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Colón CityColón, Panama. «koh LOHN» (2000 pop. 204,208), is the second largest city in Panama, at the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal. Colón was surrounded by, but not part of, the former Panama Canal Zone. Colón is an important port, commercial center, and tourist destination. It was made a free trade zone in 1953 and is the world's second largest duty-free port.
The city was founded in
1850 by Americans working on the Panama railroad and was named Aspinwall after one of the builders of the
railway until 1890. Colón is the Spanish form of Columbus; the name of the neighboring port of Cristsbal is Spanish for
Christopher. After completion of the railway in 1855, Colón overshadowed the older Caribbean ports of
Panama, and with the first plans for the isthmian canal it took on additional prestige. Built on a
swampy island, the city was notoriously unhealthful and often scourged by yellow fever until
Colonel William C. Gorgas, in charge
of sanitation during the canal construction, gave it a new system of waterworks and sewerage and drained
the surrounding swamps.
Three modern ports make Colón one of the most important ports of the Caribbean Sea.
This nondescript monument is the only memorial to the founders of Colón: Aspinwall, Stephens and Chauncey, who along with thousands of others, of many nationalities, sacrificed their lives to conquer the tropics - before science had discovered wherein lay man's deadliest foes - the yellow fever and malarial mosquito - and who by their pioneer work made the subsequent development of the Isthmus, and the construction of the Panama Canal comparatively easy.
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