The Canal

One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans. From 1979 to 1999 the canal was under joint U.S.–Panamanian administration, and from 31 December 1999 command of the waterway was assumed by the Panama Canal Authority, an agency of the Panamanian government. Changes in shipping patterns—particularly the increasing numbers of larger ships—will necessitate changes to the canal. An enlargement scheme to allow for a greater number of transits and the ability to handle larger ships, has been approved by the government of Panama, and is in progress, with completion expected in 2014.