On October 1, 1979, the first step in transferring ownership of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama took place. On that date, the Panama Canal Zone, a 10-mile wide area surrounding the canal from the Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean, then under U.S. control, ceased to exist.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the Panama Canal.


1. Which country first attempted, but ultimately failed, to build a canal across Panama in the 1880s?

A. Great Britain

B. France

C. Panama

D. Austria


2. In what year did the United States begin constructing the Panama Canal and how many years did it take?

A. 1898 and 15 years

B. 1900 and 12 years

C. 1904 and 10 years

D. 1906 and seven years


3. In what year was ownership of the Panama Canal fully transferred from the United States to Panama?

A. 1969

B. 1979

C. 1989

D. 1999


4. There is controversy over which ship first traversed the Panama Canal.  Which of the following ships isn’t included in the controversy?

A. SS Cristobal

B. Alexandre La Valley

C. SS Havana

D. SS Ancon


5. At the time negotiations began on building the canal, the Isthmus of Panama was not owned by Panama, but by which country?

A. Colombia

B. Mexico

C. Nicaragua

D. Spain


6. Which U.S. president was responsible for turning the Panama Canal over to Panama?

A. Franklin D. Roosevelt

B. Lyndon B. Johnson

C. Gerald Ford

D. Jimmy Carter


7. Which U.S. president said: “My impression about the Panama Canal is that the great revolution it is going to introduce in the trade of the world is in the trade between the east and the west coast of the United States.”

A. Theodore Roosevelt

B. William Howard Taft

C. Woodrow Wilson

D. Howard Taft


8. A major expansion of the Panama Canal was completed in 2016, enabling larger container ships to traverse the canal. How much more cargo is one ship able to bring through the canal than before the expansion?

A. Twice as much

B. Three times as much

C. Four times as much

D. 10 times as much


9. Approximately how many workers died of injury and disease during the construction of the Panama Canal?

A. 5,000

B. 12,000

C. 25,000

D. 30,000


10. Which of the following canals is the longest in the world?

A. Grand Canal, China

B. Panama Canal

C. Erie Canal, United States

D. Suez Canal, Egypt


Answers:  1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-C, 5-A, 6-D, 7-B, 8-B, 9-C, 10-A