The Panama Canal is a 48 mile long shipping channel connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. The concept of a canal in Panama dates to the early 16th century. The first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under the French leadership of Ferdinand de Lesseps. But the French abandoned the project after 21,900 workers died, largely from disease, particularly malaria and yellow fever, and landslides. The United States,under the leadership of President Teddy Roosevelt, bought out the French equipment and excavations for $40 million and launched a second effort, incurring a further 5,600 deaths but succeeding in opening the canal in 1914. A great book on the history and development of the canal is “The Path Between the Seas” by David McCullough.