OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Panama
CAPITAL: Panama City
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 77,046 Sq Km (29,748 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 2,882,000
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Panama is located on the Isthmus
of Panama in Central America. It is bound by the Caribbean
Sea to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south, Costa
Rica to the west and Colombia to the east. The country is
divided into five geographical regions. (1.) Darien which
comprises 33% of the land area and is mostly underdeveloped
and underpopulated. (2.) The Central Isthmus which is a
low seat of land that bisects the Isthmus at the Canal zone.
(3.) Central Panama which lies between the Continental Divide
and the Pacific Ocean. (4.) Chiriqui which includes the
hills of the Las Palmas Peninsula and the Pacific side of
the Cordillera Central and (5.) Atlantic Panama which includes
the Atlantic side of the Continental Divide, west of the
Central Isthmus. The country has over 500 rivers with the
largest being the Tuira and Bayano or Chepo. Major Cities
(pop. est.); Panama City 450,700, San Miguel 293,600, David
69,700, Colon 57,900 (1993). Land Use; forested 44%, pastures
20%, agricultural-cultivated 9%, other 27% (1993).
CLIMATE: Panama has a tropical climate with little seasonal variation.
The rainy season is from April to December and humidity is around 80% all
year round. The prevailing winds are the northerlies and north easterlies
throughout most of the year and the south westerlies during Autumn. Average
annual precipitation varies from 1,780 mm (70 inches) to 2,540 (100 inches)
depending on the region. Average temperature ranges in Colon are from 22
degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) to 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees
PEOPLE: Around 60% of the population are Mestizos, also called
Panamenos, who are of mixed AmerIndian and Spanish descent. The remainder
are Antillean Negroes and Mulattoes who account for 20% of the population,
while Whites account for 10% and full-blooded AmerIndians for 8% which
include the Guayami, Choco and Cuna.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 33 persons per sq km (85
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 53.4% urban, 46.6% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 50.5% male, 49.5% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
70.2 years male, 74.1 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 35% under 15,
30% 15 to 29, 18% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 25.5 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 5.2 per 1,000 (1992). Increase
Rate; 20.3 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 21.3 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 84% of the population Roman
Catholic while 5% are Protestant. The principal religious minority are
Muslims which constitute around 5% of the population.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is also the
national language while English is also widely understood.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
17.4%, incomplete primary 27.3%, primary 23.4%, secondary 23.5%, higher
8.4% (1980). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 1,385,000 or
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Many Panamanians opposed US control
of the Panama Canal and in 1959 there were demonstrations in protest to
the US flag being flown in the Canal zone. In 1968 the "Supreme leader
of the Panamanian Revolution", Col. Omar Torrijos Herrera banned political
parties and introduced a number of social reforms. Col. Torrijos also negotiated
two new Panama Canal Treaties that allowed for a transition of jurisdiction
by the year 2000 while the US retained the right for military intervention
to keep the Canal open if necessary. In 1978 political parties were again
legalized in preparation for a civilian government. In July 1981 Col. Torrijos
was killed in a plane crash believed to be engineered by Gen. Manuel Antonio
Noriega Morena. In May 1984 Nicolas Ardito Barletta was elected President
and resigned in Sept 1985. Pres. Ardito was replaced by Eric Arturo Delvalle
who in turn was replaced by Manuel Solis Palma after an abortive attempt
to dismiss Gen. Noriega who had been indicted by the US on drug related
charges. In May 1989 disputed presidential elections were annulled by Gen.
Noriega on the grounds of international interference and in Oct. 1989 a
coup attempt to oust Noriega failed. In Nov. 1989 Noriega was declared
the Maximum Leader by the National Assembly. On Dec. 20, 1989 the US invaded
Panama and Guillermo Endara Galimany, the candidate said to have won the
1989 elections, was installed as the "Constitution President".
On Jan 3, 1990 Gen. Noriega surrendered to US troops and was flown to the
US to await trial. In Dec 1990 US troops were called in to end a rebel
uprising. In 1991 Pres. Endara alleged that the Christian Democrats, partners
of the four-party center-right ruling coalition, were importing arms and
organizing an intelligence network which resulted in a Cabinet reshuffle
with five Christian Democrat ministers being replaced. In June 1991 there
were strikes and demonstrations by students protesting against government
policies and price increases, and some 2,000 demonstrators took to the
streets in Panama City demanding compensation for the families of 4,000
people killed during the 1989 US invasion. In July 1991 the Congress approved
a Legal Assistance Agreement which allowed for greater US access to banking
information on drug traffickers. Also in 1991 there were marked increases
in corruption and record seizures of cocaine while it was alleged that
Pres. Endara's law firm was linked with several companies owned by US-Cuban
drug traffickers. In 1992 Pres. Endara announced the establishment of a
new anti-terrorist group called the Elite Tactical Weapons Unit (ETWA)
to combat rising crime and protect the government. On Feb. 7, 1992 Pres.
Endara announced that the ETWA had foiled a planned coup and also in Feb.
1992 the US Secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney visited Panama to inspect
US military bases. In June 1992 US Pres. George Bush visited Panama amidst
demonstrations by thousands of people angry over unfulfilled US promises
of reparation and reconstruction following their 1989 invasion. The protesters
were involved in several violent attacks on the US military and were later
dispersed by the police using tear gas. On Nov. 15, 1992 a national referendum
on government reforms including the abolishment of the armed forces resulted
a 64% "no" vote. Also in 1992 there were growing demands for
a referendum on the Panama Canal Treaty in which the US control of the
canal was to be returned to Panama in 1999, with the majority of the population
supporting the continuation of the US military presence fearing that thousands
of jobs would be lost if they were removed. In Jan. 1993 politicians demanded
stronger measures and penalties to combat rising armed robbery and murder.
On Feb. 19, 1993 Pres. Endara signed the Belize Declaration which attempted
to limit the trafficking of drugs in Central America. In April 1993 proposed
amnesty legislation for political prisoners caused deep rifts within the
government. In Sept. 1993 seven people accused of the murder of Hugo Spadafora,
a former Noriega opponent were acquitted that lead to five days of protest,
although in Oct. 1993 Noreiga and two former soldiers were found guilty
of the murder. Also in 1993 the government experience protests from six
indigenous groups demanding title to their land and also several strikes
by transport, agriculture and civil-service workers.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Balboa (B) divided into
100 Centisimos. Additionally,
US currency is also accepted as a legal tender
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $6,621,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $3,709,000,000 (1993). Imports; B 2,187,000,000 (1993). Exports;
B 508,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $207,000,000 (1992). Balance
of Trade; B -1,594,100,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 858,509
or 34.8% of total population (1991). Unemployed; 12.0% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
Venezuela, Japan and Germany.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cattle, Coffee, Maize, Rice, Shrimps,
Sugar Cane, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Clothing, Construction, Financial
Services, Food Processing, Forestry, Furniture, Metal Working, Petroleum
MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Coffee, Petroleum Products, Shrimps, Sugar.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 240 km (149 mi) (1989), passenger-km
N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 9,690 km (6,021 mi) (1989). Vehicles;
cars 176,708 (1989), trucks and buses 49,169 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels
4,748 (1990), deadweight tonnage 62,183,949 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km
332,353,000 (206,515,000 passenger-mi) (1987), cargo ton-km 8,013,000 (5,488,000
short ton-mi) (1987).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 8 with a total circulation
of 223,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 527,000 (1994). Television; receivers
204,539 (1994). Telephones; units 261,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 11,000 (1994) total active national police as well
as 7,100 US duty personnel while military expenditure accounts for 3.4%
(1989) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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