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 • 1 889

  • Wendover Productions
    Wendover Productions   5 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  2 months back

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

    • Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen
      Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen  3 months back

      What about goung North og Canada egen the ice melts

    • Proud Deplorable
      Proud Deplorable  3 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  3 months back

      Look how small Trinidad and Tobago looking

  • Crazy Cruzito
    Crazy Cruzito  7 hours back

    For ocean overland route, I am pretty sure more cargo goes into Huntington than LA. (Source, my uncle who is a Huntington dockhand)

    • relative pronouns and demonstrative pronouns

      "The single most important and influential waterways in the world"
      Suez canal: hold my water

      • GSGators
        GSGators  1 days back

        5600 people died making the canal? Thats wild.

        • Tony Vallés
          Tony Vallés  6 days back

          I saw my house in this video

          • SzopenPan
            SzopenPan  2 weeks back

            Stupid question; "26M above sea level" why this elevator system? digging 26M canal is more simple and low cost?

            • the protobe
              the protobe  2 weeks back

              are you saying sea has to float up to 26 meters above its sea level?

          • noConnect ifc
            noConnect ifc  2 weeks back

            Seems like a vulnerable spot to be sabotaged by some doomsday terror cult.
            Bringing down the world economy into depression.

            • Jonius7
              Jonius7  2 weeks back

              5:44 Trains, with their relatively low cost...

              Sees Wendover Productions video in the sidebar on why Trains are so Expensive.


              • Ameha K
                Ameha K  2 weeks back

                The Panama canal was made to fit the largest ship of the time: the titanic.

                • tgdwarf
                  tgdwarf  3 weeks back

                  You see!!!!

                  • carlos cardoso uchia
                    carlos cardoso uchia  3 weeks back


                    • Lone Wolf
                      Lone Wolf  3 weeks back

                      That Nicaragua thing is really complicated because the land is kinda rough... especially at the "shorter" western section... costs would probably be enormous

                      • Edward Gehringer
                        Edward Gehringer  3 weeks back

                        Why did you call the 1903 treaty "dubious"? Sounds like liberal bias to me!

                        • Dharsh Srinath
                          Dharsh Srinath  3 weeks back


                          • Tero256
                            Tero256  4 weeks back

                            Sweet video.

                            • boobio1
                              boobio1  4 weeks back

                              global warming will make it rain more in panama.

                              • Saurav Shukla
                                Saurav Shukla  4 weeks back

                                "5600 workers fatality later" you sounds like only American lives matter.

                                • UTubeGlennAR
                                  UTubeGlennAR  4 weeks back

                                  >^. .^< A non planned and un regulated Cannabalistic Capatolism planet like Earth may just one day eat it self out of house, home and a good future. I sure honestly hope I am wrong.......

                                  • Basit Khan
                                    Basit Khan  4 weeks back

                                    False information

                                    • Bluejanis
                                      Bluejanis  4 weeks back

                                      Why is the train route more expensive?
                                      Its the best solution, but apparently pricier. Why?

                                      • Bluejanis
                                        Bluejanis  4 weeks back

                                        Wait! There was a limit in width and length for the ships. What about height? Technically you can expand in height. Both above and below see level!

                                        • Bluejanis
                                          Bluejanis  4 weeks back

                                          Okay, width and length are mentioned in the beginning while height & weight only get mentioned at the end. No wonder I got surprised it wasnt mentioned together.

                                      • bksunsetlady
                                        bksunsetlady  1 months back

                                        New Jersyans enter the chat *thats why my taxes are so highhhhhh*

                                        • Madhura Naik
                                          Madhura Naik  1 months back

                                          You see
                                          He says that so much

                                          • Joks iZantos
                                            Joks iZantos  1 months back

                                            Do canal here in the Philippines, i expect it to be full of plastic

                                            • Metal Jacket
                                              Metal Jacket  1 months back

                                              Why would they use fresh water from the lake when they have two oceans on either side of the canal that "global warming" should supply with plenty of water in the future..and at present for that matter .

                                              • theralfinator
                                                theralfinator  4 weeks back

                                                @Metal Jacket True, there is probably a point where it would make more sense to pump in ocean water.

                                              • Metal Jacket
                                                Metal Jacket  4 weeks back

                                                @theralfinator well yeah , but at those prices they charge to move the ships through the canal , pumping water or simply letting the water in from both oceans when the levels of the oceans rise, seems more logical than waiting for fresh water to replenish in a lake that lacks water , wasting that fresh water to simply float a ship from one compartment to another through the locks . ..Using the global warming excuse of lack of fresh water , doesn't justify the cost , or the lack of technology , when the ocean levels increase ..its ridiculous to not see the benefits of using ocean water in large supply with the aid of pumps vs wasting fresh water that is small supply.

                                              • theralfinator
                                                theralfinator  4 weeks back

                                                My guess is that it's easier and cheaper to let gravity move water down from the lake than it is to use pumps to move water up from the ocean.

                                            • Americus Patrioticus
                                              Americus Patrioticus  1 months back

                                              Perhaps Trump should build a 200 to 300 foot wide canal along the US Mexico border. That would solve multiple problems. It would stem the influx of illegal aliens while providing a huge passageway for future shipping. The terrain for the most part is lower than the Panama Canal and contains the Rio Grande, so much of the digging is already done. While the initial cost would be high due to the length required for the canal, the future benefits would outweigh the costs. Both Mexico and the USA would reap tremendous profits from managing the canal.

                                              • george georgantas
                                                george georgantas  1 months back

                                                Well researched and interesting videos on this channel. You have 2m+ subscribers so should employ a voice actor to present this hard work in a less monotonous way.

                                                • Daniel HN
                                                  Daniel HN  1 months back

                                                  The amount of times you say "You see.." almost makes me go crazy lol
                                                  Yes, I do see!

                                                  • I Appreciate Slaps
                                                    I Appreciate Slaps  1 months back

                                                    But it's more risky to go through the Suez canal because of pirates

                                                    • Sunny Wu
                                                      Sunny Wu  1 months back

                                                      Why don't they just dig deeper until the 2 oceans connect directly?

                                                      • Soviet Spud
                                                        Soviet Spud  1 months back

                                                        its amazing how Western technology really *peacefully* or *forcefully* opened up world trade like this

                                                        • Michal Muransky
                                                          Michal Muransky  1 months back

                                                          Those mega-ships are the biggest polluters in the transportation industry. They are partly responsible for the climate change that prevents them from using the canal. cause and effect...

                                                          • Bob Finkenbiner
                                                            Bob Finkenbiner  1 months back

                                                            lets talk about science, technology and add in world commerce.... and oh by the way "climate change" will end everything and bring about doom and despair. all hope is lost, we need an emotional, fear based pseudoscience to solve all the tech issues... said every liberal who failed math, engineering or business classes.

                                                            • Tal Borovich
                                                              Tal Borovich  1 months back

                                                              Suez canal>>> panama canal

                                                              • Kip Coomer
                                                                Kip Coomer  1 months back

                                                                Its a great experience to go thru the canal

                                                                • Jean-Luc Martel
                                                                  Jean-Luc Martel  1 months back

                                                                  The US signed a rather dubious treaty and then sacrificed many no doubt totally impovrished and immigrant workers to the gods of capitalism. THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE US SUMMARIZED.

                                                                  • John Smith
                                                                    John Smith  1 months back

                                                                    If your going to unload a large ships to reload smaller ships your handing the cargo twice.
                                                                    Might a well ship to the west coast of America and load everything going to the east coast by rail train.

                                                                    • Bjornarmar
                                                                      Bjornarmar  1 months back

                                                                      Literally every single video:

                                                                      “Here’s a bunch of really interesting and engaging information about stuff you’ve probably never thought about.

                                                                      “Also global warming.”

                                                                      • John Smith
                                                                        John Smith  1 months back

                                                                        If Global warming would hurry up and get here the world could use Canada's new northern Pacific to Atlantic canal.

                                                                    • Christopher scott
                                                                      Christopher scott  1 months back

                                                                      OMG MY COUNTRY 😍🇵🇦

                                                                      • BlackShampoo75
                                                                        BlackShampoo75  1 months back

                                                                        Segway 2/10

                                                                        • Rat King
                                                                          Rat King  1 months back

                                                                          The Suez canal wants to know your location...

                                                                          • Hooli Fruli
                                                                            Hooli Fruli  1 months back

                                                                            this is for a container ship with 3600 containers...– $321,446 for the containers

                                                                            – $11,445 for the work of 7 tugboats

                                                                            – $4,745 for ground assistants

                                                                            – $3,600 for ground wires

                                                                            • CiaranAnything
                                                                              CiaranAnything  2 months back

                                                                              its pronounced bay-oh-nuh

                                                                              • gahpryel gahpryel
                                                                                gahpryel gahpryel  2 months back

                                                                                With all due respect for the quality content, you might want to consider adding the numbers listed in metric units also. Please.

                                                                                • dumb shit
                                                                                  dumb shit  2 months back

                                                                                  Suez canal joined the chat

                                                                                  Somoli pirates: heheheh

                                                                                  • Anthony Scali
                                                                                    Anthony Scali  2 months back

                                                                                    Panama can destroy the entire world.

                                                                                    • Jacob Stewart
                                                                                      Jacob Stewart  2 months back

                                                                                      A man, a plan, a canal. Panama! (drawkcab ti gnidaer yrt)

                                                                                      • nvstewart
                                                                                        nvstewart  2 months back

                                                                                        I took my rowing boat through the Panama Canal before today. They told me that because I don't have a shipping container connected I could go for free.

                                                                                        True story.