Panama Canal marks century of international trade

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Featuring a military band, traditional dance display and a cake weighing 230 kilograms, a party has been held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal.

Paying tribute to one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal’s administrator Jorge Quijano said the canal was operating at maximum capacity.

“Today, as we can see, the route continues to work without delays. Today is a normal working day and each day, an average of 35 vessels reduce their distance travelled between the Atlantic and the Pacific,” he said.

Since it was finished in 1914, the 71 kilometre long waterway has transformed international trade.

Ships have a 20 to 30 hour trip along the canal, but the alternative – around the tip of South America – is treacherous and takes much longer.

A 3.5 billion euro extension project is underway to allow much larger vessels to pass. However it has been delayed by disputes over the escalating cost.

The original Panama Canal took 13 years to complete and an estimated 30,000 workers died building it, many from malaria and yellow fever.

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