The international boundaries of the east coast of the Pacific Ocean are quite straight forward when compared to the west coast of the same Ocean. The eastern extent of the Pacific runs down the continents Northern, Southern and Central America. The United States has a huge coastline with the Pacific Ocean stretching from the international border with Canada in the state of Washington, right down to Southern California and its border with Mexico. This measures a distance of around 6000 miles as well as covering California and Washington, also has the state of Oregon lying in between.
The city of Seattle is a major port in Washington and the largest conurbation with a population of over 700,000 people. One of the reasons why it is the largest city in the Pacific North-West region of the United States, is as a result of the economic trade coming from the Pacific Ocean. To the south of Washington lies Oregon. The coastline is dominated by the Oregon Coast Range Mountains. This is an area of wilderness with very few areas of population but is home to some of the world’s most delicate temperate coastal forests ecosystems.
California’s coastline with the Pacific is one of the most famous in the World. Stretching from San Francisco in the North to San Diego in the south the coastline has had a major impact on the state that is one of the richest areas in the world. If it were a country it would have the fifth largest GDP in the world. Much of its wealth comes through the coastal cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego with all of them boasting huge port areas. The vast beaches of the Californian coastline are renowned for the part that they played in the cultural-revolution in the 1960’s. As the coastline stretches down into Central America the first country it reaches is Mexico which has a huge coastline with the Ocean. This is close to the equator and is very mountainous. There a are a number of ports along the coastline and the Port of Lazaro Cardenas is the busiest port in the country handling over 25 million tons of cargo each year.
The region is also home to some of Mexico’s top tourist destinations. Both Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco attract millions of tourists each year as a result of the magnificent and spectacular views from the coastline plus long sandy beaches. Other countries in Central America with a Pacific Coastline are Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. All of these countries receive valuable trade coming through their coastal ports.
However, the economic impact of the Ocean is seen to its greatest extent in Panama. As well as having its capital, Panama City located on the coastline, it is also home to the Panama Canal. The canal, which was built in 1904, links the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean thought 48 miles of man-built waterways. Continuing widening of the channels has resulted in over 800,000 vessels passing through it in 2012. The Port of Balboa is close to the capital city and receives huge amounts of trade from the canal.
In South America Columbia Ecuador and Peru all have Pacific Coastlines. In Peru the capital Lima is located on the coast where the Chillon, Rimac and Lurin rivers reach the Ocean. Its port Callao brings in a great amount of economic activity into the country from the Pacific Ocean. Chile is one of the longest and narrowest countries in the world. It is squeezed between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Its coastline stretches for over 2,700 miles and the effect on the country from the Ocean is massive.
As well as providing income from port activities, it also is a major source of food, plus providing the only areas of flat land available for settlements to be built. All of Chile’s major cities are located on the Pacific Coastline, with the only exception being the capital Santiago which is found on the only level area in the centre of the country.