Nicaragua Canal competes with Panama

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Pacific Panama
The entrance to the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean.

The manmade Panama Canal cuts through the country of Panama in Central America, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It took a decade for the USA to complete it, from 1904-1914, and the massive project is still considered one of the greatest engineering successes in the world. Now, Russia and China are teaming up with the nearby country of Nicaragua to create a Nicaragua Canal that will allow bigger ships to pass through!

See, the Panama Canal is great for business, since it offers ships a shortcut so that they don’t have to travel all the way around the bottom of South America to go between the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. As ships continue growing larger and larger, they can carry greater loads of cargo at once, which saves companies from having to use multiple vessels. Nicaragua hopes to make a canal that’s 3 times bigger than Panama, which would definitely give them some fierce competition.

The way the 48-mile-long Panama Canal works is more complicated than just cruising through from point A to point B, which is why the Nicaragua Canal won’t be an easy thing to build. Basically, there’s these contraptions called “locks” that a ship enters, which are rectangular areas 110 feet wide, and 1,050 feet long. Once inside, the lock fills up with 26,700,000 gallons of water, lifting or lowering the boat like a water elevator to the next lock. So, in order for a ship to get through, it has to travel past several locks.

China Russia
China’s President Xi Jinping (left) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (right) often team up, not just because they’re neighbors, but also to compete with the USA and European Union for global influence. Both China and Russia have been accused of cyber warfare hacking in the USA, and this Nicaragua project is another move designed to expand their influence in an area often dominated by the USA.

Overall, the Panama Canal cost Americans $375,000,000, and was the single most expensive construction project in USA history at that time. As for the 173-mile-long Nicaragua Canal, which is being financed by the Hong Kong-based developer HKND Group, it’s projected to cost $40 billion, which is 4 times as much as the Central American country makes in a year.

Russia is also lending a hand, but they’re focused on providing security. Why is Russia getting involved? Well, they’ve been playing a global tug-of-war with the USA since they were part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the Cold War that went from 1946-1991.

Even though the Cold War ended in 1991 when the USSR split up into 15 countries, experts believe Russia is engaging in a modern Cold War by hacking USA energy supplies with cyber warfare, taking over regions of the pro-USA Ukraine (which used to be part of the USSR), and trying to seize influence in Syria. Now, Russia could very well end up building military bases in the Nicaragua region, not only placing them within striking distance of the USA, but also allowing them to send out spies more easily into nearby countries.


Featured image courtesy of Soerfm on Wikimedia. Image of Putin and Jinping courtesy of the Kremlin.