Panama Canal

This passage discusses the construction of the Panama Canal.

Lexile Level: 680L

Categories: History People & Places


The Isthmus of Panama is a narrow piece of land in Central America. On one side is the Pacific Ocean, and on the other side is the Atlantic Ocean. In 1880, the French started trying to dig a canal from one side to the other. This canal would allow ships to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific much quicker. To travel between the two oceans, ships had to go all the way around the tip of South America. This took a long time. While building, the French had problems with malaria and yellow fever. Many people working on the canal died. The design was not working, so the French gave up. In 1903, the United States secured the right to build a canal in Panama. The Americans learned from the French's earlier problems. They sent doctors down to deal with sickness. They designed a new route and a new canal. It took ten years to complete. At least 70,000 people worked on the project. Today, ships make their way through the canal from one ocean to the other.


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