The Panama Canal gives the world a short cut to go from east to west (or west to east) by water. Since it is the connection between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, it allows ships to save time, fuel and money by going through the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific. When the Panama Canal was not in existance, ships had to go all the way around the southern most tip of Africa. It took so much longer to go east to west and cost so much more money. If it costs more money for the shipping companies.....it costs more money for us!