The Inter-American Highway (IAH) is the Central American section of the Pan-American Highway and spans 5,470 kilometers (3,400 mi) between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Panama City, Panama.
The idea of a road being built across all of Central America became a tangible goal in 1923 as the United States began conducting aerial surveys using the United States Army new photo reconnaissance and photographic aerial mapping technology. However, the aerial mapping effort was not directly tied to the upcoming Inter-American Highway project and was conducted with the cooperation of several of the Central American republics.
By 1940, the United States had a strong presence in Central America, especially in Panama. The American-owned and operated both the Panama Canal and the Panama Railroad, but with the looming war in Europe, the United States felt it necessary to establish a more direct connection with Panama. Therefore, the American and Panamanian governments agreed to begin the construction of a trans-isthmian highway located outside of the Canal Zone. Thus, the construction of the actual Inter-American Highway was instigated by the United States as a safety precaution at the beginning of World War II.
As with the Panama Canal project, the principal engineers and administrators of the highway construction were supplied by the United States. Working and living conditions varied depending on the location and season, but they were described by the North American crew as "primitive" and they recall their experiences as both "hilarious and tragic."[ citation needed ] For those stationed in larger cities, their families were allowed to come and stay with them as an incentive to keep them from returning to the United States.
Many pieces of what is now the Inter-American Highway were constructed independently by individual countries prior to 1940. However, these roads only existed between large cities and were not in very good condition. Unlike in the United States, transportation in Central America had progressed rapidly from ox-cart paths to air transport creating numerous gaps in the ground transportation network. One of the greatest challenges faced by the workers was bridging these gaps.
Progress on the IAH was painstakingly slow due to the isolation of the building sites and frequent natural obstacles such as mountains and rivers. Nonetheless, construction on the IAH was hastened as the threat of the German U-boats in the Atlantic and Caribbean increased. As part of the American war effort, the United States Army Corps of Engineers began the construction of a "Military Road" in conjunction with the IAH. This group of engineers was allowed access to all the Central American nations involved in the original highway project due to the war emergency status of the Military Road.
The construction of both the IAH and the auxiliary military road progressed at a breakneck speed, and construction supplies quickly ran out. The scarcity of construction material only served to augment local unease concerning the project since local merchants had no precedence over imported materials from the United States or shipping rights, and therefore made little profit from the whole affair. Although construction did not directly benefit local business, it did provide employment of many of the local people. However, this positive impact only lasted as long as the construction team was in an area. For example, after the German submarine threat subsided - due to the presence of the United States Navy - the Corps of Engineers ceased construction on the Military Road project, suddenly leaving many people unemployed and upset.
After the American engineers left Central America, IAH construction started back up at full steam, having inherited a significant amount of supplies and equipment from the abandoned military project. By 1946, the IAH was ready for inspection by American diplomats and engineers, but was far from being finished. Most of the road was only passable by Jeep, but the basic road outline had been carved out of the surrounding jungle and mountains. The road was finally finished in 1967 and existed as a continuous strip of gravel, dirt, or asphalt between Panama and Mexico. The only section of the IAH that was constructed without any form of American aid was the 1,600 mile strip between Nuevo Laredo and Malacatán, on the Mexico-Guatemala border.
The Nicaraguan Canal, formally the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project was a proposed shipping route through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean. Scientists were concerned about the project's environmental impact, as Lake Nicaragua is Central America's key freshwater reservoir while the project's viability was questioned by shipping experts and engineers.
Laredo is a city in and the county seat of Webb County, Texas, United States, on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Laredo has the distinction of flying seven flags. Founded in 1755, Laredo grew from a village to the capital of the brief Republic of the Rio Grande to the largest inland port on the Mexico–United States border. Laredo's economy is based on international trade with Mexico. Many major transportation companies have a facility in Laredo. The city is on the southern end of I-35 which makes it close to the manufacturers in northern Mexico. It has four international bridges and one railway bridge.
George Washington Goethals was a United States Army General and civil engineer, best known for his administration and supervision of the construction and the opening of the Panama Canal. He was the State Engineer of New Jersey and the Acting Quartermaster General of the United States Army.
The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads stretching across the American continents and measuring about 30,000 kilometres (19,000 mi) in total length. Except for a rainforest break of approximately 106 km (70 mi), called the Darién Gap, the roads link almost all of the Pacific coastal countries of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world's longest "motorable road". However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South America and Central America with conventional highway vehicles. Without an all-terrain vehicle, it is necessary to safely circumnavigate this terrestrial stretch by sea.
The Pan-American Highway route in North America is the portion of a network of roads nearly 48,000 km in length which travels through the mainland nations of the Americas. No definitive length of the Pan American Highway exists because the Canadian government has never officially defined any specific route as being part of the Pan-American Highway, while in the U.S., the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has designated the entire Interstate Highway System part of the Pan-American Highway System, although this has not yet been reinforced by any official highway signage. Mexico officially has many branches connecting to various interstate highways at the U.S. border.
The Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated territory of the United States from 1903 to 1979, centered on the Panama Canal and surrounded by the Republic of Panama. The zone consisted of the canal and an area generally extending five miles (8.0 km) on each side of the centerline, excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of the Zone. Its border spanned three of Panama's provinces. When reservoirs were created to assure a steady supply of water for the locks, those lakes were included within the Zone.
The Boeing XB-15 was a United States bomber aircraft designed in 1934 as a test for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) to see if it would be possible to build a heavy bomber with a 5,000 mi (8,000 km) range. For a year beginning in mid-1935 it was designated the XBLR-1. When it first flew in 1937, it was the most massive and voluminous aircraft ever built in the US. It set a number of load-to-altitude records for land-based aircraft, including carrying a 31,205 lb (14,154 kg) payload to 8,200 ft (2,500 m) on 30 July 1939.
Raymond Albert Wheeler was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Nuevo Laredo is a city in the Municipality of Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The city lies on the banks of the Rio Grande, across from the U.S. city of Laredo, Texas. The 2010 census population of the city was 373,725. Nuevo Laredo is part of the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo Metropolitan Area with a population of 636,516. The municipality has an area of 1,334.02 km2 (515.07 sq mi). Both the city and the municipality rank as the third largest in the state.
The Bridge of the Americas is a road bridge in Panama, which spans the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. Designed by Sverdrup & Parcel, it was completed in 1962 at a cost of US$20 million, connecting the north and south American land masses. Two other bridges cross the canal: the Atlantic Bridge at the Gatun locks and the Centennial Bridge.
Federal Highway 85 connects Mexico City with the Mexico–United States border at Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Highway 85 runs through Monterrey, Nuevo León; Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas; Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosí; and Pachuca, Hidalgo. It ends at the intersection of Highway 95 in the San Pedro area of Mexico City. Highway 85 is the original route of the Pan-American Highway from the border to the capital as well as the Inter-American Highway.
The idea of the Panama canal dates back to 1513, when Vasco Núñez de Balboa first crossed the isthmus. The narrow land bridge between North and South America houses the Panama Canal, a water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The earliest European colonists recognized this potential, and several proposals for a canal were made.
Joseph Cowles Mehaffey was a Major General in the United States Army. As a member of the Army Corps of Engineers, he was the consulting engineer on the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.; helped renovate the White House; and served as a supervising engineer for the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. He was assigned in 1941 as an engineer on the Panama Canal, and was Governor of the Panama Canal Zone from 1944 to 1948.
The Banana Wars were occupations, police actions, and interventions on the part of the United States in Central America and the Caribbean between the end of the Spanish–American War in 1898 and the inception of the Good Neighbor Policy in 1934. These military interventions were most often carried out by the United States Marine Corps, which developed a manual, The Strategy and Tactics of Small Wars (1921) based on its experiences. On occasion, the Navy provided gunfire support and Army troops were also used.
The United States Air Forces Southern Command is an inactive Major Command of the United States Air Force. It was headquartered at Albrook Air Force Base, Canal Zone, being inactivated on 1 January 1976.
Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge is one of four vehicular international bridges located on the U.S.-Mexico border in the city of Laredo, Texas; it connects Laredo over the Rio Grande with Colombia in Anáhuac, Nuevo León. It is owned and operated by the City of Laredo and the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes.
The Laredo–Nuevo Laredo Metropolitan Area is one of six bi-national metropolitan areas along the U.S.-Mexican border. The city of Laredo is situated in the U.S. state of Texas on the northern bank of the Rio Grande and Nuevo Laredo is located in the Mexican State of Tamaulipas in the southern bank of the river. This metropolitan area is also known as the Two Laredos or the Laredo Borderplex. The metropolitan area is made up of one county: Webb County in Texas and three municipalities: Nuevo Laredo Municipality in Tamaulipas, Hidalgo Municipality in Coahuila, Anáhuac Municipality in Nuevo León in Mexico. Two urban areas: the Laredo Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Zona Metropolitana Nuevo Laredo three cities and 12 towns make the Laredo–Nuevo Laredo Metropolitan area which has a total of 636,516 inhabitants according to the INEGI Census of 2010 and the United States Census estimate of 2010. The Laredo–Nuevo Laredo is connected by four International Bridges and an International Railway Bridge. According to World Gazetteer this metropolitan area ranked 157th largest in North and South America in 2010 with an estimated population of 775,481. This area ranks 66th in the United States and 23rd in Mexico.
The Army Map Service (AMS) was the military cartographic agency of the United States Department of Defense from 1941 to 1968, subordinated to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. On September 1, 1968, the AMS was redesignated the U.S. Army Topographic Command (USATC) and continued as an independent organization until January 1, 1972, when it was merged into the new Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) and redesignated as the DMA Topographic Center (DMATC). On October 1, 1996, DMA was folded into the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), which was redesignated as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) on 2003.
The history of Panama during World War II begins in 1939. Due to the American-controlled Panama Canal cutting across the center of the country, Panama was of major strategic importance to the Allied war effort, as well as the most important strategic location in Latin America during World War II. It provided an invaluable link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that was vital to both commerce and the defense of the Western Hemisphere. Therefore, the defense of the Canal Zone was the United States' chief concern in the American Theater. Panama never received Lend-Lease assistance, but in return for the rights to build military infrastructure within Panamanian territory, the United States undertook large-scale public works projects, which did much to modernize the country and boost the economy.
The history of Latin America during World War II is important because of the significant economic, political, and military changes that occurred throughout much of the region as a result of the war. The war caused a lot of panic in Latin America over economics, because they depended on the European investment capital which was shut down. Latin America tried to stay neutral but the warring countries were endangering their neutrality. Most countries used propaganda to turn the neutral countries to their side, while Berlin wanted Latin America neutral. In order to better protect the Panama Canal, combat Axis influence, and optimize the production of goods for the war effort, the United States through Lend-Lease and similar programs greatly expanded its interests in Latin America, resulting in large-scale modernization and a major economic boost for the countries that participated.
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