to build the canal would be through Nicaragua, not Panama 4 . On the other hand, France had the idea of build a canal through the Panamanian isthmus. The U.S. later followed closely the construction of the canal of Panama by the French, and started following their ever increasing problems as well. Again, the United States conducted several surveying studies to determine the best place to build the canal, either in Panama or Nicaragua 5 . Panama had its own challenges. The canal was planned and later built in the middle of a tropical jungle 80˚F in temperature average. Its dense vegetation made it extremely hard for people and machinery. The jungle had a huge problem, probably the biggest problem when building the canal, which were tropical diseases. Yellow fever and malaria, together with cholera were a threat to workers life. There were also more problems concerning the construction of the canal. The earth’s composition was 3 4 5
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extremely unpredictable, there were rocks and soft soil, all mixed together in unpredictable ways 6 . Also, rain in the area is common and abundant, 105” of precipitation per year 7 . The problem with the rain was flash flooding, given
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