[Country map of Panama]



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

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 78,200 sq km
land area: 75,990 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land boundaries: total 555 km, Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km

Coastline: 2,490 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical; 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

Land use:
arable land: 6%
permanent crops: 2%
meadows and pastures: 15%
forest and woodland: 54%
other: 23%

Irrigated land: 320 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Tropical Timber 94

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: 2,680,903 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34% (female 439,491; male 458,817)
15-64 years: 61% (female 812,876; male 823,124)
65 years and over: 5% (female 74,672; male 71,923) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.9% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 24.12 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.79 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 15.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.2 years
male: 72.57 years
female: 77.97 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.8 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Panamanian(s)
adjective: Panamanian

Ethnic divisions: mestizo (mixed Indian and European ancestry) 70%, West Indian 14%, white 10%, Indian 6%

Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

Languages: Spanish (official), English 14%
note: many Panamanians bilingual

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990)
total population: 89%
male: 89%
female: 88%

Labor force: 979,000 (1994 est.)
by occupation: government and community services 31.8%, agriculture, hunting, and fishing 26.8%, commerce, restaurants, and hotels 16.4%, manufacturing and mining 9.4%, construction 3.2%, transportation and communications 6.2%, finance, insurance, and real estate 4.3%
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor


conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
local short form: Panama

Digraph: PM

Type: constitutional republic

Capital: Panama

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*, 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 April 1983

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 and head of government: President Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES Gonzalez Revilla (since 1 September 1994, elected 8 May 1994); First Vice President Tomas Gabriel ALTAMIRANO DUQUE (since 1 September 1994); Second Vice President Felipe Alejandro VIRZI Lopez (since 1 September 1994 election last held 8 May 1994 (next to be held 9 May 1999); results - Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES (PRD) 33%, Mireya MOSCOSO DE GRUBER (PA) 29%, Ruben BLADES (MPE) 17%, Ruben Dario CARLES (MOLIRENA) 16%
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa): 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; elections last held 8 May 1994 (next to be held 9 May 1999); results - percent of vote by party NA ; seats - (72 total) PRD 32, PS 4, PALA 1, PA 14, MPE 6, MOLIRENA 4, PLA 3, PRC 3, PL 2, PDC 1, UDI 1, MORENA 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia), 5 superior courts, 3 courts of appeal

Political parties and leaders:
governing coalition: Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Gerardo GONZALEZ; Solidarity Party (PS), Samuel LEWIS GALINDO; Liberal Republican Party (PLR), Rodolfo CHIARI; Labor Party (PALA), Carlos Lopez GUEVARA
other parties: Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA), Alfredo RAMIREZ; Authentic Liberal Party (PLA), Arnulfo ESCALONA; Arnulfista Party (PA), Mireya MOSCOSO DE GRUBER; Christian Democratic Party (PDC), Raul OSSA; Liberal Party (PL), Roberto ALEMAN Zubieta; Papa Egoro Movement (MPE), Ruben BLADES; Civic Renewal Party (PRC), Tomas HERRERA; National Unity Mission Party (MUN), Jose Manuel PAREDES; Independent Democratic Union (UDI), Jacinto CARDENAS; National Renovation Movement (MORENA), Pedro VALLERINO

Other political or pressure groups: National Council of Organized Workers (CONATO); National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP); Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE); National Civic Crusade; Chamber of Commerce; Panamanian Industrialists Society (SIP); Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama (CTRP)


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ricardo Alberto ARIAS
chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Oliver P. GARZA
embassy: Avenida Balboa and Calle 38, Apartado 6959, Panama City 5
mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945; APO AA 34002
telephone: [507] 27-1777
FAX: [507] 27-1964

Flag: 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


Overview: Because of its key geographic location, Panama's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism. Trade and financial ties with the US are especially close. GDP grew at 3.6% in 1994, a respectable rate, yet below the 7.1% average of the early 1990s. Banking and financial services and trade through the Colon Free Zone continued to expand rapidly, with the industrial and agricultural sectors experiencing little growth. The new administration, inaugurated 1 September 1994, has launched an economic plan designed to reverse rising unemployment, attract foreign investment, cut back the size of government, and modernize the economy. The success of the plan in meeting its goals for 1995 and beyond depends largely on the success of the administration in reforming the labor code and instituting the reforms necessary to join the GATT.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $12.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 3.6% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $4,670 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.8% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 12.9% (1994 est.)

revenues: $1.93 billion
expenditures: $1.93 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994)

Exports: $520 million (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: bananas 43%, shrimp 11%, sugar 4%, clothing 5%, coffee 2%
partners: US 45%, EU, Central America and Caribbean

Imports: $2.205 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
commodities: capital goods 21%, crude oil 11%, foodstuffs 9%, consumer goods, chemicals
partners: US 40%, EU, Central America and Caribbean, Japan

External debt: $6.7 billion (yearend 1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.8% (1994 est.); accounts for about 9% of GDP

capacity: 960,000 kW
production: 2.8 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 1,047 kWh (1993)

Industries: manufacturing and construction, petroleum refining, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling

Agriculture: accounts for 10% of GDP (1992 est.); crops - bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane; livestock; fishing; importer of food grain, vegetables

Illicit drugs: major cocaine transshipment point and drug money laundering center

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $516 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $582 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $4 million

Currency: 1 balboa (B) = 100 centesimos

Exchange rates: balboas (B) per US$1 - 1.000 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 238 km
broad gauge: 78 km 1.524-m gauge
narrow gauge: 160 km 0.914-m gauge

total: 8,530 km
paved: 2,745 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone 3,270 km; improved, unimproved earth 2,515 km

Inland waterways: 800 km navigable by shallow draft vessels; 82 km Panama Canal

Pipelines: crude oil 130 km

Ports: Bahia de las Minas, Balboa, Colon, Cristobal, Panama

Merchant marine:
total: 3,526 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 60,748,525 GRT/95,102,552 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 1, bulk 787, cargo 1,070, chemical tanker 175, combination bulk 33, combination ore/oil 25, container 259, liquefied gas tanker 125, livestock carrier 8, multifunction large-load carrier 6, oil tanker 465, passenger 24, passenger-cargo 3, refrigerated cargo 284, roll-on/roll-off cargo 81, short-sea passenger 34, specialized tanker 9, vehicle carrier 137
note: a flag of convenience registry; includes 93 countries; the 10 major fleet flags are: Japan 1,171 ships, Greece 323, Hong Kong 276, US 212, Taiwan 184, Singapore 181, South Korea 172, China 145 ships, UK 102, and Norway 70

total: 115
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 14
with paved runways under 914 m: 74
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 20


Telephone system: 220,000 telephones; domestic and international facilities well developed
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 coaxial submarine cable; 2 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth stations; connected to the Central American Microwave System

broadcast stations: AM 91, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 23
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Panamanian Public Forces (PPF; includes the National Police or PNP, Maritime Service, National Air Service, and Institutional Protective Service); Judicial Branch Technical Police

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 701,691; males fit for military service 481,927 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: expenditures for the Panamanian security forces amounted to $105 million, 1.0% of GDP (1993 est.)