A Map of Panama


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 US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914 built the Panama Canal. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the intervening years.
Location: Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. 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.

Return to Visiting Locations
 Flag for Panama

Climate and Terrain: 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. Natural resources: Copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower.
People: Population: 2,882,329. 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 bilingual. Government type: Constitutional democracy.
Government: Capital: Panama. Independence: 3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain 28 November 1821).

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. GDP - composition by sector: Agriculture: 7%, industry: 17%, services: 76%.
Statistics: Telephones - main lines in use: 396,000. Telephones - mobile cellular: 17,000. Radio broadcast stations: AM 101, FM 134. Radios: 815,000. Television broadcast stations: 38 (including repeaters). Televisions: 510,000. Internet users: 45,000. Railways: Total: 355 km. Highways: Total: 11,592 km, paved: 4,079 km, unpaved: 7,513 km. Airports: 107, with paved runways: 42, with unpaved runways: 65.