In regulatory jurisdictions that provide for it, consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade and accurate information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent the businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors, they may provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation that aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints. Other organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations such as consumer protection agencies and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission in America and Better Business Bureaus in America and Canada, etc.
A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. Consumer interests can be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law. Consumer protection can be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism. Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered as an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, misrepresentation, other consumer/business interactions. It's a way of preventing frauds and scams from service and sales contracts, eligible fraud, bill collector regulation, utility turnoffs, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.
The following lists consumer legislation at the nation-state level. In the EU member states Germany and the United Kingdom there is the applicability of law at the EU level to be considered. In Australia, the corresponding agency is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the individual State Consumer Affairs agencies; the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has responsibility for consumer protection regulation of financial services and products. However, in practice, it does so through run EDR schemes such as the Financial Ombudsman Service. In Brazil, consumer protection is regulated by the Consumer's Defense Code, as mandated by the 1988 Constitution of Brazil. Germany, as a member state of the European Union, is bound by the consumer protection directives of the European Union. A minister of the federal cabinet is responsible for protection. In the current cabinet of Angela Merkel, this is Katarina Barley; when issuing public warnings about products and services, the issuing authority has to take into account that this affects the supplier's constitutionally protected economic liberty, see Bundesverwaltungsgericht Case 3 C 34.84, 71 BVerwGE 183).
In India, consumer protection is specified in The Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Under this law, Separate Consumer Dispute Redress Forums have been set up throughout India in each and every district in which a consumer can file his complaint on a simple paper with nominal court fees and his complaint will be decided by the Presiding Officer of the District Level; the complaint can be filed by both the consumer of a goods as well as of the services. An appeal could be filed to the State Consumer Disputes Redress Commissions and after that to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission; the procedures in these tribunals are less formal and more people friendly and they take less time to decide upon a consumer dispute when compared to the years long time taken by the traditional Indian judiciary. In recent years, many effective judgment have been passed by some state and National Consumer Forums. Indian Contract Act, 1872 lays down the conditions in which promises made by parties to a contract will be binding on each other.
It lays down the remedies available to aggregate party if the other party fails to honor his promise. The Sale of Goods Act of 1930 act provides some safeguards to buyers of goods if goods purchased do not fulfill the express or implied conditions and warranties; the Agriculture Produce Act of 1937 act provides grade standards for agricultural commodities and live stock products. It specifies the conditions which govern the use of standards and lays down the procedure for grading and packaging of agricultural produce; the quality mark provided under the act is known as AGMARK-Agricultural Marketing. The Nigerian government has a duty to protect its people from any form of harm to human health through the use and purchase of items to meet daily needs. In light of this, the Nigerian Consumer Protection Council, whose aim is to protect and enhance consumers' interest through information and enforcement of the rights of consumers was established by an Act of Parliament to promote and protect the interest of consumers over all pro
Tourism is travel for pleasure or business. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller's country; the World Tourism Organization defines tourism more in terms which go "beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only", as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and not less than 24 hours and other purposes". Tourism can be domestic or international, international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country's balance of payments. Tourism suffered as a result of a strong economic slowdown of the late-2000s recession, between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, but recovered. International tourism receipts grew to US$1.03 trillion in 2005, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 3.8% from 2010. International tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012, emerging markets such as China and Brazil had increased their spending over the previous decade.
The ITB Berlin is the world's leading tourism trade fair. Global tourism accounts for ca. 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The word tourist was used in 1772 and tourism in 1811, it is formed from the word tour, derived from Old English turian, from Old French torner, from Latin tornare. Tourism has become an important source of income for many regions and entire countries; the Manila Declaration on World Tourism of 1980 recognized its importance as "an activity essential to the life of nations because of its direct effects on the social, cultural and economic sectors of national societies and on their international relations."Tourism brings large amounts of income into a local economy in the form of payment for goods and services needed by tourists, accounting as of 2011 for 30% of the world's trade in services, for 6% of overall exports of goods and services. It generates opportunities for employment in the service sector of the economy associated with tourism; the hospitality industries which benefit from tourism include transportation services.
This is in addition to goods bought by tourists, including souvenirs. On the flip-side, tourism can degrade sour relationships between host and guest. In 1936, the League of Nations defined a foreign tourist as "someone traveling abroad for at least twenty-four hours", its successor, the United Nations, amended this definition in 1945, by including a maximum stay of six months. In 1941, Hunziker and Kraft defined tourism as "the sum of the phenomena and relationships arising from the travel and stay of non-residents, insofar as they do not lead to permanent residence and are not connected with any earning activity." In 1976, the Tourism Society of England's definition was: "Tourism is the temporary, short-term movement of people to destinations outside the places where they live and work and their activities during the stay at each destination. It includes movements for all purposes." In 1981, the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism defined tourism in terms of particular activities chosen and undertaken outside the home.
In 1994, the United Nations identified three forms of tourism in its Recommendations on Tourism Statistics: Domestic tourism, involving residents of the given country traveling only within this country Inbound tourism, involving non-residents traveling in the given country Outbound tourism, involving residents traveling in another countryThe terms tourism and travel are sometimes used interchangeably. In this context, travel implies a more purposeful journey; the terms tourism and tourist are sometimes used pejoratively, to imply a shallow interest in the cultures or locations visited. By contrast, traveler is used as a sign of distinction; the sociology of tourism has studied the cultural values underpinning these distinctions and their implications for class relations. International tourist arrivals reached 1.035 billion in 2012, up from over 996 million in 2011, 952 million in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, international travel demand continued to recover from the losses resulting from the late-2000s recession, where tourism suffered a strong slowdown from the second half of 2008 through the end of 2009.
After a 5% increase in the first half of 2008, growth in international tourist arrivals moved into negative territory in the second half of 2008, ended up only 2% for the year, compared to a 7% increase in 2007. The negative trend intensified during 2009, exacerbated in some countries due to the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, resulting in a worldwide decline of 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million international tourists arrivals, a 5.7% decline in international tourism receipts. The World Tourism Organization reports the following ten destinations as the most visited in terms of the number of international travelers in 2017. International tourism receipts grew to US$1.26 Trillion in 2015, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 4.4% from 2014. The World Tourism Organization reports the following entities as the top ten tourism earners for the year 2015: The World Tourism Organizati
Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, marine navigation, aeronautic navigation, space navigation, it is the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks. All navigational techniques involve locating the navigator's position compared to known locations or patterns. Navigation, in a broader sense, can refer to any skill or study that involves the determination of position and direction. In this sense, navigation includes pedestrian navigation. In the European medieval period, navigation was considered part of the set of seven mechanical arts, none of which were used for long voyages across open ocean. Polynesian navigation is the earliest form of open-ocean navigation, it was based on memory and observation recorded on scientific instruments like the Marshall Islands Stick Charts of Ocean Swells.
Early Pacific Polynesians used the motion of stars, the position of certain wildlife species, or the size of waves to find the path from one island to another. Maritime navigation using scientific instruments such as the mariner's astrolabe first occurred in the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages. Although land astrolabes were invented in the Hellenistic period and existed in classical antiquity and the Islamic Golden Age, the oldest record of a sea astrolabe is that of Majorcan astronomer Ramon Llull dating from 1295; the perfecting of this navigation instrument is attributed to Portuguese navigators during early Portuguese discoveries in the Age of Discovery. The earliest known description of how to make and use a sea astrolabe comes from Spanish cosmographer Martín Cortés de Albacar's Arte de Navegar published in 1551, based on the principle of the archipendulum used in constructing the Egyptian pyramids. Open-seas navigation using the astrolabe and the compass started during the Age of Discovery in the 15th century.
The Portuguese began systematically exploring the Atlantic coast of Africa from 1418, under the sponsorship of Prince Henry. In 1488 Bartolomeu Dias reached the Indian Ocean by this route. In 1492 the Spanish monarchs funded Christopher Columbus's expedition to sail west to reach the Indies by crossing the Atlantic, which resulted in the Discovery of the Americas. In 1498, a Portuguese expedition commanded by Vasco da Gama reached India by sailing around Africa, opening up direct trade with Asia. Soon, the Portuguese sailed further eastward, to the Spice Islands in 1512, landing in China one year later; the first circumnavigation of the earth was completed in 1522 with the Magellan-Elcano expedition, a Spanish voyage of discovery led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and completed by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano after the former's death in the Philippines in 1521. The fleet of seven ships sailed from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Southern Spain in 1519, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and after several stopovers rounded the southern tip of South America.
Some ships were lost, but the remaining fleet continued across the Pacific making a number of discoveries including Guam and the Philippines. By only two galleons were left from the original seven; the Victoria led by Elcano sailed across the Indian Ocean and north along the coast of Africa, to arrive in Spain in 1522, three years after its departure. The Trinidad sailed east from the Philippines, trying to find a maritime path back to the Americas, but was unsuccessful; the eastward route across the Pacific known as the tornaviaje was only discovered forty years when Spanish cosmographer Andrés de Urdaneta sailed from the Philippines, north to parallel 39°, hit the eastward Kuroshio Current which took its galleon across the Pacific. He arrived in Acapulco on October 8, 1565; the term stems from the 1530s, from Latin navigationem, from navigatus, pp. of navigare "to sail, sail over, go by sea, steer a ship," from navis "ship" and the root of agere "to drive". The latitude of a place on Earth is its angular distance north or south of the equator.
Latitude is expressed in degrees ranging from 0° at the Equator to 90° at the North and South poles. The latitude of the North Pole is 90° N, the latitude of the South Pole is 90° S. Mariners calculated latitude in the Northern Hemisphere by sighting the North Star Polaris with a sextant and using sight reduction tables to correct for height of eye and atmospheric refraction; the height of Polaris in degrees above the horizon is the latitude of the observer, within a degree or so. Similar to latitude, the longitude of a place on Earth is the angular distance east or west of the prime meridian or Greenwich meridian. Longitude is expressed in degrees ranging from 0° at the Greenwich meridian to 180° east and west. Sydney, for example, has a longitude of about 151° east. New York City has a longitude of 74° west. For most of history, mariners struggled to determine longitude. Longitude can be calculated. Lacking that, one can use a sextant to take a lunar distance that, with a nautical almanac, can be used to calculate the time at zero longitude.
Reliable marine chronometers were unavailable until the late 18th century and not affordable until the 19th century. For about a hundred years, from about 1767 until about 1850, mariners lacking a chronometer used the method of lunar distances to determine Greenwich time to find their longitude. A mariner with a chronometer could check its reading using a lunar determination of Greenwich tim
A fishery is an entity engaged in raising or harvesting fish, determined by some authority to be a fishery. According to the FAO, a fishery is defined in terms of the "people involved, species or type of fish, area of water or seabed, method of fishing, class of boats, purpose of the activities or a combination of the foregoing features"; the definition includes a combination of fish and fishers in a region, the latter fishing for similar species with similar gear types. A fishery may involve the capture of wild fish or raising fish through fish aquaculture. Directly or indirectly, the livelihood of over 500 million people in developing countries depends on fisheries and aquaculture. Overfishing, including the taking of fish beyond sustainable levels, is reducing fish stocks and employment in many world regions. A report by Prince Charles' International Sustainability Unit, the New York-based Environmental Defence Fund and 50in10 published in July 2014 estimated global fisheries were adding $270 billion a year to global GDP, but by full implementation of sustainable fishing, that figure could rise by as much as $50 billion.
In biology – the term fish is most used to describe any animal with a backbone that has gills throughout life and has limbs, if any, in the shape of fins. Many types of aquatic animals referred to as fish are not fish in this strict sense. In earlier times biologists did not make a distinction—sixteenth century natural historians classified seals, amphibians, crocodiles hippopotamuses, as well as a host of marine invertebrates, as fish. In fisheries – the term fish is used as a collective term, includes mollusks and any aquatic animal, harvested. True fish – The strict biological definition of a fish, above, is sometimes called a true fish. True fish are referred to as finfish or fin fish to distinguish them from other aquatic life harvested in fisheries or aquaculture. Fisheries are harvested for their value, they can be freshwater, wild or farmed. Examples are the salmon fishery of Alaska, the cod fishery off the Lofoten islands, the tuna fishery of the Eastern Pacific, or the shrimp farm fisheries in China.
Capture fisheries can be broadly classified as industrial scale, small-scale or artisanal, recreational. Close to 90 % of the world's fishery catches come from seas, as opposed to inland waters; these marine catches have remained stable since the mid-nineties. Most marine fisheries are based near the coast; this is not only because harvesting from shallow waters is easier than in the open ocean, but because fish are much more abundant near the coastal shelf, due to the abundance of nutrients available there from coastal upwelling and land runoff. However, productive wild fisheries exist in open oceans by seamounts, inland in lakes and rivers. Most fisheries are wild fisheries. Farming can occur in coastal areas, such as with oyster farms, but more occur inland, in lakes, ponds and other enclosures. There are species fisheries worldwide for finfish, mollusks and echinoderms, by extension, aquatic plants such as kelp. However, a small number of species support the majority of the world's fisheries.
Some of these species are herring, anchovy, flounder, squid, salmon, lobster and scallops. All except these last four provided a worldwide catch of well over a million tonnes in 1999, with herring and sardines together providing a harvest of over 22 million metric tons in 1999. Many other species are harvested in smaller numbers. Cullis-Suzuki S and Pauly D "Failing the high seas: A global evaluation of regional fisheries management organizations" Marine Policy, 34 pp 1036–1042. FAO: Types of fisheries Hart PJB and Reynolds JD Handbook of fish biology and fisheries Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-632-05412-1 Fisheries at Curlie FAO Fisheries Department and its SOFIA report The Fishery Resources Monitoring System The International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade Dynamic Changes in Marine Ecosystems: Fishing, Food Webs, Future Options, U. S. National Academy of Sciences UNEP/GEF South China Sea Project and its Fisheries Refugia Portal and National Reports on Fish Stocks and Habitats in the South China Sea World Fisheries Day: Seafood for Thought and World Fisheries from Sea to Table slideshow on the Smithsonian Ocean Portal Hawes, J. W..
"Fisheries". The American Cyclopædia. "Fisheries". New International Encyclopedia. 1905. Fisheries Wiki A detailed online encyclopaedia providing current and quantitative information on marine fisheries worldwide
A merchant navy or merchant marine or mercantile marine is the fleet of merchant vessels that are registered in a specific country. On merchant vessels, seafarers of various ranks and sometimes members of maritime trade unions are required by the International Convention on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping for Seafarers to carry Merchant Mariner's Documents. King George V bestowed the title of the "Merchant Navy" on the British merchant shipping fleets following their service in the First World War; the following is a partial list of the merchant navies or merchant marines of various countries. In many countries the fleet's proper name is the capitalized version of the common noun; the British Merchant Navy comprises the British merchant ships that transport cargo and people during time of peace and war. For much of its history, the merchant navy was the largest merchant fleet in the world, but with the decline of the British Empire in the mid-20th century it slipped down the rankings.
In 1939, the merchant navy was the largest in the world with 33% of total tonnage. By 2012, the merchant navy—still remaining one of the largest in the world—held only 3% of total tonnage; as of the year ending 2012, British Merchant Marine interests consists of 1,504 ships of 100 GT or over. This includes parent owned or managed by a British company; this amounts to: 59,413,000 GT or alternatively 75,265,000 DWT. This is according to the annual maritime shipping statistics provided by the British government and the Department for Transport. British shipping is globally by the UK Chamber of Shipping. Canada, like several other Commonwealth nations, created its own merchant navy in a large-scale effort in World War II. Established in 1939, the Canadian Merchant Navy played a major role in the Battle of the Atlantic bolstering the Allies' merchant fleet due to high losses in the British Merchant Navy. Thousands of Canadians served in the merchant navy aboard hundreds of Canadian merchant ships, notably the "Park Ship", the Canadian equivalent of the American "Liberty Ship".
A school at St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia, trained Canadian merchant mariners. "Manning pools", merchant navy barracks, were built in Canadian ports. The Greek maritime fleet is today engaged in commerce and transportation of goods and services universally, it consists of the merchant vessels owned by Greek civilians, flying either the Greek flag or a flag of convenience. Greece is a maritime nation by tradition, as shipping is arguably the oldest form of occupation of the Greeks and a key element of Greek economic activity since ancient times. In 2015, the Greek Merchant Navy controlled the world's largest merchant fleet in terms of tonnage with a total DWT of 334,649,089 tons and a fleet of 5,226 Greek owned vessels, according to Lloyd's List. Greece is ranked regarding all types of ships, including first for tankers and bulk carriers; the birth of the modern Indian Merchant Navy occurred before independence from the United Kingdom, when in 1919 SS Loyalty sailed from India to Britain. Today, India ranks 15th in the world in terms of total DWT.
India supplies around 12.8% of officers and around 14.5% of ratings to the world seafaring community. This is one of the highest of any country. India trains its officers similar to coast guards with all equipment including combat training, they are trained to protect their vessels at all cost from pirates. In December 1939, 3,000 seafarers were employed and 186 merchant vessels were on the New Zealand Registry; some foreign vessels were impressed, including Pamir. New Zealand, like several other Commonwealth nations, created a merchant navy. However, the "wartime Merchant Navy was neither a military force nor a single coherent body", instead it was a "a diverse collection of private companies and ships". Although some ships were involved in the Atlantic and North Pacific trade this involved domestic and South Pacific cargos. New Zealand-owned ships were involved in trade with the United Kingdom and the majority of New Zealand seamen had served with the British Merchant Navy. Over the course of the war, 64 ships were sunk by enemy action on the New Zealand–UK route, 140 merchant seafarers lost their lives.
The Pakistan Merchant Navy was formed in 1947. The Ministry of Port and Shipping, Mercantile Marine Department and Shipping Office established by the Government of Pakistan were authorized to flag the ships and ensured that the vessels were sea worthy. All of the private shipping companies merged and formed the National Shipping Corporation and the Pakistan Shipping Corporation and as a result they had a common flag. Among these companies were the Muhammadi Steamship Company Limited and the East & West Steamship Company. In the Indo-Pak war of 1971 Pakistan suffered a great loss of its merchant vessels at the hands of Indians. On 1 January 1974, President of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto nationalized the National Shipping Corporation and Pakistan Shipping Corporation, formed the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation with the intent of reestablishing the Pakistan Merchant Navy; the company was incorporated under the provisions of the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation Ordinance of 1979 and the Companies Ordinance of 1984.
Today, the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation is the national flag carrier. The corporation's head office is located in Karachi. A regional office based in Lahore caters for
Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standards based on the consensus of different parties that include firms, interest groups, standards organizations and governments Standardization can help to maximize compatibility, safety, repeatability, or quality. It can facilitate commoditization of custom processes. In social sciences, including economics, the idea of standardization is close to the solution for a coordination problem, a situation in which all parties can realize mutual gains, but only by making mutually consistent decisions; this view includes the case of "spontaneous standardization processes", to produce de facto standards. Standard weights and measures were developed by the Indus Valley Civilization; the centralized weight and measure system served the commercial interest of Indus merchants as smaller weight measures were used to measure luxury goods while larger weights were employed for buying bulkier items, such as food grains etc.
Weights existed in categories. Technical standardisation enabled gauging devices to be used in angular measurement and measurement for construction. Uniform units of length were used in the planning of towns such as Lothal, Kalibangan, Dolavira and Mohenjo-daro; the weights and measures of the Indus civilization reached Persia and Central Asia, where they were further modified. Shigeo Iwata describes the excavated weights unearthed from the Indus civilization: A total of 558 weights were excavated from Mohenjodaro and Chanhu-daro, not including defective weights, they did not find statistically significant differences between weights that were excavated from five different layers, each measuring about 1.5 m in depth. This was evidence; the 13.7-g weight seems to be one of the units used in the Indus valley. The notation was based on decimal systems. 83% of the weights which were excavated from the above three cities were cubic, 68% were made of chert. The implementation of standards in industry and commerce became important with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the need for high-precision machine tools and interchangeable parts.
Henry Maudslay developed the first industrially practical screw-cutting lathe in 1800. This allowed for the standardisation of screw thread sizes for the first time and paved the way for the practical application of interchangeability to nuts and bolts. Before this, screw threads were made by chipping and filing. Nuts were rare. Metal bolts passing through wood framing to a metal fastening on the other side were fastened in non-threaded ways. Maudslay standardized the screw threads used in his workshop and produced sets of taps and dies that would make nuts and bolts to those standards, so that any bolt of the appropriate size would fit any nut of the same size; this was a major advance in workshop technology. Maudslay's work, as well as the contributions of other engineers, accomplished a modest amount of industry standardization. Joseph Whitworth's screw thread measurements were adopted as the first national standard by companies around the country in 1841, it came to be known as the British Standard Whitworth, was adopted in other countries.
This new standard specified a 55° thread angle and a thread depth of 0.640327p and a radius of 0.137329p, where p is the pitch. The thread pitch increased with diameter in steps specified on a chart. An example of the use of the Whitworth thread is the Royal Navy's Crimean War gunboats; these were the first instance of "mass-production" techniques being applied to marine engineering. With the adoption of BSW by British railway lines, many of which had used their own standard both for threads and for bolt head and nut profiles, improving manufacturing techniques, it came to dominate British manufacturing. American Unified Coarse was based on the same imperial fractions; the Unified thread angle has flattened crests. Thread pitch is the same in both systems except that the thread pitch for the 1⁄2 in bolt is 12 threads per inch in BSW versus 13 tpi in the UNC. By the end of the 19th century, differences in standards between companies, was making trade difficult and strained. For instance, an iron and steel dealer recorded his displeasure in The Times: "Architects and engineers specify such unnecessarily diverse types of sectional material or given work that anything like economical and continuous manufacture becomes impossible.
In this country no two professional men are agreed upon the size and weight of a girder to employ for given work." The Engineering Standards Committee was established in London in 1901 as the world's first national standards body. It subsequently extended its standardization work and became the British Engineering Standards Association in 1918, adopting the name British Standards Institution in 1931 after receiving its Royal Charter in 1929; the national standards were adopted universally throughout the country, enabled the markets to act more rationally and efficiently, with an increased level of cooperation. After the First World War, similar national bodies were established in other countries; the Deutsches Institut für Normung was set up in Germany in 1917, followed by its counterparts, the American National Standard Institute and the French Commissi
The Panama Canal is an artificial 82 km waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The canal 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 above sea level, lower the ships at the other end; the original locks are 34 m 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 undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut 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 and 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 Treaties provided 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 operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority. Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in 1914, when the canal opened, to 14,702 vessels in 2008, for a total of 333.7 million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System tons. By 2012, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through the canal, it takes 11.38 hours to pass through the Panama Canal. The American Society of Civil Engineers has ranked the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world; the earliest mention of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama occurred in 1534, when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, ordered a survey for a route through the Americas that would ease the voyage for ships traveling between Spain and Peru.
Such a route would have given the Spanish a military advantage over the Portuguese. In 1668, the English physician and philosopher Sir Thomas Browne speculated in his encyclopaedic endeavour Pseudodoxia Epidemica - "some Isthmus have been eat through by the Sea, others cut by the spade: And if policy would permit, that of Panama in America were most worthy the attempt: it being but few miles over, would open a shorter cut unto the East Indies and China". In 1788, American Thomas Jefferson Minister to France, suggested that the Spanish should build the canal since it would be a less treacherous route for ships than going around the southern tip of South America, that tropical ocean currents would widen the canal thereafter. During an expedition from 1788 to 1793, Alessandro Malaspina outlined plans for its construction. Given the strategic location of Panama and the potential offered by its narrow isthmus separating two great oceans, other trade links in the area were attempted over the years.
The ill-fated Darien scheme was launched by the Kingdom of Scotland in 1698 to set up an overland trade route. Inhospitable conditions thwarted the effort and it was abandoned in April 1700. Numerous canals were built in other countries in the late early 19th centuries; the success of the Erie Canal in the United States in the 1820s and the collapse of the Spanish Empire in Latin America led to a surge of American interest in building an inter-oceanic canal. Beginning in 1826, US officials began negotiations with Gran Colombia, hoping to gain a concession for the building of a canal. Jealous of their newly obtained independence and fearing that they would be dominated by an American presence, the president Simón Bolívar and New Granada officials declined American offers; the new nation was politically unstable, Panama rebelled several times during the 19th century. Another effort was made in 1843. According to the New York Daily Tribune, August 24, 1843, a contract was entered into by Barings of London and the Republic of New Granada for the construction of a canal across the Isthmus of Darien.
They referred to it as the Atlantic and Pacific Canal, it was a wholly British endeavor. It was expected to be completed in five years. At nearly the same time, other ideas were floated, including a canal across Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Nothing came of that plan, either. In 1846, the Mallarino–Bidlack Treaty, negotiated between the US and New Granada, granted the United States transit rights and the right to intervene militarily in the isthmus. In 1848, the discovery of gold in California, on the West Coast of the United States, created great interest in a crossing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. William H. Aspinwall, the man who won the federal subsidy for the building and operating the Pacific mail steamships at around the same time, benefited from this discovery. Aspinwall's route included steamship legs from New York City to Panama and from Panama to California, with an overland portage through Panama; the route between California and Panama was soon traveled, as it provided one of the fastest links between San Francisco and the East Coast cities, about 40 days' transit in total.
Nearly all the gold, shipped out of California went by the fast Panama route. Several new and larger paddle steamers were soon plying