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In 1825 a group of American businessmen announced the formation of a new canal building company with interests in constructing the first canal system across the Isthmus This project was to take place in an area that we now called Panama The endeavor was filled with controversy Though the canal itself was not built until the early 1900s every step toward the building and ownership was saturated with difficulty The construction of the canal would not be easy the French made an attempt and failed Workers had to deal with mosquito infestation terrible mud slides and also the malaria virus In 1878 Ferdinand de Lesseps the French engineer who built the Suez canal began work on a canal on the same site as todays Panama Canal The outbreak of tropical disease and engineering problems soon halted all construction on the canal but a French business still held the rights to the project The United states acquired the rights to the area for a payment of 40 million dollars to the French and 10 million to the Panamanians and also a guarantee for Panamas independence Soon after America had full control of what is today called the canal zone President Roosevelt ordered thousands of army workers to begin work on the canal and realized that this would be no easy task The Panama Canal joins the Atlantic and Pacific oceans It runs from Cristobal on Lemon bay a part of the Caribbean sea to Balboa on the Gulf of Panama The canal is slightly more than 64 km long and this does not include the dredged approach channels at either end It takes about 9 days to complete the journey through all 51 miles of the canal but on a trip from New York Harbor to San Francisco Bay the Panama Canal can save a ship the 18000 miles it would normally take to sail all the way around South America The minimum
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