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Panama Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Panama City (830 000)

Other Cities: Colon (140 000), David (100 000).

Local Time
: UTC -5h

Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Panama occupies the southeastern end of the isthmus forming the land bridge between North and South America.
Area: 78 200 sq. km. (30 193 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Mountainous (highest elevation Cerro Volcan, 3,475 m.--11,468 ft.), upland plains; coastal areas.

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

Border countries: Colombia, Costa Rica

Type: Constitutional democracy.
Independence: 3 November 1903 (from Colombia).
Constitution: 11 October 1972; amended 1983 and 1994 and reformed in 2004.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Panamanian(s).
Population: 3 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.31%.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European ancestry) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, Caucasian 10%, Amerindian 6%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 84%, Protestant 15%, other 1%.
Languages: Spanish (official); 14% speak English as their native tongue; various indigenous languages. Many Panamanians are bilingual.
Literacy: 93%


Currency: Balboa (PAB); US Dollar (USD)

Natural resources: Copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower.

Agriculture products: Bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp.

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

Exports partners:
USA 12.2%, Nigeria 9.4%, Germany 8.4%, South Korea 8.2%, El Salvador 5.7%, Peru 5.1%, Costa Rica 5.1%, Japan 4.1% (2004)

Imports partners: Japan 32.9%, China 10.6%, USA 9.8%, South Korea 7.2%, Singapore 7.1%, Italy 4.5% (2004)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Panama

República de Panamá

Presidencia de la República de Panamá

Asamblea Legislativa de Panamá

Panama e-government

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Diplomatic Missions
Embajada de Panamá

Panama's Diplomatic Missions Abroad

Map of Panama

Map of Central America and the Caribbean



Background:  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. On 7 September 1977, an
agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to
Panama by the end of 1999. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing
responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the intervening
years. 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 turned over to Panama by or on 31 December 1999.

Geography Panama

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

Geographic coordinates:  9 00 N, 80 00 W

Map references:  Central America and the Caribbean

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

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than South Carolina

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

Coastline:  2,490 km

Maritime claims:   200 NM territorial sea: Climate:  tropical maritime;
hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry
season (January to May)

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

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

Natural resources:  copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Land use:  arable land: 7% permanent crops: 2% other: 91% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  320 sq km (1998 est.)

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

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

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

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

People Panama

Population:  2,882,329 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 29.6% (male 433,494; female 418,120) 15-64
years: 64.3% (male 939,550; female 914,646) 65 years and over: 6.1%
(male 84,130; female 92,389) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  1.26% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  18.6 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  4.96 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -1.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.91 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  19.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   78.74 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.22 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  1.54% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  24,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  1,200 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Panamanian(s) adjective: Panamanian

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

Religions:  Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

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

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 90.8% male: 91.4% female: 90.2% (1995 est.)

Government Panama

Country name:   Republic of Panama conventional short form: Government
type:  constitutional democracy

Capital:  Panama

Administrative divisions:  9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia)
and 1 territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon,
Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*, and Veraguas

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

National holiday:  Independence Day, 3 November (1903)

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

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

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO
Rodriguez (since 1 September 1999); First Vice President Arturo Ulises
VALLARINO (since 1 September 1999); Second Vice President Dominador
"Kaiser" Baldonero BAZAN Jimenez (since 1 September 1999); note - the
president is both the chief of state and head of government head of
government: President Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO Rodriguez (since 1 September
1999); First Vice President Arturo Ulises VALLARINO (since 1 September
1999); Second Vice President Dominador "Kaiser" Baldonero BAZAN Jimenez
(since 1 September 1999); note - the president is both the chief of
state and head of government cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by
popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 2 May 1999 (next to
be held NA May 2004) note:  PS election results: Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO
Rodriguez elected president; percent of vote - Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO
Rodriguez (PA) 44%, Martin TORRIJOS (PRD) 37%

Legislative branch:  unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea
Legislativa (71 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve
five-year terms) election results:  PS 4, MOLIRENA 3, PLN 3, Democratic
Change 2, PRC 1, MORENA 1 note:  basis while districts located in more
populous towns and cities elect multiple legislators by means of a
proportion-based formula elections: 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

Political parties and leaders:  Arnulfista Party or PA [Mireya Elisa
MOSCOSO Rodriguez]; Civic Renewal Party or PRC [Serguei DE LA ROSA];
Democratic Change [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party
or PRD [Martin TORRIJOS]; National Liberal Party or PLN [Raul ARANGO
Gasteazopo]; National Renovation Movement or MORENA [Pedro VALLARINO Cox];
Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Ramon MORALES];
Popular Party or PP (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC) [Ruben
AROSEMENA]; Solidarity Party or PS [Samuel LEWIS Galindo]

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

International organization participation:  CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB,
Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer),

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Guillermo "Billy" FORD FAX: [1] (202) 483-8416 consulate(s) general:
Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San
Francisco, Tampa telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407 chancery: 2862 McGill
Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
(vacant); Charge d'Affaires Frederick A.  BECKER embassy: Avenida Balboa
and Calle 37, Apartado Postal 6959, Panama City 5 mailing address:
American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002 telephone: [507]
207-7000 FAX: [507] 227-1964

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

Economy Panama

Economy - overview:  Panama's economy is based primarily on a
well-developed services sector that accounts for three-fourths of
GDP. Services include the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone,
insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. A slump
in Colon Free Zone and agricultural exports, the global slowdown,
and the withdrawal of US military forces held back economic growth in
2000-01. The government plans public works programs, tax reforms, and
new regional trade agreements in order to stimulate growth.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $16.9 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  1.4% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $5,900 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 7% industry: 17% services: 76%
(2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:  37% (1999 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 35.7% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  48.5 (1997)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  1% (2000 est.)

Labor force:  1.1 million (2000 est.)  note: shortage of skilled labor,
but an oversupply of unskilled labor

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 20.8%, industry 18%, services
61.2% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate:  13% (2000 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $1.9 billion expenditures: $2 billion, including
capital expenditures of $471 million (2000 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate:  2% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:  4.894 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 29.49% hydro: 69.11%
other: 1.4% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  4.651 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  20 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  120 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane,
vegetables; livestock; shrimp

Exports:  $5.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

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

Exports - partners:  US 45.9%, Sweden 8.1%, Benelux 5.3%, Costa Rica 5.1%
(2000 est.)

Imports:  $6.7 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

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

Imports - partners:  US 33.1%, Ecuador 7.2%, Venezuela 6.6%, Japan 5.5%
(2000 est.)

Debt - external:  $7.6 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $197.1 million (1995)

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

Currency code:  PAB; USD

Exchange rates:  balboas per US dollar - 1.000 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Panama

Telephones - main lines in use:  396,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  17,000 (1997)

Telephone system:  general assessment: domestic and international
facilities well developed domestic: NA international: 1 coaxial submarine
cable; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected
to the Central American Microwave System

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

Radios:  815,000 (1997)

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

Televisions:  510,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .pa

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  6 (2000)

Internet users:  45,000 (2000)

Transportation Panama

Railways:  total: 355 km broad gauge: 76 km 1.524-m gauge narrow gauge:
279 km 0.914-m gauge (2001)

Highways:   4,079 km (including 30 km of expressways) unpaved: Waterways:
882 km note: 800 km navigable by shallow draft vessels; 82 km Panama Canal

Pipelines:  crude oil 130 km (2001)

Ports and harbors:  Balboa, Cristobal, Coco Solo, Manzanillo (part of
Colon area), Vacamonte

Merchant marine:  total: 4,838 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling
118,878,358 GRT/180,588,102 DWT ships by type: bulk 1,445, cargo 907,
chemical tanker 337, combination bulk 73, combination ore/oil 18,
container 560, liquefied gas 207, livestock carrier 5, multi-functional
large-load carrier 12, passenger 38, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker
542, railcar carrier 2, refrigerated cargo 283, roll on/roll off 104,
short-sea passenger 38, specialized tanker 34, vehicle carrier 230
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of
convenience: Albania 2, Angola 1, Antigua and Barbuda 1, Argentina 11,
Australia 13, Austria 2, Bahamas, The 5, Belgium 2, Belize 6, Brazil 6,
British Virgin Islands 8, Cambodia 1, Canada 9, Chile 12, China 259,
Colombia 14, Croatia 2, Cuba 20, Cyprus 3, Denmark 3, Dominican Republic
1, Ecuador 3, Egypt 16, Equatorial Guinea 1, France 9, Germany 72, Greece
523, Haiti 1, Honduras 3, Hong Kong 299, Iceland 1, India 18, Indonesia
48, Ireland 1, Israel 5, Italy 9, Japan 1642, Kenya 1, Kuwait 2, Latvia
8, Liberia 5, Lithuania 1, Malaysia 18, Malta 2, Marshall Islands 1,
Mexico 8, Monaco 112, Netherlands 19, Netherlands Antilles 1, Nigeria 3,
Norway 98, Paraguay 1, Peru 15, Philippines 49, Poland 5, Portugal 7,
Puerto Rico 2, Romania 7, Russia 12, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint
Vincent and the Grenadines 5, Saudi Arabia 4, Seychelles 1, Singapore
112, South Africa 3, South Korea 342, Spain 52, Sri Lanka 3, Sudan 1,
Sweden 2, Switzerland 81, Taiwan 334, Thailand 14, Trinidad and Tobago 1,
Tunisia 1, Turkey 4, Ukraine 1, United Arab Emirates 54, United Kingdom
73, United States 115, Venezuela 6, Virgin Islands (UK) 8 (2002 est.)

Airports:  107 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 42 over 3,047 m: 1 2,438 to 3,047
m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 14 under 914 m: 21 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 65 914 to 1,523 m: 12 under
914 m: 53 (2001)

Military Panama

Military branches:  an amendment to the Constitution abolished the armed
forces, but there are security forces (Panamanian Public Forces or PPF
includes the Panamanian National Police, National Maritime Service,
and National Air Service)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 789,973 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 540,052
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $128 million (FY99)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1.3% (FY99)

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

Transnational Issues Panama

Disputes - international:  none

Illicit drugs:  major cocaine transshipment point and major drug
money-laundering center; no recent signs of coca cultivation; monitoring
of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a
major problem

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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