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Panama

Population: 3 608 431

GDP: 40 620 000 000.00 $

Description

 

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 (estimated to cost $5.3 billion) to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal's capacity, is expected to be completed in 2015.

Population

 

Population: 3,608,431 (2014).

 

Nationality: noun: Panamanian(s), adjective: Panamanian.

 

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

 

Languages: Spanish (official), English 14%. Many Panamanians are bilingual.

 

Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%.

GDP

 

GDP: $ 40 620 000 000.00 (2013).

Military Organization

 

No regular military forces; Panamanian Public Security Forces (subordinate to the Ministry of Public Security), comprising the National Police (PNP), National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), National Border Service (SENAFRONT).

 

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".

Conflicts and Disputes

 

Organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama.

 

Refugees (country of origin): 15,723 (Colombia) (2012).

 

Panama is 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.

Geographical Information and Map

 

Capital: Panama City

 

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

 

Geographic coordinates:

9 00 N, 80 00 W

 

Area:

total: 75,420 sq km

land: 74,340 sq km

water: 1,080 sq km

 

Land boundaries:

total: 555 km

border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km

 

Coastline: 2,490 km.

 

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