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Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational
Issues
  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela - named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006, Panamanians approved an ambitious plan to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal's capacity, is expected to be completed in 2014-15.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
per capita: 254 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
148 cu km (2000)

Land boundaries:
total: 555 km
border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Climate:
tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
9 00 N, 80 00 W

Natural resources:
copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m

Terrain:
interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills

Geography - note:
strategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming land bridge connecting North and South America; controls Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean

Area:
total: 78,200 sq km
land: 75,990 sq km
water: 2,210 sq km

Location:
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica

Coastline:
2,490 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than South Carolina

Irrigated land:
430 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin

Natural hazards:
occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area

Land use:
arable land: 7.26%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 90.79% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.57 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.9% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
16,000 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.88 years
male: 74.08 years
female: 79.81 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 92.5%
female: 91.2% (2000 census)

Net migration rate:
-0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%

Median age:
total: 26.7 years
male: 26.3 years
female: 27.1 years (2008 est.)

Population:
3,309,679 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
3.8% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
1.544% (2008 est.)

Languages:
Spanish (official), English 14%; note - many Panamanians bilingual

Death rate:
4.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 500 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.6% (male 499,254/female 479,242)
15-64 years: 63.8% (male 1,066,915/female 1,043,499)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 102,937/female 117,832) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
20.68 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Religions:
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

Nationality:
noun: Panamanian(s)
adjective: Panamanian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara J. STEPHENSON
embassy: Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas Panama, Apartado Postal 0816-02561, Zona 5, Panama City
mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
telephone: [507] 207-7000
FAX: [507] 317-5568

National holiday:
Independence Day, 3 November (1903)

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Government type:
constitutional democracy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Chamber of Commerce; National Civic Crusade; National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Federico HUMBERT Arias
chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
FAX: [1] (202) 483-8416
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Honolulu, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa

International organization participation:
BCIE, CAN (observer), CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (78 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - in 2009, the number of seats will change to 71
elections: last held 2 May 2004 (next to be held 3 May 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 41, PA 17, PS 9, MOLIRENA 4, CD 3, PLN 3, PP 1
note: legislators from outlying rural districts are chosen on a plurality basis while districts located in more populous towns and cities elect multiple legislators by means of a proportion-based formula

Legal system:
based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Flag description:
divided into four, equal rectangles; the top quadrants are white (hoist side) with a blue five-pointed star in the center and plain red; the bottom quadrants are plain blue (hoist side) and white with a red five-pointed star in the center

Independence:
3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain 28 November 1821)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
local short form: Panama

Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Martin TORRIJOS Espino]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]; Panamenista Party or PA [Juan Carlos VARELA] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or PU (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Guillermo "Billy" FORD and Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Rene ORILLAC] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)

Capital:
name: Panama
geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Constitution:
11 October 1972; major reforms adopted 1978, 1983, 1994, and 2004

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Martin TORRIJOS Espino (since 1 September 2004); First Vice President Samuel LEWIS Navarro (since 1 September 2004); Second Vice President Ruben AROSEMENA Valdes (since 1 September 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Martin TORRIJOS Espino (since 1 September 2004); First Vice President Samuel LEWIS Navarro (since 1 September 2004); Second Vice President Ruben AROSEMENA Valdes (since 1 September 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (not eligible for immediate reelection; president and vice presidents must sit out two additional terms (10 years) before becoming eligible for reelection); election last held 2 May 2004 (next to be held on 3 May 2009); note - beginning in 2009, Panama will have only one vice president
election results: Martin TORRIJOS Espino elected president; percent of vote - Martin TORRIJOS Espino 47.5%, Guillermo ENDARA Galimany 30.6%, Jose Miguel ALEMAN 17%, Ricardo MARTINELLI 4.9%
note: government coalition - PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party), PP (Popular Party)

Administrative divisions:
11 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Comarca Kuna Yala, Comarca Ngobe-Bugle, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*(Kuna Yala), and Veraguas

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 35.6%, Netherlands 10.2%, China 6%, Sweden 5.5%, UK 5.4%, Costa Rica 5.1%, Spain 5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
4.768 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
8.74 million kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$2.536 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$10.89 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
6.3% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
4,447 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$11,900 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
24.9% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$17.4 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$39.33 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$23.42 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
56.1 (2003)

Exchange rates:
balboas (PAB) per US dollar - 1 (2008 est.), 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005), 1 (2004)
note: the US dollar is the legal currency

GDP - real growth rate:
8.3% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$3.054 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
1.392 million
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 32.8%, Netherlands Antilles 7.6%, China 5.6%, Japan 5.1%, Costa Rica 5.1%, South Korea 4.1% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
10.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6.2%
industry: 16.1%
services: 77.6% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
88,790 bbl/day (2005)

Exports:
$10.37 billion f.o.b.; note - includes the Colon Free Zone (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD)

Economy - overview:
Panama's dollarized economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for 80% of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and should be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 30% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are now too large to transverse the transoceanic crossway and should help to reduce the high unemployment rate. Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity. Panama has the second most unequal income distribution in Latin America. About 30% of the population lives in poverty. The government has implemented tax reforms, as well as social security reforms, and backs regional trade agreements and development of tourism. Not a CAFTA signatory, Panama in December 2006 independently negotiated a free trade agreement with the US, which, when implemented, will help promote the country's economic growth.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals

Industries:
construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling

Electricity - exports:
124.9 million kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
28.6% (2006 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.25% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$14.26 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
5.805 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Imports:
$15.18 billion f.o.b.
note: includes the Colon Free Zone (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 15%
industry: 18%
services: 67% (2006)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.655 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
92,790 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$NA

Public debt:
46.4% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$NA

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$6.219 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:
PAB; USD

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 43% (2003)

Exports - commodities:
bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing

Economic aid - recipient:
$19.54 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 37%
hydro: 61.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.7% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $6.09 billion
expenditures: $6 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
525,200 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
491,900 (2007)

Televisions:
510,000 (1997)

Internet country code:
.pa

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 101, FM 134, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios:
815,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.392 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
38 (including repeaters) (1998)

Telephone system:
general assessment: domestic and international facilities well developed
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is approaching 90 per 100 persons
international: country code - 507; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), the MAYA-1, and PAN-AM submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
6 (2000)

Internet hosts:
7,858 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Waterways:
800 km (includes 82 km Panama Canal) (2008)

Railways:
total: 355 km
standard gauge: 77 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 278 km 0.914-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Balboa, Colon, Cristobal

Heliports:
2 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 6,323
by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 2,143, cargo 1,208, carrier 13, chemical tanker 565, combination ore/oil 6, container 790, liquefied gas 189, passenger 44, passenger/cargo 71, petroleum tanker 557, refrigerated cargo 265, roll on/roll off 128, specialized tanker 29, vehicle carrier 313
foreign-owned: 5,394 (Albania 2, Argentina 8, Australia 4, Azerbaijan 1, Bahamas 9, Bangladesh 2, Belgium 2, British Virgin Islands 1, Bulgaria 3, Burma 1, Canada 18, Chile 12, China 532, Colombia 4, Croatia 3, Cuba 10, Cyprus 19, Denmark 40, Dominican Republic 1, Ecuador 4, Egypt 17, Estonia 5, Finland 2, France 5, Gabon 1, Germany 44, Gibraltar 1, Greece 510, Hong Kong 130, India 27, Indonesia 31, Iran 7, Israel 3, Italy 28, Japan 2,335, Jordan 13, North Korea 1, South Korea 303, Kuwait 2, Latvia 8, Lebanon 5, Lithuania 7, Malaysia 12, Maldives 1, Malta 3, Mexico 2, Monaco 16, Netherlands 14, Nigeria 10, Norway 89, Oman 2, Pakistan 9, Peru 16, Philippines 7, Poland 11, Portugal 9, Qatar 1, Romania 7, Russia 18, Saudi Arabia 16, Singapore 100, Spain 50, Sri Lanka 1, Sweden 6, Switzerland 25, Syria 32, Taiwan 320, Thailand 10, Tunisia 1, Turkey 94, Turks and Caicos Islands 1, Ukraine 10, UAE 109, UK 59, US 126, Venezuela 10, Vietnam 30, Yemen 6)
registered in other countries: 3 (Marshall Islands 1, Sierra Leone 1, Venezuela 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 54
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 29 (2007)

Roadways:
total: 11,978 km
paved: 4,300 km
unpaved: 7,343 km (2002)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 62
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 50 (2007)

Airports:
116 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 851,044 (2008 est.)

Military - note:
on 10 February 1990, the government of then President ENDARA abolished Panama's military and reformed the security apparatus by creating the Panamanian Public Forces; in October 1994, Panama's Legislative Assembly approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting the creation of a standing military force but allowing the temporary establishment of special police units to counter acts of "external aggression"

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 673,103 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
no regular military forces; Panamanian Public Forces or PPF includes the Panamanian National Police (PNP), National Maritime Service (NMS), and National Air Service (NAS) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 31,042
female: 29,969 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Panama is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; the majority of victims are Panamanian women and children trafficked within the country into the sex trade; rural children in Panama may be trafficked internally to urban areas for labor exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Panama is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly with respect to prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing human traffickers for their crimes, and for failing to provide adequate victim assistance (2008)

Illicit drugs:
major cocaine transshipment point and primary money-laundering center for narcotics revenue; money-laundering activity is especially heavy in the Colon Free Zone; offshore financial center; negligible signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem

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Quiz #2
  1. What famous canal was built at the narrowest point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans?
  Atlantic-Pacific Canal
  Transcontinental Canal
  Panama Canal
  Erie Canal
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