The Panama Canal is an artificial 82 km (51 mi) waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a conduit for maritime trade. Canal locks are at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 m (85 ft) above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. The original locks are 34 m (110 ft) wide. A third, wider lane of locks was constructed between September 2007 and May 2016. The expanded canal began commercial operation on June 26, 2016. The new locks allow transit of larger, post-Panamax ships, capable of handling more cargo.
France began work on the canal in 1881, but stopped due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate. The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan.
Colombia, France, and later the United States controlled the territory surrounding the canal during construction. The US continued to control the canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone until the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treatiesprovided for handover to Panama. After a period of joint American–Panamanian control, in 1999, the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government. It is now managed and operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority.
Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón (Spanish for "lemon"), is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón (county) of Limón in Costa Rica. It is the second largest city in Costa Rica, with a population of over 55,000, and is home of the Afro-Costa Rican community. Part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón. Until 1948, the Costa Rican government did not recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and restricted their movement outside Limón province. As a result of this "travel ban", this Afro-Caribbean population became firmly established in the region, which influenced decisions not to move even after it was legally permitted. Nowadays, there is a significant outflow of Limón natives who move to the country's Central Valley in search for better employment and education. The Afro-Caribbean community speaks Spanish and Limonese Creole, a creole of English.
Puerto Limón contains two port terminals, Limón and Moín, which permit the shipment of Costa Rican exports as well as the anchoring of cruise ships. In 2016, the government pledged ₡93 million ($166,000) for a new cruise ship terminal for Puerto Limón.
Health care is provided for the city by Hospital Dr. Tony Facio Castro. Two small islands, Uvita Island and Isla de Pájaros, are just offshore.
The city of Cartagena, known in the colonial era as Cartagena de Indias, is a major port founded in 1533, located on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region. It was strategically located between the Magdalena and Sinú rivers and became the main port for trade between Spain and its overseas empire, establishing its importance by the early 1540s. During the colonial era it was a key port for the export of Peruvian silver to Spain and for the import of enslaved Africans under the asiento system. It was defensible against pirate attacks in the Caribbean. It is the capital of the Bolívar Department, and had a population 971,592 as of 2016. It is the fifth-largest city in Colombia and the second largest in the region, after Barranquilla. The urban area of Cartagena is also the fifth-largest urban area in the country. Economic activities include the maritime and petrochemicals industries, as well as tourism.
The city was founded on June 1, 1533, and named after Cartagena, Spain, settlement in the region around Cartagena Bay by various indigenous people dates back to 4000 BC. During the Spanish colonial period Cartagena served a key role in administration and expansion of the Spanish empire. It was a center of political, ecclesiastical, and economic activity. In 1984, Cartagena's colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Aruba is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 32 kilometres (20 mi) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 10 kilometres (6 mi) across at its widest point. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean.
Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten; the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals. Aruba has no administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight regions. Its capital is Oranjestad.
Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It has a land area of 179 km2(69.1 sq mi) and is densely populated, with a total of 102,484 inhabitants at the 2010 Census. It lies outside Hurricane Alley.
Kralendijk is the capital city and main port of the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands. The language spoken in the town is Papiamentu, but Dutch and English are widely used. In Dutch, Koralendijk (of which the name Kralendijk is a degeneration) means "coral dike". In Papiamentu, the town is often called Playa or "beach". As of 2006, the town had a population of 3,061.
Off the coast of Kralendijk lies the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire, noted for diving and snorkeling activities. This small island can be reached by water taxi, or, for divers, by practically all of the local dive operators.