The Panama Canal cuts across the isthmus of Panama providing ship passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It runs from the city of Colon on the Atlantic side to Balboa on the Pacific side.
When merchant sailors recognized the importance of a shortened trade route, the French began the canal construction in 1880. However, severe financial costs and high death rates during construction caused the French to pull out. The United States took over the work in 1904 and completed the enormous task in 1914. The canal is 77 kilometers long, and it is traveled by an average of 40 ships per day.