Central America from Space
Panama Canal - A 50-mile long engineering wonder connecting the Caribbean Sea
and the Pacific Ocean. Completed in 1914, it runs southeastward from Colon,
through the man-made Gatun Lake, to Panama City on the Pacific side of the
Isthmus of Panama. The canal, a major artery of international shipping, uses a
series of massive locks, manmade lakes, and water supplied by the copious
tropical rainfall of the region to lift and lower transiting ships a height of
85 feet over the continental divide. Thick rainforests border the canal, and the
protected Canal Zone is easily delineated by the dark green band of forest,
which contrast the lighter green cultivated areas of Panama. The ecologically
sensitive Canal Zone supports diverse lowland rainforest that is crucial for
water balance and erosion/siltation control around the canal. Scientists monitor
the edges of the Canal Zone rainforest for degradation from development
(NASA - International Space Station,
Yucatan Peninsula (NASA - March 2003).
(bottom), southern Florida (top) and the western edge of the
Cuba's capital, Havana, makes a grayish patch along the green, northern
coastline. The Gauniguanico Mountains dominate the western tip of the island,
and appear darker green than the coastal terrain. Across the Batabano Bay, the
dark green color of the peninsula is due to lush wetlands
(NASA - November 2002).
Geographic Guide - Travel American Continent.