Happy 100th birthday to the Panamá Canal

Aug 15, 2014
The Panamá Canal
A GREAT ENGINEERING PROJECT: The Canal forever changed global trade patterns and sharply cut shipping times

The Panamá Canal, one of the great modern engineering projects that has been used by Nestlé to ship its goods for over three quarters of a century, turns 100 years old today.

Like many companies around the world, Nestlé delivers various goods, from milk to pet care products, to consumers faster and fresher by avoiding the need for much longer routes around the tip of South America.

By linking up the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through a series of massive lock systems, the Canal forever changed global trade patterns and sharply cut shipping times by many days and thousands of kilometers.

Over 1 million ships have traversed the roughly 80-kilometer (50-mile) Canal since the first ship passed through the channel on August 15, 1914.

Although the Canal is considered by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the project’s construction phase came with tremendous hardship.

Around 27,000 people are estimated to have died of mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria, and from work accidents during the Canal’s initial but aborted French phase of construction (1881-1894) and later during the US construction period (1904-1914).

Other facts about the Canal:

  • Around 5 percent of the world's traded goods pass through the Panamá Canal.
  • The lowest toll to date to transit the Canal was just 36 US cents, paid in 1928 by the American Richard Halliburton to swim the Canal.
  • The highest toll paid to date was from the cruise ship Norwegian Pearl in 2011 of 375,600 US dollars.
  • Fluorescent lighting was installed in 1963, allowing the Canal to operate 24 hours a day.
  • Highly effective sanitation measures that sharply reduced the deadly and debilitating effects of yellow fever and malaria among workers was critical to the success of the US construction of the Canal from 1904-1914.

Nestlé in Central America:

  • In region for over 70 years
  • Presence in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá
  • 4,800 employees

For more information about Nestlé Panamá’s upcoming digital album on the Canal, please visit Nestlé Central America's website (Spanish).