Currency: Balboa (PAB)
Calling Code: +507
Panama is a country located in the southeast of
Central America. Its official name is the Republic of Panama and its
capital is Panama City, bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea,
on the south by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Colombia and on
the west by Costa Rica. It has an area of 75 420 km², located on
the isthmus of the same name, a strip that joins South America with
Central America, its mountainous territory is only interrupted by
the Panama Canal, the interoceanic road that connects the Atlantic
Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and whose construction, at the
beginning of the 20th century, is recognized as a milestone of
Politically, its territory is constituted by 10 provinces and by five indigenous districts since 2014. According to the Panamanian Constitution, Spanish is the official language of the country and all Panamanians have a duty to know it and the right to use it. In 2006, it was the mother tongue of 93.1% of Panamanians, while other languages, also Panamanian, are recognized in the educational system in diverse communities where the indigenous population is the majority.
Panama condition as a transit country made it an early meeting point for cultures from all over the world. The country is the geographical scenario of the Panama Canal, a work that facilitates communication between the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and that significantly influences world trade. And now with the recent inauguration of the expanded Canal, it offers a greater transit of cultures. Due to its geographical position, it currently offers the world a wide platform of maritime, commercial, real estate and financial services, including the Colon Free Zone, the largest free zone in the continent and the second in the world.
With a population of over four million inhabitants, it has a privileged position in several classifications of growth and development in Latin America, such as the 2016 human development index (first in Central America and fourth in Latin America). Panama is the second most competitive country in Latin America after Chile according to the World Economic Forum, but also the Latin American country with the highest economic growth The country is cataloged in absolute terms, that is, without taking into account the distribution of wealth with the American dollar as the official currency.
Cerro Hoya National Park is a nature preserve in Panama, situated 1.2 mi West of Jobero in Panama.
Chagres National Park is a protected area in the Panama province in the central Panama. It covers a total area of 129,000 ha.
Darien National Park is UNESCO biosphere reserve situated in the South East Panama. It covers an area of 5,790 sq km.
Chiriqui Gulf Marine National Park is a marine nature reserve that protects an area of Chiriqui Gulf in the South West Panama.
Isla Bastimentos National Park is a nature reserve situated in the Bocas del Tora District of Panama.
Isla Coiba National Park covers an island of Coiba. It covers an area of 503 sq km in the Montijo District of Panama.
La Amistad International Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the North West Panama. It covers an area of 1992 sq km.
Metropolitan Nature Park is a nature reserve situated within borders of a Panama City in the Ancon district.
Omar Torrijos National Park is a nature reserve situated 31 mi Northwest of Penonome, 5 mi Northwest of El Cope in Panama.
Panama Canal was finished in the early twentieth century unites Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and instantly became a symbol of human progress and ingenuity.
Panama Viejo is a former old Panama City. Today it is situated in its suburbs of the modern capital of Panama.
Soberania National Park is situated 25 km (16 mi) from Panama City in Colón, Panamá provinces in Panama.
Volcán Barú is an active stratovolcano situated in the Chiriquí Province in Panama that opens a great view of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Geographic coordinates - 9 00 N, 80 00 W.
The climate is subequatorial; May to January is the rainy season, January to May is the dry season.
The relief is mostly steep, uneven, mountains and plains. The highest point is the volcano Baru (3475 m), located in the province of Chiriqui.
Natural resources - copper, timber, seafood, there is the possibility of building hydroelectric power plants.
Forests occupy 44% of the country's territory (2010).
In Panama, the climate is subequatorial, hot and humid. The intra-annual temperature amplitudes are small, the average monthly temperatures on the coasts are 25–28 °C. Daily temperature fluctuations are 6-8 °C. Constantly high relative humidity (80%). In the mountains, vertical climatic zonality is manifested (above 700 m, the average monthly temperatures decrease to 18–20 °C). The average annual precipitation on the northern slopes of the mountains and on the coast of the Caribbean Sea is 2500-3500 mm (rainfall is abundant throughout the year with a small maximum from April to December), in the southwest - up to 1500-2000 mm (dry season is pronounced in January - March ).
The territory of modern Panama was inhabited by a few
Indian tribes of Kuna, Choco and Guaya. In the south, there was a Coclet
culture with a developed tradition of making metal objects and ceramics.
The first contact with Europeans occurred in 1501 with the Spaniard
Rodrigo de Bastidas.
In 1502, Christopher Columbus explored the east coast of Panama on his fourth voyage to the New World.
In 1513, Vasco Nunez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the east. In 1510 he founded a colony and became governor of the region. Soon Portobelo became a place for the transfer of Inca gold to Europe, attracting English pirates to these places. African slaves were brought in. In 1519, the future capital of the country, the city of Panama, was founded. The English pirate Henry Morgan, who later became the governor of Jamaica, plundered Portobelo several times and, in 1671, the city of Panama.
The short history of the Scottish colonial presence in Panama is also interesting. In 1696, about 2,500 Scottish settlers established a trading colony at Darien. Due to the lack of support promised by the British and the lack of experience, the Scottish colony experienced great difficulties. Fatal for her was the decision to hire one of the Jamaican corsairs in 1699 to attack Spanish trade caravans. In response, the Spanish Expeditionary Force attacked Darien and forever expelled the Scots from Panama.
With the decline of the Spanish empire, Panama lost its importance. In 1821, the country declared independence from Spain and became part of Simon Bolivar's Gran Colombia.
The economy of the country was backward, but interest in shipping through Panama rose again in the 1850s, after the discovery of gold in California. The railroad was built. In 1879, a French company began construction of the Panama Canal, which was supposed to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The company's bankruptcy halted construction of the canal in 1889.
On the initiative and with the direct support of the United States, riots broke out in the northwestern regions of Colombia, and the province of Panama declared independence from Colombia in 1903. The canal and the land near the canal is given under the control of the United States of America. Between 1904 and 1914, the canal was completed under the direction of US Army Engineer Officer George Washington Gotthols. Cheap labor was used in the construction - mostly the Negro population of the Antilles, Barbados, British Western India, who were recruited by American recruiters, seducing high wages, which turned out to be, according to a number of evidence, not so high. Panama entered the First World War on April 7, 1917 on the side of the Entente, the main participation of the country was reduced to the fight against German spies.
Demonstrations and riots broke out against US control of the canal in 1927 and again in 1947, 1959 and 1964.
In 1940, Arnulfo Arias became president, who was removed from this post a year later. He seized power in 1949 and was overthrown in 1951. José Antonio Remon, elected president in 1952, was assassinated in 1955, after which Ernesto de la Guardia took over the post. His advent was followed by a short succession of constitutional governments: in 1960, Roberto Chiari received the presidency, in 1964 this post was taken by Marco Robles, and in 1968 for the third time Arnulfo Arias, who was overthrown 11 days later in a bloodless military coup.
The military junta that was formed was led by two colonels known for their conservative views: José María Pinilla Fabregas (since 1960 deputy commander of the National Guard) and Bolivar Urrutia (commander of the National Guard since October 1968). The remaining 8 members of the junta, who became part of it in the position of ministers, were associated with big business. The National Assembly was dissolved and political parties banned.
On February 25, 1969, a coup took place within the National Guard itself. The leaders of the conservative wing and supporters of the dictatorship were dismissed from the army and deported to the United States. Real power passed to one of the organizers of the October 11 coup, Colonel Omar Torrijos.
On December 15, 1969, there was an attempt at a pro-American coup led by Colonels Jose Maria Pinilla Fabregas, R. Silvera and A. Sanhur, but thanks to the personal courage of Omar Torrijos, who returned from abroad to the country on the same day and actively supported him, A M. Noriega, the rebellion failed.
The National Corporation for the Production of Sugar was created, the first 5 sugar factories in the country were built. A hydroelectric power station was built on the Baiano River. The country has developed a network of banks.
In 1971, a new labor code was passed that gave workers
and trade unions greater rights to assert economic demands and reduced
the work week to 40 hours, as well as a guaranteed right to strike, the
possibility of participation in the profits of enterprises, a minimum
wage, a thirteenth wage and protection from unjustified layoffs. For the
first time in the country began mass housing construction for low-paid
categories of the population. The country's leadership made it possible
to turn Panama into an international financial center: in the 70s, about
fifty large banks were already operating in the country. The average
annual income of a Panamanian has become higher than in any country in
Panamanians received wide support from such measures of the government of O. Torrijos as tax reform, restructuring of the education system (universal primary education was introduced) and health care, agrarian reform (based on the use of fallow and vacant state lands), strengthening the role of trade unions with the introduction of the principle of compulsory membership in them . In the course of the reform of the education system, by 1978 one of the best achievements in Latin America was achieved: not a single student had to get to school for more than half an hour on foot. Education until the age of 9 became not only free, but also compulsory. 98% of school-age children attended schools. The number of students has quadrupled. 12% of general government spending was allocated to health care. Healthcare costs have gone up from $11.7 to $17 a year. For every 10 thousand people relied on a specialized medical center.
The actually frozen agrarian reform of 1962 was launched, and the long non-payment of taxes began to be qualified as the refusal of the owner from the land, and the government received the right to transfer it to the peasants. In 1969-1971, 73 thousand hectares were transferred in this way. More than 250 cooperative farms were created on the expropriated lands (asentamiento, in 1970 they gave 1% of the national grain production, after 3 years already 30%, and the incomes in them exceeded the income of single peasants by 4-5 times).
In a short time, powerful trade union associations were created (the main one, the National Center of Workers, had 40,000 members).
An active policy in the field of eradicating illiteracy led to the fact that if in 1968 there were about 35% of illiterates in the country, then in 1978, according to O. Torrijos, “not a single child in Panama took more than half an hour to walk to school” Education up to 9 years became compulsory and free. The number of schoolchildren has increased 5 times, mainly due to schools focused on training future specialists for industry, transport and agriculture. The range of professions at the University of Panama has tripled, its branches have appeared in the provinces, and the number of students has grown 4 times. Textbooks were provided free of charge. For the first time, the Ministry of Health was created, about 12% of government spending was allocated for the needs of medicine. There was a specialized medical center for every 10,000 people, and infant mortality dropped from 44 per 1,000 births to 24.
Over time, the popularity of Torrijos among the people grew due to socially oriented politics and populist speeches. During this period, there is a widespread construction of roads, bridges, residential buildings, agrarian reform is being carried out, although the country has climbed into heavy debts. Education and health care developed rapidly. A number of North American companies were nationalized and new enterprises built. The government of Torrijos took measures aimed at strengthening the national sovereignty of the country.
In the elections to the National Assembly (NA) on August 6, 1972, with a turnout of 89%, the supporters of O. Torrijos received 350 seats, left parties (including communists and their supporters) - 60, right parties - 50, independents - 44, democratic Christians - 1 The NA had the right to consider laws, amend them, accept and reject them, approve amendments to the constitution, ratify or reject international treaties. The NA gained the right to elect the president and vice president of the country. However, the right of legislative initiative was retained by the National Legislative Council, whose members were appointed by the president of the country and the chairman of the National Assembly.
On October 12, 1972, Demetrio Lacas was elected president of the country at the first session of the National Assembly. The new constitution categorically forbade the alienation of national territory under any pretext and introduced the institution of a popular plebiscite to approve the most important international treaties (in particular, those relating to existing or new inter-oceanic canals. The electoral qualification was reduced from 21 to 18 years. Article 2 of the new constitution obliged the executive, legislative and the judiciary to work in "harmonious cooperation among themselves" and with the armed forces of the country (the National Guard received the legal right to participate in the political life of the country). The right of the state to the public sector and economic activity was proclaimed. The temporary (for 6 years) article provided almost all the supreme power and the credentials of O. Torrijos as "Supreme Leader of the Panamanian Revolution".
On September 7, 1977, an agreement was reached for the complete transfer of the channel from US jurisdiction to the government of Panama at the end of 1999 (beginning October 1, 1979). In July 1981, Torrijos died in a plane crash under suspicious circumstances that did not rule out the possibility of murder. His colleague, Colonel Manuel Noriega, came to power. In the following decade, Noriega, from the post of commander of the National Guard, de facto led the country, although the appearance of democracy was maintained and presidential elections were held regularly. In 1988, an American court charged Noriega with involvement in drug trafficking, and the United States began to attempt to remove Noriega from power. In 1989, Noriega canceled the results of the May presidential election and declared Francisco Rodríguez president, dispersing protests. The current official version of the United States claims that the opposition candidate collected twice as many votes as Noriega's protégé.
An attempt by a group of officers of the Panamanian army, with the support of the United States, to organize a putsch to overthrow Noriega from the post of commander-in-chief in October 1989 failed, almost all the organizers were arrested and executed (members of their families and families of sympathizers were also persecuted), some managed to escape to the USA.
On December 15, 1989, the legislature of Panama declared Noriega president and declared a state of war with the United States. On the same day, one American soldier was killed in the country.
On December 20, 1989, the United States launched a military operation against Panama. Noriega was overthrown, Guillermo Endara, brought from the USA, was put in his place.
In 1994, Ernesto Pérez Balladares, a former colleague of Torrijos, was elected president in his government. Under Balladares, free market principles were preached, the electricity and telephone companies were privatized, and Panama joined the WTO. At the end of his reign, Balladares lost a referendum on a second term by about 1 to 2, citing the unpopularity of his neoliberal undertakings as a reason. In 1999, the widow of ex-president Arnulfo Arias Mireia Moscoso Rodriguez was elected president, who later lost the contest for this post in 2004. Her program was ambitious, but there were difficulties with implementation, since her party did not have a majority in the legislative assembly. In 2004, Martin Torrijos Espino, the son of General Torrijos, who had already run for president in 1999, took over as president. His arrival to this post confirmed an interesting pattern - the loser in the presidential elections in Panama wins the next. Torrijos Jr. acted on a conditionally social democratic platform and invited everyone and everyone to "join the social pact against poverty, for social justice and prosperity."
In recent times, protests and social protests against neo-liberal reforms have become a noticeable trend in Panamanian life (especially noticeable in August 2001, September 2003 and May-June 2005).
On May 3, 2009, presidential and parliamentary elections were held, in which Ricardo Martinelli, the candidate of the liberal Democratic Choice party, was elected as the new president.
In the general elections of May 4, 2014, Juan Carlos Varela of the Panamista Party was elected president, and in the National Assembly, the Democratic Change, Revolutionary Democratic and Panamista parties became the leading parties.
Panama is administratively divided into ten provinces
(Spanish provincias, in the singular - provincia) and three autonomous
regions (Comarca, Spanish comarca indígena).
Two more comarca are part of the provinces and are thus hierarchically equivalent to districts (distrito).
Member of the UN, OAS, Non-Aligned Movement, WTO.
Panama is a unitary state. The constitution was adopted on 10/11/1972. The form of government is a presidential republic. The type of government is a democratic republic. The head of state and government is the president. The current president is Laurentino Cortiso.
The Cabinet of Ministers is appointed by the President, and the President and Vice President are elected by popular vote every 5 years.
Legislative body - unicameral National Assembly - 71 deputies, elected by the population for a five-year term.
According to the results of the elections in May 2019, the following parties are represented in the National Assembly:
Revolutionary Democratic Party - centre-left, 35 seats in the National Assembly;
Democratic Change (Panama) - Liberal Conservative, 18 seats;
Panamist Party (former National Revolutionary, former Arnulfist) - conservative-nationalist, 8 seats;
Liberal Republican National Movement (MOLIRENA) - center-right, 5 seats.
The remaining 5 seats in the National Assembly were taken by independent politicians.
There are several more legal parties and movements registered in the country that are not represented in parliament.
The economy of Panama is based on the operation of the Panama Canal, as well as on banking, insurance, registration of ships under the flag of the country and tourism. These industries account for approximately two-thirds of Panama's GDP and employ approximately two-thirds of the workforce.
GDP per capita in 2012 - 15.6 thousand dollars (63rd place in the world).
Industry provides about 17% of GDP (18% of employees are employed), and agriculture - about 6% of GDP (15% of employees are employed).
The main agricultural crops are bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; cattle are bred.
Industries - construction, brewing, cement and other building materials, sugar production, oil refining.
Export - $ 3.06 billion (in 2017): petroleum products (21%), tar (9.9%), bananas (9.8%), ships (5.1%), as well as coffee, gold, shrimp and other food products.
Major buyers: Ecuador 28%, Netherlands 9.8%, USA 8.1%, South Korea 4.3%.
Imports - $ 24.8 billion (in 2017): Crude oil and oil products (33%), engineering products (14%), chemical products, including medicines (12.7%), vehicles, including ships (11.1%), textiles (5.8%).
Major suppliers: China 24%, USA 19%, Colombia 10%, South Korea 6.6%.
The Panamanian currency, the balboa, was introduced in 1903, after secession from Colombia. However, in practice, balboa is rarely used. Panama has its own coinage, but US dollars are used as paper currency. In Panama, coins are minted with a maximum denomination of 5 balboas, as well as 1 balboa and smaller ones (since 1934, the balboa has been firmly pegged to the US dollar in a ratio of 1: 1).
Panama was the first of the three countries in Latin America to dollarize; later Ecuador and El Salvador were dollarized.
In 2010, 1.7 million tourists visited the country, which is the highest figure and 12% more than in 2009.
Since 2009, the Trans-Panama Trail has been developed in Panama. The TransPanama Trail is a 1,127 km hiking trail that runs across the country from the border with Colombia to the border with Costa Rica.
Tocumen International Airport.
Population - 4.2 million (2020).
Annual increase - 1.5% (fertility - 2.5 births per woman).
According to the average forecast, the population of the country by 2100 will be 3.9 million people.
Infection with the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - 1% (53rd place in the world, estimate for 2007), 20,000 people.
Birth rate - 20.18 ‰ (96th place in the world), mortality - 4.66 ‰ (196th place in the world), infant mortality 12.67 per 1000 newborns (139th place), average life expectancy - 77.25 years (74. 47 years for men, 80.16 years for women).
The share of the urban population is 73%.
Wed population density 48.5 people/km2 (2013).
Separately from Panamanians, Americans should be
considered - US citizens living compactly mainly in the Panama Canal
Zone on a permanent basis, of which about 75% are US military personnel
(army, air force, navy and marines). Americans live with their families
apart in their own towns, specially built for their accommodation, with
little contact or contact with the local population (having their own
administrative bodies, police and other municipal and public services,
schools, churches, shops, entertainment facilities etc.). Over many
decades, such a sub-ethnic type as the Panama American (the so-called
"200% Americans") has been developed. In this regard, it is a common
practice for family members of American employees in Panama to not
understand a word of Spanish in several decades of living there.
Spanish (official), French (18% of the population speaks), English (14% of the population speaks), many Panamanians speak several languages.
Catholics make up from 75% to 85% of the country's population, Protestants - from 15% to 25%. Protestants are divided into believers of the Assemblies of God, Protestant Episcopal Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Baptists, Methodists. About 2% of the population professes Bahaism, Jehovah's Witnesses - 1.31%, Mormons - 1.1%.
The literacy rate in the country in 2016 is 94%, which
makes Panama the leader in this indicator in the Central American
region. The education index was 0.888 for 2007, which is in the high
There are almost 100,000 students in the country (young people study at 88 universities).
Main higher education institutions:
University of Panama
Technological University of Panama
West Coast University
Polytechnic University of Central America
University of Santa Maria la Antigua
The state television and radio company - SERTV (Sistema Estatal de Radio y Televisión - "State Radio and Television System"), includes TVN, SERTV Canal 11, radio channels Radio Nacional de Panamá, Nacional FM, Cristol FM, international radio channel Radio Panamá Internacional.
The country does not have mandatory data retention laws and is not part of the 5 and 14 eye alliances, which is why some VPN providers (NordVPN) are based there.
The culture of Panama comes from European music, arts and traditions brought by the Spaniards to Panama. Hegemonic forces created hybrid forms that combined African and Indian cultures with European ones. For example, tamborito is a Spanish dance with African rhythms, themes and dance moves.
Folklore varies in each region and is represented by the typical costume, skirt, traditional food and dishes, as well as music and dance.
Panama athletes made their Olympic debut in 1928.
The country does not have a standing army. The "Public forces of the Republic" include:
National Border Guard;
Panama National Police;
National Air Service;
National Maritime Service;
Institutional Protection Service.
The total number of armed paramilitaries is about 12 thousand people (of which 11 thousand are the forces of the national police).