By all accounts, the Panama Canal should have never been built.
In the early 19th century, it made sense to build a canal through Nicaragua and that almost happened, until the French decided to do it in Panama.
Fresh off the Suez Canal accomplishment, the French mobilized quickly.
Workers migrated to help build the canal, nine-tenths of them of Afro-Caribbean descent from the West Indies, along with local indigenous people. Manpower totalled to 40,000 workers.
Yet, the French were simply not prepared for the hostile environment. Hundreds of workers died of yellow fever and malaria. Any efforts to stem the epidemic weren’t enough to eradicate the death toll.