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Ship crossing Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks - Panama City, Panama
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Panama to control canal


On September 7, 1977, the United States signs a treaty with Panama agreeing to transfer control of the Panama Canal to Panama in 2000. In 1903, America's desire to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, then controlled by Colombia, led U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to support a Panamanian revolt against Colombian rule. Panama won independence and immediately signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty with the United States, which gave the U.S. the right to build, protect, and administer indefinitely a canal that would cut through the center of the Republic of Panama. In 1914, the 40-mile Panama Canal was opened, strategically connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Panama later pushed to revoke the treaty, and in 1977 U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian dictator Omar Torrijos signed a treaty to turn over the canal in 2000. A peaceful transfer occurred on December 15, 1999.