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International Shipping through the Panama Canal

Jul 25, 2008
In 1492, an Italian adventurer sailing under the flag of Spain accidentally discovered a new land mass while trying to find a different way to travel to Asia from the western shores of Europe. Believing the world to be round, Christopher Columbus ignored the conventional wisdom and warnings of his peers and sailed into history. His three ships, loaded with items earmarked for trade, were actually the first international shipping vessels to travel from Europe to America. They began a trend that would build a new world power and develop two new continents into partners in world commerce.

For the next three hundred years, international shipping to the Americas became a race between the English, Spanish and French to see who could colonize and develop the new world first. Cargos were made up of people, domestic animals and supplies to build new homes and cities along the coast and inland to the Appalachian Mountains. Door to door international shipping meant delivering goods to a wooden dock or sandy beach and transporting them inland by horse and cart or hauled on people's backs to their new home.

In 1776, the United States declared itself an independent nation and international shipping became international trade. After the War of 1812, the United States began to assume its position among its European counterparts, providing natural and manufactured goods to the very nations that had once colonized the new continent and even fought for the right to control it. Spain, and its sister country Portugal, continued their colonization and explorations and developed the areas known as Central and South America.

The Spanish and Portuguese development of South America created new international shipping needs for settlements that stretched further and further south and west across the continent. It had been learned in the sixteenth century that the massive land mass that Columbus had discovered had no break in it that ships could travel through to get to the other side. An Englishman named Magellan had found the far southern tip of South America and traveled around but the voyage was long and dangerous and ships and cargos were not always guaranteed to make it to their destination.

It wasn't until the early twentieth century that the problem was addressed and solved by the building of the Panama Canal. International shipping in the western hemisphere was changed forever. The ability to be able to travel from the east coast of the continent to the west without going all the way around the horn became a contributing factor in the rapid growth of commerce and technology in the United States and throughout North and South America.

Today, express trains and cargo planes have changed the world of international shipping and made it a much faster and efficient business. The days of sailing ships and adventures into a new world are gone but the contributions of men like Columbus and Magellan will never be forgotten. The Panama Canal still stands and is vital to international shipping. If it had been there in 1492, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria might have actually made it to Asia.
About the Author
Nir Dotan is a writer and promoter of
International Shipping services, and
Omega Shipping Local as well as International Moving.
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