Life before the Panama Canal was hard for early explores that tried to find the north-west passage. The north-west passage is a trade route that lead to the Indies.Early explorers like Christopher Columbus tried very hard to find the north-west passage, but he could never find it. They searched through rivers that emptied into the atlantic ocean thinking that it went across North America to the pacific ocean so they could sail to the Indies and trade. A lot of other countries tried to make a canal that joined the pacific and atlantic ocean. In 1889 the French government authorized to start building the Panama canal, but they didnt finish. So the U.S bought it for 40 million. Also the Panama Canal made trading in the Americas and in most eastern Asian countries easier to accomplish.