The Panama Canal: Effects on Culture and Society The Panama Canal was primarily created to serve a shortcut for the transportation of goods between the western continents and Eurasia. It aimed to cause a significant reduction in the length of the trade route around the southern South America that already existed by about a margin of 8000 miles. It opened in 1914, and facilitated approximately 922,000 oceangoing transits and causing a great reduction in the voyages of not only cruises but also cargo ships. A good example is that of cruise ships which in winter save weeks as they move in the Caribbean and in summers the route is shortened towards Alaska. Initially it was the French who attempted to construct the canal in 1881, but due to certain issues, like engineering failures, cost overruns as well as epidemics of tropical illness the project was abandoned.
In 1904 the US took over and not only built the canal but eradicated yellow fever and malaria in the area. The cost incurred for the canal construction was $ 375 million by the US (Enock, 2010). Not only was the Panama canal one of the largest investments of its time but it also produced a significant amount of social return for the United states in its first decade of operation.
A main contributing factor for this was because of the transportation of petroleum from East Coast to California. A certain percentage of this return was accrued to the Panamanian economy. However the US policies purposely made it so as to minimize any effects resulting from the Canal on the Panamanian economy. This was primarily done by limiting ability of the Panamanian businesses to sell their goods or services in the Canal Zone.
Furthermore employment of the Panamanian workers was also limited with force being exerted in accepting low payment of the territory of the Canal; A major exception being the American anti-malarial campaign (Maurer & Yu, 2006). It is also imperative to note the effect of the Panama Canal on the development of global economy resulting fro the increase in the international trade dependencies increasing. The Panama Canal benefited the society at large mostly due to the reduction in shipping costs and transportation time that it resulted in.
According to numerous reports by the Panama Canal Authority 2007 the Canal generated about $1.8 billion of net revenue. Also for neighboring countries benefits such as, development of private businesses and import and export industries increased (Wampler, 2011). As far as the collaboration and participation that took place in order for the Panama Canal to come together a lot of work had to be done on the cultural interface. Working on a project of such a large scale resulted in gaining an understanding of and the interpretation of meaning that were attached by the Panamanian to cultural manifestations, the values held by the public and their individual interests.
References Maurer, N. and Yu, C. (2006). The economic impact of the Panama Canal. Harvard Business school. Wampler, T. (2011). How does the Panama Canal Affect the Economy of Latin America & the world? . Web. Retrieved from: http: //www. ehow. com/facts_5526321_panama-latin-america-amp-world. html Enock, C. (2010). The Panama Canal – It’s Past Present and Future. Read Books Design. 2010. Hardcover, 264 pages