Historical Events  Geography
Panama Canal

MMDE: East - West

Current: North West - South East


As strange as it sounds, some people are claiming they remember the Panama Canal being different when seen on today's maps from how they remember it.

It's apparently no longer running from North to South, the way they remember, and is now North West to South East. Some report Cuba being bigger and further East than they remember too.

The whole area has certainly had it's share of controversy in the past, from the Bay of Pigs through to Guantanamo Bay and Operation Just Cause.

There's a possible explanation when it comes to more accurate map making, plus the usual Mercator projection distortion arguments, but these seem to be different and are more like the New Zealand situation, where taking all that into account still results in an unexplained movement. 

Opened in 1914

Since the Panama Canal is the only way to get from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans through Central America, most assume it must run East-West. One observation is that the Suez Canal runs North to South - could that be what people are confusing this with, even thought the directions are different again? Also, if not correctly depicted on a globe, which many will have used to learn of it from, it might seem confusing:

panama canal lmap 221x195

Different memories

Many seem to be aware of the change -here's a YouTube comment:

I transited the Panama Canal in 1995 and I worked with the Navigator on the Bridge in the approach of the canal. My job was to calculate set and drift so I was plotting our course via navigation charts assisted by radar. I know it was West to East when we transited from San Diego to Norfolk because I was working with the Navigation charts. I remember this day so vividly because going through the canal was a big deal and it was surreal once in it. Obviously since we are no longer needed to navigate once in the canal we were able to be topside and watch as we went through it. It amazed me how it appeared from my vantage point that we were sailing on land. For me this is a personal ME and I can say with certainty this one is a change from what I experienced.

-- Alicia Joyce