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FOR AGES 3 YEARS TO 18 YEARS
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The Panama Canal, measuring 51 mi (82 km), has linked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans since 1914.
Although the Panama Canal was built throughout Panama Isthmus, this particular isthmus was not the United States' first choice. They were inclined to build a canal throughout Nicaragua, which was dropped, as this zone had high volcanic activity.
Isthmuses have been natural regions for canals and ports, connecting aquatic and terrestrial trade routes, and separating two bodies of water. The Isthmus of Panama was historically called the Isthmus of Darien and is a narrow strip of land lying between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It also forms a link between North and South America. This isthmus contains the Panama Canal and the country of Panama . It has a high, strategic location, like other isthmuses. The Isthmus of Panama is believed to have formed about four billion years ago. It separated the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and was the cause for the creation of the Gulf Stream. Henry Fairfield Osborn, a North American paleontologist, suggested this in 1910 based on the mammal fossil records found in Central America. Alfred Wegner also proposed his theory of continental drift based on this foundation in 1912.
The shores of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean are only around 37.2 mi (60 km) apart in Panama. This narrow strip of land, splitting two bodies of water, is embraced by Panama and also over 1,600 islands off the Pacific Coast and Atlantic Coast. The Caribbean Sea that extends from the Atlantic Ocean is located to the north of Panama and the Pacific Ocean on the south. The Pacific coastline stretches up to 1,060 mi (1,700 km), and the Caribbean Coast stretches up to 800 mi (1,290 km).
Around 20 million years ago, North and South America were divided, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans freely floated. The two tectonic plates beneath the surface of Earth were slowly colliding with each other, which forced the Pacific plate to slide beneath the Caribbean plate. The heat and pressure of this collision caused underwater volcanoes, and some even broke the ocean's surface, forming islands. For the next million years, more volcanic islands were formed. Meanwhile, these plates' movements also pushed the seafloor and forced a few regions above sea level.
Cocle and Cueva tribes were the first inhabitants of the country of Panama, however, the population gradually reduced. The first European to reach Panama was Rodrigo de Bastidas, who sailed from Venezuela to search for gold in 1501. After 10 years, Vasco Nunez de Balboa reached Panama and established a settlement in the town. From 1538-1821, the Isthmus of Panama became a part of the Spanish Empire. In 1849, the California Gold rush started, leading to an increase in the movement of people between the Atlantic and Pacific. Gold diggers were brought in a ship from an eastern United States port.
An isthmus is a very thin strip of land that connects two larger bodies of land and has water bodies on either side. Scientists believe that the Isthmus of Panama's formation played a major role in geological events on Earth over the past 60 million years. The Isthmus of Panama impacted the environment and climate of our Earth. As the flow of two oceans between landmasses closed, the land bridge re-routed the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans' currents. As the Atlantic separated from the Pacific, it got saltier, and Europe got warmer. Today's pattern of world ocean circulation is impacted by such changes.
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