The Panama Canal, one of the most touristic and emblematic points of the country, received this weekend the visit of thousands of pilgrims, who will meet this week with Pope Francisco in the World Youth Day (WYD), reported on Monday the authority of thr waterway.
The day of greatest affluence was Sunday, when close to 6,000 young people from a hundred countries visited both the Miraflores centenary locks, located on the Pacific side, and those of Agua Clara, in the Atlantic.
The young people had the opportunity to see how the ships cross the locks and to know the history of the interoceanic road, which was built by the United States at the beginning of the last century and transferred to Panama on December 31, 1999.
Currently, 6 percent of world trade transits through the channel, whose main customers are the United States and China.
In June will be three years since the new locks were inaugurated, which were built so that can cross the so-called neopanamax ships, with capacity to carry up to 14,000 containers.
Container transport continues to be the main business of the water route, but the new locks have allowed the canal to open to other products, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) or large cruise ships, which did not fit into the old complex.
The water route indicated in a statement that the visiting hours will be extended until after the WYD, which begins on Tuesday and is one of the most important events of the Catholic Church, to meet the high demand of these days.
"On average, around 2,500 to 3,000 people visit the visitor centers every day, and close to one million do so every year", the Panama Canal Authority (PCA), the autonomous entity that manages the route, added in a statement.
The visit of Francis, who will arrive in Panama next Wednesday, has generated an immense interest not only in this country but throughout Central America, since the only pontiff who has traveled to this region was John Paul II, in 1983 and 1996.