General Information:

The Panama Canal is approximately 80 kilometers long and extends itself from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This waterway was cut through one of narrowest saddles of the Panamanian Isthmus joining North and South America.

Panama Canal Locks System                                                                                                    The Canal uses a system of locks -compartments with entrance and exit gates. The locks function as water lifts: they raise ships from sea level (the Pacific or the Atlantic) to the level of Gatun Lake (26 meters above sea level); ships then sail the channel through the Continental Divide. Each set of locks bears the name of the town site where it was built: Gatun (on the Atlantic side), and Pedro Miguel and Miraflores (on the Pacific side).The lock chambers -steps-- are 33.53 meters wide by 304.8 meters long.


Dimension of Ships passing through the Canal                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The maximum dimensions of ships that are in transit through the Canal are: 32.3 meters in beam; draft -their depth reach- 12 meters in Tropical Fresh Water; and 294.1 meters long (depending on the type of ship).

Water Levels used for the Canal

The water used to raise and lower vessels in each set of locks comes from Gatun Lake by gravity; it comes into the locks through a system of main culverts that extend under the lock chambers from the sidewalls and the center wall.


Narrowest Portion of the Canal

The narrowest portion of the Canal is Culebra Cut, which extends from the north end of Pedro Miguel Locks to the south edge of Gatun Lake at Gamboa. This segment, approximately 13.7 kilometers long, is carved through the rock and shale of the Continental Divide.

How many ships transit through the Canal?

Ships from all parts of the world transit daily through the Panama Canal; furthermore, some 13 to 14 thousand vessels use the Canal every year. The Panama Canal serves more than 144 maritime routes connecting 160 countries and reaching around 1,700 ports in the world.

Panama Canal Workforce

In regards to the workforce, the Canal has a work force of approximately 10 thousand employees and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing transit service to vessels of all nations without discrimination.