Its Roots Date Back to the 1500s
Although the canal was only opened in 1814, explorers dating back to the 16th century had the idea of creating some kind of passage over this small bridge of land. In fact, Vasco Nunez de Balboa of Spain discovered the tiny amount of land separating the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans back in 1513. He and other explorers started to search for a natural connection between the two oceans, but quickly found that no such area existed.
The United States Spent a Lot of Time Scouting Nicaragua
The Americans wanted to create a canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific throughout the 1800s, but they originally were planning to build it in Nicaragua. A French engineer named Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla started to convince them that Panama was the better choice. By the end of the 19th century, he encouraged Americans to purchase the canal assets that the French owned in Panama.
Building the Canal was Extremely Dangerous
From difficult landmasses to extremely hot and humid weather, the people who built the canal faced a lot of danger as they started to work. Excessive rainfall and the presence of tropical diseases made this job even riskier. While the French began work on the canal, they lost more than 20,000 workers. Once the Americans took over the project, they lost another 5,600.
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