The history of the Panama Canal goes back to 16th century.
the riches of Peru, Ecuador, and Asia, and counting the time it
took the gold to reach the ports of Spain, it was suggested c.1524
to Charles V, that by cutting out a piece of land somewhere in Panama,
the trips would be made shorter and the risk of taking the treasures
through the isthmus would justify such an enterprise. A survey of
the isthmus was ordered and subsequently a working plan for a canal
was drawn up in 1529. The wars in Europe and the thirsts for the
control of kingdoms in the Mediterranean Sea simply put the project
on permanent hold.
In 1534 a Spanish official suggested a canal route close to that
of the now present canal. Later, several other plans for a canal
were suggested, but no action was taken. The Spanish government
subsequently abandoned its interest in the canal.
In the early 19th century the books of the German scientist Alexander
von Humboldt revived interest in the project, and in 1819 the Spanish
government formally authorized the construction of a canal and the
creation of a company to build it. The discovery of gold in California
in 1848 and the rush of would-be miners stimulated Americas interest
in digging the canal.
Various surveys were made between 1850 and 1875 showed that only
two routes were practical, the one across Panama and another across
Nicaragua. In 1876 an international company was organized; two years
later it obtained a concession from the Colombian government to
dig a canal across the isthmus. The international company failed,
and in 1880 a French company was organized by Ferdinand Marie de
Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal.
In 1879, de Lesseps proposed a sea level canal through Panama. With
the success he had with the construction of the Suez Canal in Egypt
just ten years earlier, de Lesseps was confident he would complete
the water circle around the world.
Time and mileage would be dramatically reduced when traveling from
the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean or vice versa. For example, it
would save a total of 18,000 miles on a trip from New York to San
Although de Lesseps was not an engineer, he was appointed chairman
for the construction of the Panama Canal. Upon taking charge, he
organized an International Congress to discuss several schemes for
constructing a ship canal. De Lesseps
opted for a sea-level canal based on the construction of the Suez
Canal. He believed that if a sea-level canal worked when constructing
the Suez Canal, it must work for the Panama Canal.
In 1899 the US Congress created an Isthmian Canal Commission to
examine the possibilities of a Central American canal and to recommend
a route. The commission first decided on a route through Nicaragua,
but later reversed its decision. The Lesseps company offered its
assets to the United States at a price of $40 million. The United
States and the new state of Panama signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla
treaty, by which the United States guaranteed the independence of
Panama and secured a perpetual lease on a 10-mile strip for the
canal. Panama was to be compensated by an initial payment of $10
million and an annuity of $250,000, beginning in 1913. This strip
is now known as the Canal Zone.
The Panama Canal was recently turned over local control. Source
History The recorded history of Paraguay began indirectly
in 1516 with the failed
expedition of Juan Díaz de Solís to the Río de
la Plata Estuary, which divides Argentina and Uruguay. After Solís's
death at the hands of Indians, the expedition renamed the estuary
Río de Solís and sailed back to Spain. On the home voyage,
one of the vessels was wrecked off Santa Catarina Island near the
Brazilian coast. Among the survivors was Aleixo García, a Portuguese
adventurer who had acquired a working knowledge of Guaraní.
García was intrigued by reports of "the White King"
who, it was said, lived far to the west and governed cities of incomparable
wealth and splendor. For nearly eight years, García patiently
mustered men and supplies for a trip to the interior and finally left
Santa Catarina with several European companions to raid the dominions
of "El Rey Blanco."
Marching westward, García's group discovered Iguazú
Falls, crossed the Río Paraná, and arrived at the site
of Asunción thirteen years before it was founded. There the
group gathered a small army of 2,000 Guaraní warriors to assist
the invasion and set out boldly across the Chaco, a harsh semidesert.
In the Chaco, they faced drought, floods, and cannibal Indian tribes.
García became the first European to cross the Chaco and penetrated
the outer defenses of the Inca Empire to the foothills of the Andes
Mountains in present-day Bolivia, eight years in advance of Francisco
Pizarro. The García entourage engaged in plundering and amassed
a considerable horde of silver. Only fierce attacks by the reigning
Inca, Huayna Cápac, convinced García to withdraw. Indian
allies later murdered García and the other Europeans, but news
of the raid on the Incas reached the Spanish explorers on the coast
and attracted Sebastian Cabot to the Río Paraguay two years