The Panama Canal is a major ship canal that traverses the Isthmus of Panama in Central America, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Construction of the canal was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. It has had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, obviating the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. Although the concept of a canal near Panama dates back to the early 16th century, the first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership. After this attempt failed and saw 22,000 workers die, the project of building a canal was attempted and completed by the United States in Panama in the early 1900s, with the canal opening in 1914. The building of the 77 km (48 mi) canal was plagued by problems, including disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. By the time the canal was completed, a total of 27,500 workers are estimated to have died in the French and U.S. attempts. (wikipedia)

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