Why was the United States in far better position than any other country to build the Panama Canal?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are three main reasons why the United States was in a much better position to build the Panama Canal than any other country.

First, the US had more of an incentive to build the canal than any other country.  The US was the only militarily powerful country that was likely to have a need to move ships between the Atlantic and Pacific by way of the Isthmus of Panama.  It was also the country that was most likely to benefit economically from a canal as that would facilitate trade between its east and west coasts.

Second, the US was closer to Panama than any other rich country.  The French and the British had both considered building a canal in Panama.  However, those countries were much farther away and therefore less well positioned to undertake large projects in Panama.

Finally, the US was well-positioned to build the canal because of its involvement in Panama’s independence.  The US was instrumental in allowing Panama to break away from Colombia.  Therefore, the Panamanians were indebted to the US and were more likely to be agreeable to the US’s demands with regard to the canal.

For these reasons, the US was in a better position than any other country to build this canal.

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