The Isthmus of Panama (Spanish : Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (Istmo de Darién), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal. Like many isthmuses, it is a location of great strategic value.
The isthmus formed around 2.8 million years ago,separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and causing the creation of the Gulf Stream. This was first suggested in 1910 by North American paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn. He based the proposal on the fossil record of mammals in Central America. This conclusion provided a foundation for Alfred Wegener when he proposed the theory of continental drift in 1912.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa heard of the South Sea from natives while sailing along the Caribbean coast.On 25 September 1513 he saw the Pacific. In 1519 the town of Panamá was founded near a small indigenous settlement on the Pacific coast. After the discovery of Peru, it developed into an important port of trade and became an administrative centre. In 1671 the Welsh privateer Henry Morgan crossed the Isthmus of Panamá from the Caribbean side and destroyed the city. The town was relocated some kilometers to the west at a small peninsula. The ruins of the old town, Panamá Viejo, are preserved and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Silver and gold from the viceroyalty of Peru were transported overland across the isthmus by Spanish Silver Train to Porto Bello, where Spanish treasure fleets shipped them to Seville and Cádiz from 1707. Lionel Wafer spent four years between 1680 and 1684 among the Cuna Indians.Scotland tried to establish a settlement in 1698 through the Darien scheme.
The California Gold Rush, starting in 1849, brought a large increase in the transportation of people from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Steamships brought gold diggers from eastern US ports, who trekked across the isthmus by foot, horse, and later rail. On the Pacific side, they boarded Pacific Mail Steamship Company vessels headed for San Francisco.
Ferdinand de Lesseps, the man behind the Suez Canal, started a Panama Canal Company in 1880 that went bankrupt in 1889 in the Panama scandals. In 1902–4, the United States forced Colombia to grant independence to the Department of the Isthmus, bought the remaining assets of the Panama Canal Company, and finished the canal in 1914.
A significant body of water (referred to as the Central American Seaway) once separated the continents of North and South America, allowing the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to mix freely. Beneath the surface, two plates of the Earth's crust were slowly colliding, forcing the Cocos Plate to slide under the Caribbean Plate. The pressure and heat caused by this collision led to the formation of underwater volcanoes, some of which grew large enough to form islands. Meanwhile, movement of the two tectonic plates was also pushing up the sea floor, eventually forcing some areas above sea level.
Over time, massive amounts of sediment from North and South America filled the gaps between the newly forming islands. Over millions of years, the sediment deposits added to the islands until the gap was completely filled. By no later than 4.5 million years ago, an isthmus had formed between North and South America. However, an article in Science Magazine stated that zircon crystals in middle Miocene bedrock from northern Colombia indicated that by 10 million years ago, it is likely that instead of islands, a full isthmus between the North and South American continents had already likely formed where the Central American Seaway had been previously.
Evidence also suggests that the creation of this land mass and the subsequent warm, wet weather over northern Europe resulted in the formation of a large Arctic ice cap and contributed to the current ice age. That warm currents can lead to glacier formation may seem counterintuitive, but heated air flowing over the warm Gulf Stream can hold more moisture. The result is increased precipitation that contributes to snow pack.
The formation of the Isthmus of Panama also played a major role in biodiversity on the planet. The bridge made it easier for animals and plants to migrate between the two continents. This event is known in paleontology as the Great American Interchange. For instance, in North America, the opossum, armadillo, and porcupine all trace back to ancestors that came across the land bridge from South America. Likewise, bears, cats, dogs, horses, llamas, and raccoons all made the trek south across the isthmus.
As the connecting bridge between two vast land masses, the Panamanian biosphere is filled with overlapping fauna and flora from both North and South America. There are, for example, over 978 species of birds in the isthmus area.The tropical climate also encourages a myriad of large and brightly colored species, insects, amphibians, birds, fish, and reptiles. Divided along its length by a mountain range, the isthmus's weather is generally wet on the Atlantic (Caribbean) side but has a clearer division into wet and dry seasons on the Pacific side.
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".
The history of Panama includes the long history of the Isthmus of Panama region prior to European colonization, from Pre-Columbian cultures, through the Spanish colonial era, and eventual independence as the modern country of Panama.
Panama is a country located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama.
Laurasia, a portmanteau for Laurentia and Asia, was the more northern of two minor supercontinents that formed part of the Pangaea supercontinent from c.(Mya) to 200 Mya. It separated from Gondwana during the breakup of Pangaea, drifting farther north after the split and finally broke apart with the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean c. 56 Mya.
The Tethys Ocean, also called the Tethys Sea or the Neotethys, was an ocean during much of the Mesozoic Era located between the ancient continents of Gondwana and Laurasia, before the opening of the Indian and Atlantic oceans during the Cretaceous Period.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is an isthmus in Mexico. It represents the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, it was a major shipping route known simply as the Tehuantepec Route. The name is taken from the town of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca; this was derived from the Nahuatl term tecuani-tepec.
Manuel Amador Guerrero, was the first president of Panama from 20 February 1904 to 1 October 1908. He was a member of the Conservative Party.
The Caribbean Plate is a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America.
The Early Cretaceous or the Lower Cretaceous, is the earlier or lower of the two major divisions of the Cretaceous. It is usually considered to stretch from 145 Ma to 100.5 Ma.
The Caribbean large igneous province (CLIP) consists of a major flood basalt, which created this large igneous province (LIP). It is the source of the current large eastern Pacific oceanic plateau, of which the Caribbean-Colombian oceanic plateau is the tectonized remnant. The deeper levels of the plateau have been exposed on its margins at the North and South American plates. The volcanism took place between 139 and 69 million years ago, with the majority of activity appearing to lie between 95 and 88 Ma. The plateau volume has been estimated as on the order of 4 x 106 km³. It has been linked to the Galápagos hotspot.
Lionel Wafer (1640–1705) was a Welsh explorer, buccaneer and privateer.
The Central American Seaway, also known as the PanamanicInter-American and Proto-Caribbean Seaway, was a body of water that once separated North America from South America. It formed in the Mesozoic during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea, and closed when the Isthmus of Panama was formed by volcanic activity in the late Pliocene.
The boundaries between the continents of Earth are generally a matter of geographical convention. Several slightly different conventions are in use. The number of continents is most commonly considered seven but may range as low as four when the Americas and Afro-Eurasia are each considered a single continent. An island can be continental, and therefore associated with the continent on the same continental plate, or oceanic and associated with a continent or geographic region by convention.
Gondwana or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent that existed from the Neoproterozoic until the Jurassic. Gondwana is not considered a supercontinent under the first definition, since the landmasses of Baltica, Laurentia and Siberia were separate at the time.
The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Republic of Panamá.
The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Republic of Colombia.
The Colombia–Panama border is the 225 km (139-mile) long international boundary between Colombia and Panama. It also splits the Darién Gap, a break across the South American and North American continents. This large watershed, forest and mountainous area is in the northern portion of Colombia's Chocó Department and Panama's Darién Province.
Melva Lowe de Goodin is an Afro-Panamanian academic and writer, whose work has focused on adding back the historical contributions of Panama's Afro-Caribbean people. Educated in the United States, she began her teaching career in Africa and upon returning to Panama recognized how invisible the community of blacks who were not Latino were. Joining the newly developing black movement in the country, she strove to educate and preserve the history of West Indians who had immigrated to Panama. Teaching at the University of Panama and simultaneously designing a course and teaching English at Florida State University-Panama, she carried on a dual career of activism and education until 2000, when she was made head of the English Department at the University of Panama. She has published two textbooks; a history of the African diaspora in Panama, which has been published multiple times in both English and Spanish; and wrote a widely-known play to address the historical contributions and biases which have impacted Panama's black citizens.
The geology of Panama includes the complex tectonic interplay between the Pacific, Cocos and Nazca plates, the Caribbean Plate and the Panama Microplate.
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