Panama is spending billions to enlarge its canal. In future the largest container vessels will be able to take the shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific. For that to happen, a third lane and more lock complexes are needed.
Panama, a country with about three million inhabitants, earns 80 percent of its GDP from the canal. Its economy is forecast to grow by at least 8% in 2013. Critics fear damage to the environment: in future, the canal will need to use almost twice as much water to operate its locks.