Proposals to build a connection between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via Nicaragua date back to Spanish colonial times. Throughout such historical trajectory a series of routes have been presented and ultimately interrupted by civil unrest or funding. The latest approved proposal symbolizes not only the hopes and aspirations for the post-conflict nation, but also the new global forces shaping land and territory.


Spanish explorers such as Antonio Galvao suggested an oceanic link since the 1550s. Much of the depiction of the project was presented as a symbol of the potential explotation of the region.


One of the first serious attempts to map a route came from King the England in the late 18th century, then as the region became the Central American Republic U.S. officials, such as Henry Clay, began to seriously explore idea. In 1849, a failed treaty was negotiated to give the U.S. exclusive rights to build the canal. After the treaty's failure Central American officials sought out the help of Napoleon III.


What followed after the 1850s was a serious of explorations and proposals that attempted to paint the project in terms of feasibility and potential benefits in comparison to other likely inter-oceanic projects that included the Panama Canal and one through the Isthmus of Mexico.


For the conservative and controversial Nicaraguan governments of Diaz and the Chamorrros of the early 20th century, using the potential for a canal as leverage was one the few means left to keep power. As such, by 1914 when the new Bryan–Chamorro Treaty was signed, thus given the U.S. an option in perpetuity and free of taxation to build the canal and lease the Corn Islands for 99 years, though presented in various technical terms, Nicaraguan canal project was by all means a mere mirage for political aspirations, symbolism, and power grabbing from the all sides involved.

Pre-Civil War

Afer the completion of the Panamal Canal and during the period before civil war in Central America, the canal was largely put in the back burner with a mixture of technical and geopolitical appeals appearing periodically.

Post-Civil War

It is truly not until the end of Sandinista-led civil war and the full dismissal of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, that finally in the 1990s efforts to reestablish serious plans to build the Nicaraguan canal are resumed. At this point, without any other options and the desperate need for development after decades of civil turmoil, the socialist-leaning Nicaraguan government began to self-promote lower cost alternatives for the project, such as a so-called Ecocanal that would only connect the Lake of Nicaragua to the Caribbean Sea, and a dry canal that would rely on road and railroads to make the connection. Since the 2000s, interest has fully resumed with interest from a Chinese firm to build the megaproject.

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