4 Fun Facts About the Panama Canal

August 12, 2013

Seeing the Panama Canal is a dream for many guests on IE'’s Panama tours. While the canal is currently being expanded, here are four interesting facts that you may not know about one of mankind’'s greatest feats of engineering.


The Panama Canal was built between 1904 and 1913 by 56,000 workers to connect the Atlantic and Pacific, but that is only the end of the story. Historically, explorers and merchants dreamed of connecting the Pacific and Atlantic via Panama beginning in 1513 with Vasco Nunez de Balboa. By 1883, the French had 20,000 laborers working to dig “La Grande Tranchee.”

As you probably guessed, everyone navigating the Panama Canal pays a toll to cross. The highest toll paid was $208,653, paid by a cruise ship in 2001. The lowest toll was 36 cents, paid by American athlete Richard Halliburton when he swam the canal in 1928.

Panama hats are made in Ecuador. The hat got its name because the hats were exported from Panama, and workers on the Panama Canal wore the hats. P.S. If you want to buy a Panama hat in Ecuador, check out IE's Ecuador tour!

You'’ll need your map for this one! The Atlantic entrance to the Canal is 22-1/2 miles west of the Pacific entrance. In fact, because the Isthmus of Panama is “S” shaped, the sun rises from the Pacific and sets over the Atlantic Ocean.