Make your own free website on


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 Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. On 7 September 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of 1999. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the intervening years. 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 turned over to Panama by or on 31 December 1999.

Area: total: 78,200 sq km
land: 75,990 sq km
water: 2,210 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 555 km
border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km
Coastline: 2,490 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
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 de Chiriqui 3,475 m

Natural resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 7%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 44%
other: 27% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 320 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA
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
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
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: 2,845,647 (July 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.13% (male 436,661; female 420,625)
15-64 years: 63.86% (male 920,787; female 896,520)
65 years and over: 6.01% (male 81,682; female 89,372) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.3% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 19.06 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate: 4.95 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 20.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.68 years
male: 72.94 years
female: 78.53 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.27 children born/woman (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.54% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 24,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,200 (1999 est.)

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: 90.8%
male: 91.4%
female: 90.2% (1995 est.)

Government type: constitutional democracy
Capital: Panama
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and one territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*, 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 and 1994
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 Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO Rodriguez (since 1 September 1999); First Vice President Arturo Ulises VALLARINO (since 1 September 1999); Second Vice President Dominador "Kaiser" Baldonero BAZAN Jimenez (since 1 September 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government: President Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO Rodriguez (since 1 September 1999); First Vice President Arturo Ulises VALLARINO (since 1 September 1999); Second Vice President Dominador "Kaiser" Baldonero BAZAN Jimenez (since 1 September 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
Elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 2 May 1999 (next to be held NA May 2004)
Election results: Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO Rodriguez elected president; percent of vote - Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO Rodriguez (PA) 44%, Martin TORRIJOS (PRD) 37%
Note: government coalition - PA, MOLIRENA, Democratic Change, MORENA, PLN, PS

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (71 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Elections: last held 2 May 1999 (next to be held NA May 2004)
Election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PRD 34, PA 18, PDC 5, PS 4, MOLIRENA 3, PLN 3, Democratic Change 2, PRC 1, MORENA 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: Arnulfista Party or PA [Mireya Elisa MOSCOSO Rodriguez]; Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Ruben AROSEMENA]; Civic Renewal Party or PRC [Serguei DE LA ROSA]; Democratic Change [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Martin TORRIJOS]; National Liberal Party or PLN [Raul ARANGO Gasteazopo]; National Renovation Movement or MORENA [Pedro VALLARINO Cox]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Ramon MORALES]; Solidarity Party or PS [Samuel LEWIS Galindo]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Chamber of Commerce; National Civic Crusade; National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP
International organization participation: CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

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, high oil prices, and the withdrawal of US military forces held back economic growth in 2000. The government plans public works programs, tax reforms, and new regional trade agreements in order to stimulate growth in 2001.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $16.6 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.5% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $6,000 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 7%
industry: 16.5%
services: 76.5% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: 37% (1999 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.8% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 1.1 million (2000 est.)
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 20.8%, industry 18%, services 61.2% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate: 13% (2000 est.)

Budget: revenues: $2.8 billion
expenditures: $2.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $471 million (2000 est.)
Industries: construction, petroleum refining, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling
Industrial production growth rate: 2% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production: 4.413 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 27.78%
hydro: 71.65%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.57% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 4.049 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 95 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 40 million kWh (1999)

Agriculture - products: bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp
Exports: $5.7 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing
Exports - partners: US 42%, Germany 11%, Costa Rica 5%, Benelux 4%, Italy 4% (1999)
Imports: $6.9 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: capital goods, crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals
Imports - partners: US 39%, Colon Free Zone 14%, Japan 8%, Ecuador 6%, Mexico 5% (1999)
Debt - external: $7.56 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $197.1 million (1995)
Currency: balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD)
Exchange rates: balboas per US dollar - 1.000 (fixed rate)
Fiscal year: calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use: 396,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 17,000 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: domestic and international facilities well developed
domestic: NA
international: 1 coaxial submarine cable; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System
Radio broadcast stations: AM 101, FM 134, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 815,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 38 (including repeaters) (1998)
Televisions: 510,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .pa
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (2000)
Internet users: 45,000 (2000)

Railways: total: 355 km
broad gauge: 76 km 1.524-m gauge
narrow gauge: 279 km 0.914-m gauge
Highways: total: 11,592 km
paved: 4,079 km (including 30 km of expressways)
unpaved: 7,513 km (2000)
Waterways: 882 km
note: 800 km navigable by shallow draft vessels; 82 km Panama Canal
Pipelines: crude oil 130 km (2001)
Ports and harbors: Balboa, Cristobal, Coco Solo, Manzanillo (part of Colon area), Vacamonte
Merchant marine: total: 4,711 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 111,515,984 GRT/169,655,363 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1,381, cargo 925, chemical tanker 314, combination bulk 71, combination ore/oil 18, container 525, liquefied gas 193, livestock carrier 5, multi-functional large-load carrier 12, passenger 41, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 544, railcar carrier 2, refrigerated cargo 297, roll on/roll off 106, short-sea passenger 36, specialized tanker 29, vehicle carrier 208
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Argentina 11, Australia 1, Austria 1, Bermuda 21, Belgium 4, The Bahamas 7, Brazil 2, Canada 4, China 154, Chile 4, Cayman Islands 1, Colombia 6, Cuba 7, Cyprus 4, Denmark 12, Egypt 8, Ireland 2, Equatorial Guinea 1, Finland 1, France 4, Germany 17, Greece 248, Hong Kong 158, Honduras 2, Croatia 3, Indonesia 40, India 11, Iran 1, Israel 3, Italy 7, Japan 1,007, Jordan 2, South Korea 223, Latvia 4, Lithuania 1, Liberia 2, Monaco 43, Malta 1, Mexico 5, Malaysia 6, Netherlands 6, Norway 36, Netherlands Antilles 1, Peru 5, Pakistan 1, Portugal 5, Philippines 10, Russia 6, Saudi Arabia 6, Seychelles 2, South Africa 5, Singapore 73, Spain 35, Sweden 4, Syria 11, Switzerland 53, UAE 11, Thailand 15, Taiwan 170, UK 18, US 79, Venezuela 18, Samoa 1 (2000 est.)
Airports: 107 (2000 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 42
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 22 (2000 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 65
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 52 (2000 est.)

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)
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 775,966 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 530,916 (2001 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $128 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.3% (FY99)
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: none
Illicit drugs: major cocaine transshipment point and major drug money-laundering center; no recent signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem; Panama was cited by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) an international organization that includes the US Government, for its lack of cooperation in the fight against international money laundering