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The World Factbook. 2008.


Flag of Panama                                Map of Panama
Background:Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador – 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 to expand the Canal. The project, which is to begin in 2007 and could double the Canal’s capacity, is expected to be completed in 2014-15.
Location:Central 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
land: 75,990 sq km
water: 2,210 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:territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
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 Baru 3,475 m
Natural resources:copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
Land use:arable land: 7.26%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 90.79% (2005)
Irrigated land:430 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:148 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
per capita: 254 cu m/yr (2000)
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, 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
Population:3,242,173 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 30% (male 496,195/female 476,508)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 1,044,139/female 1,016,805)
65 years and over: 6.4% (male 97,365/female 111,161) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 26.4 years
male: 26 years
female: 26.7 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:1.564% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:21.45 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:5.44 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:-0.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.041 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.027 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.876 male(s)/female
total population: 1.021 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 15.96 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 17.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 75.19 years
male: 72.69 years
female: 77.8 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.66 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:0.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:16,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—deaths:less than 500 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
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 bilingual
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 92.5%
female: 91.2% (2000 census)
Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
local short form: Panama
Government type:constitutional democracy
Capital:name: Panama
geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:9 provinces (provincias, singular – provincia) and 1 territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*(Kuna Yala), 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, 1994, and 2004
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 Martin TORRIJOS Espino (since 1 September 2004); First Vice President Samuel LEWIS Navarro (since 1 September 2004); Second Vice President Ruben AROSEMENA Valdes (since 1 September 2004); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Martin TORRIJOS Espino (since 1 September 2004); First Vice President Samuel LEWIS Navarro (since 1 September 2004); Second Vice President Ruben AROSEMENA Valdes (since 1 September 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (eligible for two more terms); election last held 2 May 2004 (next to be held on 3 May 2009); note – beginning in 2009, Panama will have only one vice president.
election results: Martin TORRIJOS Espino elected president; percent of vote – Martin TORRIJOS Espino 47.5%, Guillermo ENDARA Galimany 30.6%, Jose Miguel ALEMAN 17%, Ricardo MARTINELLI 4.9%
note: government coalition – PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party), PP (Popular Party)
Legislative branch:unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (78 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); note – in 2009, the number of seats will change to 71
elections: last held 2 May 2004 (next to be held 3 May 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PRD 41, PA 17, PS 9, MOLIRENA 4, CD 3, PLN 3, PP 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
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:Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Hugo GUIRAUD]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Gisela CHUNG]; Panamenista Party or PA [Juan Carlos VARELA] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or PU (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Jose Raul MULINO and Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Rene ORILLAC] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
Political pressure groups and leaders:Chamber of Commerce; National Civic Crusade; National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP
International organization participation:BCIE, CAN (observer), CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Federico HUMBERT Arias
chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
FAX: [1] (202) 483-8416
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador William A. EATON
embassy: Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas Panama, Apartado Postal 0816-02561, Zona 5, 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—overview:Panama’s dollarized economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-fourths of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and should be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion (about 30% of current GDP). The expansion project will more than double the Canal’s capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are now too large to transverse the transoceanic crossway and should help to reduce the high unemployment rate. The government has implemented tax reforms, as well as social security reforms, and backs regional trade agreements and development of tourism. Not a CAFTA signatory, Panama in December 2006 independently negotiated a free trade agreement with the US, which, when implemented, will help promote the country’s economic growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$29.14 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$19.28 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:7.8% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$9,000 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 6.8%
industry: 16.2%
services: 77% (2007 est.)
Labor force:1.471 million
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2007 est.)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 15%
industry: 18%
services: 67% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate:7.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:37% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 43% (2003)
Distribution of family income—Gini index:56.1 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):5.1% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):20.5% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $5.206 billion
expenditures: $5.089 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:53.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture—products:bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp
Industries:construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling
Industrial production growth rate:7.8% (2007 est.)
Electricity—production:5.661 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:4.735 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:51 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:55 million kWh (2005)
Oil—production:0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—consumption:93,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—exports:4,140 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—imports:92,170 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—proved reserves:0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:$-861 million (2007 est.)
Exports:$9.662 billion f.o.b.; note – includes the Colon Free Zone (2007 est.)
Exports—commodities:bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing
Exports—partners:US 39.8%, Spain 8.1%, Netherlands 6.7%, Sweden 5.6%, Costa Rica 4.5% (2006)
Imports:$12.1 billion f.o.b. (includes the Colon Free Zone) (2007 est.)
Imports—commodities:capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals
Imports—partners:US 27%, Netherlands Antilles 10.1%, Costa Rica 5.1%, Japan 4.7% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$1.26 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt—external:$10.56 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment—at home:$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment—abroad:$NA
Market value of publicly traded shares:$5.074 billion (2005)
Economic aid—recipient:$19.54 million (2005)
Currency (code):balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD)
Exchange rates:balboas per US dollar – 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005), 1 (2004), 1 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
Telephones—main lines in use:432,900 (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:1.694 million (2005)
Telephone system:general assessment: domestic and international facilities well developed
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone density is approaching 70 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code – 507; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), the MAYA-1, and PAN-AM submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US, and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System
Radio broadcast stations:AM 101, FM 134, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:38 (including repeaters) (1998)
Internet country
Internet hosts:7,078 (2007)
Internet users:220,000 (2006)
Airports:116 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 54
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 29 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 62
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 50 (2007)
Heliports:2 (2007)
Railways:total: 355 km
standard gauge: 77 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 278 km 0.914-m gauge (2006)
Roadways:total: 11,643 km
paved: 4,028 km
unpaved: 7,615 km (2000)
Waterways:800 km (includes 82 km Panama Canal) (2007)
Merchant marine:total: 5,764 ships (1000 GRT or over) 159,649,801 GRT/240,190,316 DWT
by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 1,940, cargo 1,034, carrier 3, chemical tanker 507, combination ore/oil 6, container 710, liquefied gas 191, livestock carrier 7, passenger 46, passenger/cargo 72, petroleum tanker 522, refrigerated cargo 288, roll on/roll off 129, specialized tanker 22, vehicle carrier 285
foreign-owned: 4,949 (Albania 1, Argentina 8, Australia 4, Bahamas 2, Bangladesh 1, Belgium 11, Bulgaria 1, Canada 17, Chile 8, China 473, Colombia 4, Croatia 6, Cuba 11, Cyprus 15, Denmark 32, Dominican Republic 1, Ecuador 2, Egypt 13, Estonia 3, France 15, Gabon 1, Germany 38, Greece 505, Hong Kong 137, India 25, Indonesia 37, Iran 4, Ireland 1, Israel 2, Italy 10, Jamaica 1, Japan 2,151, Jordan 11, South Korea 316, Kuwait 1, Latvia 5, Lebanon 3, Lithuania 5, Malaysia 14, Maldives 1, Malta 2, Mexico 4, Monaco 11, Netherlands 14, Nigeria 6, Norway 60, Oman 1, Pakistan 5, Peru 15, Philippines 12, Poland 15, Portugal 9, Qatar 1, Romania 8, Russia 9, Saudi Arabia 14, Singapore 83, Spain 61, Sri Lanka 3, Sweden 9, Switzerland 26, Syria 24, Taiwan 306, Thailand 10, Turkey 53, Turks and Caicos Islands 1, Ukraine 8, UAE 108, UK 35, US 115, Venezuela 10, Vietnam 10, Yemen 5)
registered in other countries: 1 (Venezuela 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Balboa, Colon, Cristobal
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)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 751,065 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 591,604 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 29,724
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:1% (2006)
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
Disputes—international:organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama
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