The Panama Canal is an American-built waterway completed in 1914. Because of the outbreak of World War I, plans for a grand opening were cancelled. Opening festivities became a modest local affair. The Panama Railway steamship SS Ancon made the first official transit of the canal on August 15, 1914.

Specifically, the canal goes across the Isthmus of Panama, and it connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The 48-mile-long passage was created as an important shortcut for ships; after the canal was constructed, a vessel sailing between New York and California was able to bypass the long journey around the tip of South America and trim nearly 8,000 miles from its voyage. The Panama Canal, which uses a system of locks to lift ships 85 feet above sea level, was the largest engineering project of its time.

Now, hailed as one of the great achievements of the 20th Century, the Panama Canal connects 160 countries and 1,700 ports around the world.

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