Featured this Month
Across a narrow stretch of land in Central America the Panama Canal works its way through tropical rain forests rising and falling by steps through the high country of the Continental Divide. This engineering marvel is a fifty-mile long waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Republic of Panama. By navigating this route ships can avoid thousands of miles and weeks of travel from the long ocean voyage around South America. Since its completion by the United States over a hundred years ago vessels of every type have made the crossing in more than a million transits between the seas.
The Panama Canal became a symbol of American military strength as well as the national identity of Panama. It has been said that the canal is the reason for Panama’s existence today. But the issue of who should own the canal turned into one of the most contested foreign policy debates in U.S. history. Testing both countries would be the growing pains of Panama’s struggle for democracy. In the midst of widespread dispute, why did the United States, one of the most powerful nations on earth, turn over to Panama, one of the smallest and least-developed countries, the most valuable waterway in the Western Hemisphere… and how did it happen?