Colon Container Terminal
Review and History

The Colon Container Terminal is located in Colon, Panama, a seaport on the eastern Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. Capital of Colon Province, Colon was originally located on Manzanillo Island near the Manzanillo International Terminal with Limon Bay to the west and Manzanillo Bay to the east. Since the Canal Zone was returned to Panama, Colon has expanded to include several surrounding towns and Fort Gulick, a former US Army base. In 2000, Colon was home to over 42 thousand people.

The Colon Container Terminal is located in Coco Solo North on the Atlantic Coast of the Republic of Panama at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. Built on the site of a former US Navy base, the Colon Container Terminal opened for business in 1997 as an inter-modal hub for ocean-going cargo. Being relatively new to the commercial seaborne traffic scene, the Colon Container Terminal is a modern port that specializes in containerized cargo, general cargo, and rolling stock. It offers state-of-the-art technology and efficient cargo transshipment services.

Port History

In 1850, citizens of the United States founded the City of Colon as the eastern terminus of the Panama Railroad to help provide a relatively fast route from the East Coast to California during the famous Gold Rush. For many years, many US citizens lived there, calling it Aspinwall, while the native population called it Colon (Spanish for Columbus).

Originally founded on marshy Manzanillo Island, Colon and what would become the Colon Container Terminal was connected to the mainland by a causeway for the railroad. The marsh was drained so that buildings could be constructed.

During an 1885 Colombian civil war, much of the city was burned. It was again plagued by fire in 1915. In 1948, southeast Manzanillo Island was made the Colon Free Trade Zone that has been expanded through additional land reclamations.

At its height, Colon was a buzzing nightlife center with clubs, movies, and cabarets. Its citizens took pride in their city. However, riots in the 1960s that were politically inspired destroyed the town’s wonderful municipal palace and started a long and sad decline. This decline was helped along by military dictatorships that lasted from the late 1960s to 1989.

Colon has been a city in crisis since the 1960s. Unemployment is very high, and poverty is rampant. Crime and violence are problems, and drug addiction and poverty make the situation worse.

In 1994, the Evergreen Group proposed the new Colon Container Terminal. They established a subsidiary company, Colon Container Terminal, S.A., in 1995 to implement the proposal.


In 1997, the Colon Container Terminal was constructed on the site of a former US Naval base. In 2003, a second phase of construction began, adding about 12 hectares of land and Pier No. 3 to the Colon Container Terminal.

In 2008, the Colon Container Terminal began Phase III, adding a new 320-meter long, 15-meter deep Pier 4 and a new container yard for storing cargo.

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