Panama Canal Zone

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Panama Canal Zone,

former territory within Panama, 553 sq mi (1,432 sq km), that was administered by the United States under a 1903 treaty (with later amendments) with Panama. The zone included the Panama CanalPanama Canal,
waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic (by way of the Caribbean Sea) and Pacific oceans, built by the United States (1904–14, on territory leased from the republic of Panama) and expanded by Pamana (2007–16).
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 and an area extending 5 mi (8.1 km) on each side. Under the terms of a later treaty (1977), the zone was abolished in Oct., 1979, and returned to Panamanian rule; the canal itself was ceded to Panama in 1999. Panama has begun turning former military installations into housing, civilian ports, hotels, industrial parks, universities, and sports facilities. Some bases have been converted into tourist complexes aimed at attracting cruise-ship passengers, while some undeveloped areas have become eco-tourist sites. The northern section of the former territory is now part of Colón prov., and the southern section part of Panamá prov. CristóbalCristóbal
, town, Colón prov., near the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal, Panama. Cristóbal is located in the former Panama Canal Zone and was the American residential suburb of Colón; it has been under Panamanian jurisdiction since 1979.
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, BalboaBalboa,
town (1990 pop. 2,751), Colón prov., in the former Panama Canal Zone, on the Gulf of Panama. The port for Panama City, Balboa was the administrative headquarters of the Panama Canal Zone. It was also the site of a U.S. navy base (closed 1999).
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 (Caribbean and Pacific ports, respectively), and Ancon are the chief towns.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Panama Canal Zone


the part of Panama through which the Panama Canal flows. The zone is a 16.1-km-wide strip stretching along both banks of the Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans and cutting Panama into two parts. Area, 1,432 sq km. Population, 51,400 (1975). The administrative center is Balboa Heights. Railroads and highways have been built within the zone.

Under the United States-Panamanian Treaty of 1903 the USA acquired the Panama Canal Zone in perpetuity and established political, military, and economic control over the area. Since 1939 the Canal Zone has been officially under the jurisdiction of the US Defense Department and is administered by a governor appointed by the president of the USA. At the same time the governor, who is a general of the US Army, heads the “civil government” of the Canal Zone, and he is the president of the Panama Canal Company. In addition to naval and air force bases at both ends of the canal and at the ocean ports, the USA maintains fortresses, airfields, and a permanent military force in the zone, all under the control of the US Southern Command. There are several US military schools for training Latin American officers in the Canal Zone. In compensation, the US government pays Panama $2.3 million annually; in 1973 the USA earned about $100 million from the operation of the canal. The Panamanian people and government are waging a stubborn struggle for the return of the Canal Zone. [19–408–2; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.