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 • 1 886

  • Wendover Productions
    Wendover Productions   4 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

  • Tony Vallés
    Tony Vallés  1 days back

    I saw my house in this video

    • SzopenPan
      SzopenPan  1 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  6 days back

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

    • noConnect ifc
      noConnect ifc  1 weeks back

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

      • Jonius7
        Jonius7  1 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  2 weeks back

            You see!!!!

            • carlos cardoso uchia
              carlos cardoso uchia  2 weeks back


              • Lone Wolf
                Lone Wolf  2 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  2 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  3 weeks back

                      Sweet video.

                      • boobio1
                        boobio1  3 weeks back

                        global warming will make it rain more in panama.

                        • Saurav Shukla
                          Saurav Shukla  3 weeks back

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

                          • UTubeGlennAR
                            UTubeGlennAR  3 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  3 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  4 weeks back

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

                                  • Madhura Naik
                                    Madhura Naik  4 weeks back

                                    You see
                                    He says that so much

                                    • Joks iZantos
                                      Joks iZantos  4 weeks back

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

                                      • Metal Jacket
                                        Metal Jacket  4 weeks 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  4 weeks 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  4 weeks 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  4 weeks 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  4 weeks back

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

                                              • Sunny Wu
                                                Sunny Wu  4 weeks 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  1 months back

                                                                        its pronounced bay-oh-nuh

                                                                        • gahpryel gahpryel
                                                                          gahpryel gahpryel  1 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.

                                                                                  • joseph-mario pelerin
                                                                                    joseph-mario pelerin  2 months back

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

                                                                                    • joseph-mario pelerin
                                                                                      joseph-mario pelerin  1 months 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  1 months 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  1 months back

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

                                                                                    • John Smith
                                                                                      John Smith  1 months back

                                                                                      Time is money.

                                                                                  • joseph-mario pelerin
                                                                                    joseph-mario pelerin  2 months 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  2 months 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.