The World's Shortcut: How the Panama Canal Works

  • Published: 02 July 2019
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    Animation by Josh Sherrington
    Sound by Graham Haerther (
    Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster

    Special thanks to Patreon supporters Adam Chelminski, Arkadiy Kulev, Charles Zilinski, Chris Allen, Connor J Smith, Daddy Donald, Etienne Dechamps, Eyal Matsliah, Hank Green, John & Becki Johnston, Kyle, MyNameIsKir, Plinio Correa, Qui Le, Remi_Scarlet, Tom Dooner, Tyler Hamm, and Vaughn Mudrick

    Music by
    Select footage courtesy the AP Archive


Comments • 1 824

  • Wendover Productions
    Wendover Productions   3 months back

    I hope you found this video interesting! If you're looking for more Wendover Productions content, we recently started a podcast called Extremities. It's all about the world's most isolated places with the first season focusing on Pitcairn--the tiny British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific with a population of 50. You can listen to that on any major podcasting app or all the links are here:

    • Octopus
      Octopus  3 weeks back

      Can you please do one on how ships get to states like Minnesota

    • Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen
      Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen  4 weeks back

      What about goung North og Canada egen the ice melts

    • Proud Deplorable
      Proud Deplorable  1 months back

      Do a video about HAARP and weather modification as well. It appears you are really interested in the weather and weather modification is 100 percent proven. Ever heard of seeding clouds for rain? That's just the start.

    • aziz ali
      aziz ali  1 months back

      Look how small Trinidad and Tobago looking

  • Rick Traveler Smith
    Rick Traveler Smith  1 days back

    Bay ohn
    NOT Bay ahn

    • Rick Traveler Smith
      Rick Traveler Smith  1 days back

      Pan uh mah
      NOT pan uh muh

      • infinitecanadian
        infinitecanadian  2 days back

        It is so hypocritical how the U.S.A. wanted to control the Panama Canal and yet bitched about it when it was nationalized from the British and French and they retaliated.

        • Kolby Richardson
          Kolby Richardson  3 days back

          5 mins in and still no talking about how it works. Do not title it How the Panama Canal Works if you do not plan to devote the time to it.

          • EASYTIGER10
            EASYTIGER10  4 days back

            Why can't they just pump the water from the bottom lock on the Atlantic side back up to the lake rather than let it flow into the ocean?

            • Death B. Grapes
              Death B. Grapes  7 days back

              Freeport is operated by Hutchinson from Hong Kong
              I thought you said it was free

              • Hardtop Harry
                Hardtop Harry  7 days back

                Very informative. Thanks for this. I have often wondered how the canals worked - very similar to the small canals in England - I found it difficult to conceive of the scale. Thanks for this great production.
                I would be very interested to know how the canals served shipping during the world wars. A future project perhaps?

                • Fred Stiening
                  Fred Stiening  7 days back

                  Not every container headed to the interior of the United States is going through New Jersey. A large chunk of the traffic goes to Chicago. A flat map hides that the distances are much shorter up North than at the equator. On top of that, going nonstop at 70 mph cuts weeks from transit times, even though it means offloading containers and reloading them on ships on the East Coast

                  • IG laggmania
                    IG laggmania  1 weeks back


                    • Arthur Heidt
                      Arthur Heidt  1 weeks back

                      panama canal sucks seasnakes are entering the atlantic over it

                      • Eriq Affandi
                        Eriq Affandi  2 weeks back

                        When I played HOI4 and I heard Panama Canal, I make sure to invade the owner, so I can have Panama Canal, then I blow it in case of war.

                        I play as Unitary Canada btw :)

                        • domino diamond
                          domino diamond  2 weeks back

                          What if they just dug the trench clean across and let the oceans mix

                          • hiccup22
                            hiccup22  2 weeks back


                            • KingDave Durosier
                              KingDave Durosier  2 weeks back

                              Who operates the ports of Haiti ? Can they get some love?

                              • Katie K
                                Katie K  2 weeks back

                                Jamaican here. None of the big companies. In order of ranking, Kingston, Caucedo in the Dominican Republic and Freeport in the Bahamas and are three of the major transhipment ports in the Caribbean, and by extent the entire Americas. In comparison, Haiti barely handles any cargo and thus isn't very attractive for investment.

                            • Jeremy Cornwell
                              Jeremy Cornwell  2 weeks back

                              Show lack of corrector, you over charge easements to operate and still goods.

                              • Jeremy Cornwell
                                Jeremy Cornwell  2 weeks back

                                If goods stay on ship, less likely to be stole.

                              • Leaky Punt
                                Leaky Punt  3 weeks back

                                Calculated 8 billion pounds into ship tonnage you will get a brain hemorrhage. METRIC its been around for more 200 years ,99% of the world would understand it for fuck sake.

                                • Teemu
                                  Teemu  3 weeks back


                                  • Patrice VonParis
                                    Patrice VonParis  3 weeks back


                                    • Chairman Meow
                                      Chairman Meow  3 weeks back

                                      Its awful that 5600 people died building it, but at least they died building something to the benefit of all mankind.

                                      • Deep Fried
                                        Deep Fried  3 weeks back

                                        Global warming LOL

                                        • mark anderson
                                          mark anderson  3 weeks back

                                          hey dipshits at youtube.....why would anyone pay for commercial free premium account when you allow commercials on these soon as I see a commercial...I go to the next video

                                          • Donell Giorgio
                                            Donell Giorgio  3 weeks back

                                            We transited here last 2 days ago... yay 😃😃😃😃😃

                                            • Moa Damnit
                                              Moa Damnit  3 weeks back

                                              'You See'

                                              • Gaylon Kent
                                                Gaylon Kent  3 weeks back

                                                The announcer's pronunciation is tedius to listen to.

                                                • Island Aerial
                                                  Island Aerial  3 weeks back

                                                  Aaaand there it is, a 'climate change' reference. Why?

                                                  • PoodleScone
                                                    PoodleScone  3 weeks back

                                                    Nicaragua could just have two deep water ports on each side of the country connected to a short railway.

                                                    • theislandsc
                                                      theislandsc  3 weeks back

                                                      You forgot to mention the part where Jimmy Carter just gave away the canal.

                                                      • Vlad Tepes
                                                        Vlad Tepes  3 weeks back

                                                        thanks for helping us reaching earth much quicker.

                                                        • Rock Fish
                                                          Rock Fish  3 weeks back

                                                          Just pump water in the lake feom the ocean

                                                          • Alphonso ButlakIV
                                                            Alphonso ButlakIV  3 weeks back

                                                            I was hoping we could scrap the border wall and just mine the boarder strip untill we've dug enough to run a canal there, and that would just be a byproduct of the boarder update.

                                                            • Ezekiel Graeme
                                                              Ezekiel Graeme  4 weeks back

                                                              Nope, they won't need more canal capacity. Climate change is melting the arctic which will become the primary shipping lane of the late 21st century.

                                                              • Michin Sin
                                                                Michin Sin  4 weeks back

                                                                This was freaking fascinating.
                                                                Really wonder how the future looks though, considering climate change and all.
                                                                PS: The big ass "NO SMOKING" Sign at 9:10 was kinda funny.

                                                                • Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen

                                                                  What about goung North og Canada egen the ice melts

                                                                  • Bobspineable
                                                                    Bobspineable  4 weeks back

                                                                    At 6:32 you can see Newark Airport, therefore planes are in this video.

                                                                    • IronAperture
                                                                      IronAperture  4 weeks back

                                                                      If building and operating the water channels is so expensive. And secondly, if trains are a competition, and ships land in Los Angeles where all the cargo is transfered to the cargo trains. Why not to build a rail instead in Nicaragua for the short distance?

                                                                      • DSM DALLAS 2
                                                                        DSM DALLAS 2  4 weeks back

                                                                        Blahh blahh blahh shush! Enjoy the video and STFU! Great video, very informative and visuals.

                                                                        • Truth and beauty
                                                                          Truth and beauty  4 weeks back

                                                                          Seems like climate change will have geopolitical impacts that benefit the US - limiting Chinese trade

                                                                          Also thawing northern ice to facilitate access to arctic oil and ressources

                                                                          • Daniel
                                                                            Daniel  2 weeks back

                                                                            not really, if panama chokes even more ships will go through suez

                                                                        • elizabeth green
                                                                          elizabeth green  4 weeks back

                                                                          Wow! Great stuff!

                                                                          • Hugheszie
                                                                            Hugheszie  1 months back

                                                                            The canal only effects the american continent, Europe is fine, they can ship between themselves just fine.

                                                                            • Burt Reynolds
                                                                              Burt Reynolds  1 months back

                                                                              fuck jimmy carter

                                                                              • Frank Otte
                                                                                Frank Otte  1 months back

                                                                                Most annoying music background track ever. Sounds like phone ringing nonstop.

                                                                                • quadziorr
                                                                                  quadziorr  1 months back

                                                                                  I don't know if they are but they could use some generators during locking the ships. Then they could use energy to pump some water back to the lake or just sell that energy.

                                                                                  • djpgamer7
                                                                                    djpgamer7  1 months back

                                                                                    No, they raised the Bayonne bridge already.

                                                                                    • A L
                                                                                      A L  1 months back

                                                                                      A few Caribbean countries will benefit and I'm assuming that the owners of such ports will take a large chunk of the monies back to their respective countries.

                                                                                      • Katie K
                                                                                        Katie K  2 weeks back

                                                                                        No. What he failed to mention is that we're making large investments in infrastructure for value-added logistics. It will benefit people a ton and grow our economies very quickly. In fact, the change has already begun and a lot of construction is going on all over.

                                                                                        Also, not all companies making investments are foreign companies. Some are local logistics companies. There are also public private partnerships, so part of it will definitely go to the government.

                                                                                        Countries like mine have also made large investments in other areas such as airport infrastructure, including the creation of an aerotropolis, which he also didn't mention.

                                                                                    • BobNobod
                                                                                      BobNobod  1 months back

                                                                                      Just delete Panama

                                                                                    • 859_ evo
                                                                                      859_ evo  1 months back

                                                                                      "Smaller ~SIZE~"