Panama Canal Centennial

Panama City, Panama, August 15, 2014 – The Panama Canal celebrated 100 years in operation.

The Panama Canal is run by Panama Canal Authority (ACP), autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal.

Fast Facts

  • Joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
  • Located on the Isthmus of Panama, one of the narrowest pieces of land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
  • Coordinates 9 00 N, 80 00 W
  • Approximately 51 nautical miles, sparing the long and dangerous 8,000-nautical-mile trip around South America’s Cape Horn
  • Operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • The Panama Canal has three sets of locks – Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores – each of which has two lanes. These locks serve as lifts, elevating vessels 85 feet above sea level from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans to Gatun Lake.
  • Currently expanding the canal with additional locks
  • Run by Panama Canal Authority (ACP), an autonomous agency of the government of Panama
  • More than 922,000 vessels have transited the waterway since the Panama Canal opened on August 15, 1914
  • The average transit takes 8-10 hours. Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the Canal, including waiting time for passage, is 24.58 hours
  • Six percent of the world’s trade travels through the canal every year, accounting for roughly 400 million tons of goods.



  • 1850 – United States and Great Britain negotiated the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty for a proposed canal through the Central American Republic of Nicaragua.
  • 1901 The Hay-Pauncefote Treaty canceled the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, freeing the United States to build and manage its own canal
  • 1903 U.S. military force supported Panamanian revolutionaries in their quest for independence from Colombia
  • May 4, 1904, Panama granted the United States the right to build and operate the canal and control the five miles of land on either side of the water passage
  • 1904 – 1914 – Construction of the Canal overseen by Army Corps of Engineers
  • August 15, 1914 – Canal opened to traffic
  • 1960s Increase in Panamanian calling for sovereignty over the Canal Zone
  • September 7, 1977 – President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian Chief of Government Omar Torrijos signed the Panama Canal Treaty and Neutrality Treaty, also known as the Carter-Torrijos Treaty
  • On December 31, 1999, the Commission’s duties and sovereignty over the canal were transferred to the Republic of Panama, upon the termination of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977.
  • October 2006 – Panama approves plans for expansion
  • August 8, 2014 – Panamax 2014, an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored multinational exercise focused on ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal

Works Consulted

“Building the Panama Canal.” Accessed August 19, 2014.

Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. “Panama Canal Treaty, 1977.” Accessed August 19, 2014.

“Federal Register | Panama Canal Commission.” Accessed August 20, 2014.

Panama Canal Authority (ACP). “News – Panama Canal Celebrates 100 Years Connecting the World.” Canal de Panama. Accessed August 19, 2014.

“The World Factbook. ‘Panama.'” Accessed August 19, 2014.

“Today in History: September 7.” Accessed August 19, 2014.