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Panama (Spanish: Panamá) is the southernmost country of Central America.

República de Panamá
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Pro Mundi Beneficio
(Latin: For the world's benefit)
Official language Spanish
Capital Panama City
President Mireya Moscoso (Martín Torrijos president elect)
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 115th
78,200 km²
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 131st
 - Declared
From Colombia
November 3, 1903
Currency Balboa
Time zone UTC -5
National anthem Himno Istmeño
Internet TLD .pa
Calling Code 507

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links


Main article: History of Panama

Panama was part of Spain's colonies in America until 1821 when it seceded and joined the Gran Colombia of Simón Bolívar. It can be argued that to a large extent, Panama's history has been a slave to its geography. This was true in its early history as well as in its more recent history.

Indeed much of Panama's domestic politics and international diplomacy in the 20th century was tied to the Panama Canal. At the turn of the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt's vision of an interoceanic seaway encouraged United States diplomatic efforts to facilitate a deal that would allow it to take over French canal operations started by Ferdinand de Lesseps. In November 1903, United States naval maneuverings helped the Panamanian rebels secede from Colombia in an almost bloodless revolution. In Panama City, on November 3, the rebels, headed by Amador Guerrero, declared Panama an independent Republic. Just over two weeks later, representatives of the fledgling republic signed the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty by which Panama granted rights to the United States to build and administer the Panama Canal. This treaty had been a contentious diplomatic issue between the United States and Panama until the signing of the Carter Torrijos treaty in 1977.

The Panamanian government was long mired in political instability and corruption and often the mandate of an elected president would terminate prematurely. In 1968, Gen. Omar Torrijos took over the reigns of government and was the virtual strongman of Panama until his death in an airplane accident in 1981. After Torrijos' death, power eventually became concentrated in the hands of Gen. Manuel Noriega. Relations with the United States soured by the end of the 1980s, particularly as a result of Noriega's role in international drug trade and money-laundering and the absence of free elections in Panama. The death of a U.S. Marine in Panama, and harassment of U.S. citizens in Panama, prompted a U.S. invasion in December 1989, dubbed Operation Just Cause. Noriega sought asylum in the Vatican diplomatic mission, but after a few days turned himself in to the American military. Noriega was immediately taken to Florida where he was formally charged and arrested by United States federal authorities. After Noriega's ouster, democratic rule with regular and open elections was reinstated in Panama, leading to an uncensored press and generally peaceful transitions of executive power. Nevertheless, charges of corruption and cronyism are still levelled against the government by opposition parties and press.

Under the Torrijos-Carter Treaty, on December 31, 1999, the United States returned all canal-related lands, buildings and infrastructure as well as full administration of the canal to Panama.


Main article: Politics of Panama

Panama is a representative democracy with three branches of government: executive and legislative branches elected by direct vote for 5-year terms, and an independently appointed judiciary. The executive branch includes a president and two vice presidents. The legislative branch consists of a 72-member unicameral Legislative Assembly. The judicial branch is organized under a nine-member Supreme Court and includes all tribunals and municipal courts. An autonomous Electoral Tribunal supervises voter registration, the election process, and the activities of political parties. Everyone over the age of 18 is required to vote, although those who fail to do so are not penalized.

General elections were held on May 2, 2004; the presidential contest was won by Martín Torrijos, son of the former strongman Omar Torrijos.


Main article: Provinces of Panama

Panama is divided into 9 provinces (provincias) and 5 territories (comarcas), marked by a *:


Main article: Geography of Panama

Panama in located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Its strategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming a land bridge connecting North and South America. By 1999, Panama controls the Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean.


Main article: Economy of Panama

Because of its key geographic location, Panama's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism. The hand-over of the canal and military installations by the US has given rise to new construction projects. The Moscoso administration inherited an economy that is much more structurally sound and liberalized than the one inherited by its predecessor.


Main article: Demographics of Panama

The culture, customs, and language of the Panamanians are predominantly Caribbean Spanish. Ethnically, the majority of the population is mestizo or mixed Spanish, Indian, Chinese, and West Indian. Spanish is the official and dominant language; English is a common second language spoken by the West Indians and by many in business and the professions. More than half the population lives in the Panama CityColón metropolitan corridor.


Main article: Culture of Panama

Miscellaneous topics

External links

[ Edit {}] Countries in North America
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago | United States
Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | Greenland | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Saint-Pierre and Miquelon | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands | British Virgin Islands