(Detailed PDF Map)
Main Components of the Panama Canal
In 2016, the expansion of the canal was completed with two new sets of locks brought online. The Panama Canal system is composed of two lock systems, the old locks (built in 1914) and the expanded locks (built in 2016). On the Atlantic side, the Gatun (1914) and Agua Clara (2016) locks link the Caribbean Sea and Lake Gatun. On the Pacific side, the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks (1914) and the Cocoli Locks (2016) link lake Gatun to the Pacific Ocean. The Culebra Cut (Gaillard Cut) represents the line of continental divide and was the main capacity restriction of the canal system since it could only handle one ship at a time before the expansion. After the 2016 expansion, the Culebra Cut is able to accommodate two ships at once. To supply this system of locks a large amount of water is required, a purpose fulfilled by the artificially created Lake Gatun, which level is controlled by the Gatun Dam and also supplied by the Alajuela Lake. Running parallel to the canal is the Panama Canal Railway designed to absorb the extra traffic generated by ships too large to use the facilities as well as moving containers between the Atlantic and Pacific terminals without the need to pay the canal toll. The Panama Canal is under the jurisdiction of the Panama Canal Authority which controls an area that used to be called the Panama Canal Zone, an extraterritorial entity that was controlled by the United States until its retrocession to Panama in 1999.