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 • 1 857

  • 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  1 months back

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

    • Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen
      Karl Johan Felsager Jakobsen  2 months back

      What about goung North og Canada egen the ice melts

    • Proud Deplorable
      Proud Deplorable  2 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  2 months back

      Look how small Trinidad and Tobago looking

  • Daniel HN
    Daniel HN  14 hours 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  22 hours back

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

      • Sunny Wu
        Sunny Wu  1 days back

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

        • Soviet Spud
          Soviet Spud  3 days back

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

          • Michal Muransky
            Michal Muransky  4 days 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  4 days 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  4 days back

                Suez canal>>> panama canal

                • Kip Coomer
                  Kip Coomer  4 days back

                  Its a great experience to go thru the canal

                  • Jean-Luc Martel
                    Jean-Luc Martel  5 days 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  6 days 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  6 days 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  6 days 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  6 days back

                        OMG MY COUNTRY 😍🇵🇦

                        • BlackShampoo75
                          BlackShampoo75  1 weeks back

                          Segway 2/10

                          • Rat King
                            Rat King  1 weeks back

                            The Suez canal wants to know your location...

                            • Hooli Fruli
                              Hooli Fruli  2 weeks 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 weeks back

                                its pronounced bay-oh-nuh

                                • gahpryel gahpryel
                                  gahpryel gahpryel  2 weeks 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 weeks back

                                    Suez canal joined the chat

                                    Somoli pirates: heheheh

                                    • Anthony Scali
                                      Anthony Scali  2 weeks back

                                      Panama can destroy the entire world.

                                      • Jacob Stewart
                                        Jacob Stewart  3 weeks back

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

                                        • nvstewart
                                          nvstewart  3 weeks 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.

                                          • joseph-mario pelerin
                                            joseph-mario pelerin  3 weeks back

                                            if you really want to save on shipping cost, lets put the god damn sail back on !!!

                                            • joseph-mario pelerin
                                              joseph-mario pelerin  4 days back

                                              @John Smith ya, iguess you cant just walk into some crummy brothel, hiring all the greasy old man promising gold and rum anymore...

                                            • John Smith
                                              John Smith  5 days back

                                              @joseph-mario pelerin Your paying the crew by the day and your doing 5 knots the cost will build up.

                                            • joseph-mario pelerin
                                              joseph-mario pelerin  5 days back

                                              John Smith ya right, when you pay for fuel...

                                            • John Smith
                                              John Smith  6 days back

                                              Time is money.

                                          • joseph-mario pelerin
                                            joseph-mario pelerin  3 weeks back

                                            the planet cant handle much more than panama size need... why always, somebody somewhere have to get greedy and instead of sending two ship, they want to send one big one that cost triple to maintain and run just to save on crew member??!

                                            • lionn420
                                              lionn420  3 weeks back

                                              "no matter what happens it will continue as the worlds shortcut"..........BUT........what happens when global warming makes the passage through the north pole region a yr round option. WAY shorter from the Asian market to Europe......,and no tolls or weight limits. if the polar passage becomes yr round it would at the very least make the panama canal difficult to maintain a profit.

                                              • TcRiverrat18
                                                TcRiverrat18  3 weeks back

                                                I love this channel so much.

                                                • gia
                                                  gia  3 weeks back

                                                  Why is your voice like 2-3 semitones lower in these videos vs HAI videos lmao I’m tripping out

                                                  • Cobreezyy06
                                                    Cobreezyy06  3 weeks back

                                                    That’s not the butterfly effect... it’s cause and effect

                                                    • Cobreezyy06
                                                      Cobreezyy06  3 weeks back

                                                      Whoaa he breezed over that 5600 worker fatalities real quick

                                                      • Judy Hale
                                                        Judy Hale  3 weeks back

                                                        I have relatives in Bayonne, I didn’t realize the Panama Canal was the reason they remodeled that bridge!

                                                        • Lukeland
                                                          Lukeland  3 weeks back

                                                          Why Don't Thailand Make a Canal Through Their Thinest Sliver Of Land In The Malay Peninsula So That They Shorten The Time And Lower The Amount Of Resources Wasted Going Around The Peninsula?

                                                          • Rick Traveler Smith
                                                            Rick Traveler Smith  3 weeks back

                                                            Bay ohn
                                                            NOT Bay ahn

                                                            • Rick Traveler Smith
                                                              Rick Traveler Smith  3 weeks back

                                                              Pan uh mah
                                                              NOT pan uh muh

                                                              • infinitecanadian
                                                                infinitecanadian  3 weeks 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  4 weeks 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 weeks 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  4 weeks back

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

                                                                      • Hardtop Harry
                                                                        Hardtop Harry  4 weeks 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  4 weeks 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  4 weeks back


                                                                            • Arthur Heidt
                                                                              Arthur Heidt  1 months back

                                                                              panama canal sucks seasnakes are entering the atlantic over it

                                                                              • Eriq Affandi
                                                                                Eriq Affandi  1 months 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  1 months back

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

                                                                                  • hiccup22
                                                                                    hiccup22  1 months back


                                                                                    • KingDave Durosier
                                                                                      KingDave Durosier  1 months back

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

                                                                                      • Katie K
                                                                                        Katie K  1 months 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  1 months back

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

                                                                                      • Jeremy Cornwell
                                                                                        Jeremy Cornwell  1 months back

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

                                                                                      • Leaky Punt
                                                                                        Leaky Punt  1 months 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.