Visited by Columbus in 1502 on his fourth voyage and explored by Balboa who first saw the Pacific Ocean in 1513, the Isthmus of Panama became the principal transshipment point for Spanish treasure and supplies to and from Central and South America in colonial days. The Panama Canal was first conceived by the Spaniards in 1524, when King Charles V of Spain ordered a survey of a waterway route across the isthmus. The Panama Canal became a reality with its dedication in August 1914. The 51-mile-long Panama Canal is one of the two most strategic artificial waterways in the world, the other being the Suez Canal. It took more than 30 years to complete construction of the canal. The project cost $387 million, a real fortune in those days. It also cost many thousands of lives, and ultimately depended on a massive campaign to eradicate the anopheles mosquito to assure its success. The engineering challenge and the health risks were enormous, but both were conquered by men of daring and vision.