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Flag of Panama
Map of Panama
Introduction Panama
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
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
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
2,490 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
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: 6.72%
permanent crops: 2.08%
other: 91.2% (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
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:
total population: 75.89 years
female: 78.74 years (2002 est.)
male: 73.14 years
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.)
noun: Panamanian(s)
adjective: Panamanian
Ethnic groups:
mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
Spanish (official), English 14%
note: many Panamanians bilingual
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:
conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
Government type:
constitutional democracy
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
3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain 28 November 1821)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 3 November (1903)
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
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: government coalition - PA, MOLIRENA, Democratic Change, MORENA, PLN, 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: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PRD 34, PA 18, PDC 5, PS 4, MOLIRENA 3, PLN 3, Democratic Change 2, PRC 1, MORENA 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
elections: last held 2 May 1999 (next to be held NA May 2004)
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:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roberto ALFARO
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 Linda Ellen WATT
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.
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%
highest 10%: 36% (1997) (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
49 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
1.1 million
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 21%, industry 18%, services 61% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate:
13% (2000 est.)
revenues: $1.9 billion
expenditures: $2 billion, including capital expenditures of $471 million (2000 est.)
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%
hydro: 69%
other: 1% (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
$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.)
$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) (1995)
balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
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)
815,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
38 (including repeaters) (1998)
510,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
6 (2000)
Internet users:
45,000 (2000)
Transportation Panama
total: 355 km
broad gauge: 76 km 1.524-m gauge
narrow gauge: 279 km 0.914-m gauge (2001)
total: 11,592 km
paved: 4,079 km (including 30 km of expressways)
unpaved: 7,513 km (2000)
882 km
note: 800 km navigable by shallow draft vessels; 82 km Panama Canal
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.)
107 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 41
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 21 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 62
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 50 (2002)
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 aggression"
Transnational Issues Panama
Disputes - international:
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

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003