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 Panama [Country Flag of Panama]
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Panama]

Panama

Geography

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Location: Middle 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: 200 nm

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan de Chiriqui 3,475 m

Natural resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp

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

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, 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

People

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Population: 2,735,943 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (male 446,001; female 428,532)
15-64 years: 62% (male 864,382; female 841,870)
65 years and over: 6% (male 74,529; female 80,629) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.56% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 21.99 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.14 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.47 years
male: 71.73 years
female: 77.31 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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

Government

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

Data code: PM

Government type: constitutional republic

National capital: Panama

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (provincias, singular—provincia) and 2 territories* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*, Veraguas, and a new, as yet unnamed territory* or 'comarca' created 7 March 1997 when President PEREZ BALLADARES signed a bill designating a reserve stretched across three provinces

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: President Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES Gonzalez Revilla (since 1 September 1994); First Vice President Tomas Gabriel ALTAMIRANO DUQUE (since 1 September 1994); Second Vice President Felipe Alejandro VIRZI Lopez (since 1 September 1994); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES Gonzalez Revilla (since 1 September 1994); First Vice President Tomas Gabriel ALTAMIRANO DUQUE (since 1 September 1994); Second Vice President Felipe Alejandro VIRZI Lopez (since 1 September 1994); 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 8 May 1994 (next to be held 2 May 1999)
election results: Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES elected president; percent of vote—Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES (PRD) 33%, Mireya MOSCOSO DE GRUBER (PA) 29%, Ruben BLADES (MPE) 17%, Ruben Dario CARLES (MOLIRENA) 16%

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (72 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 8 May 1994 (next to be held 2 May 1999)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PRD 32, PS 4, PALA 1, PA 14, MPE 6, MOLIRENA 4, PLA 3, PRC 3, PLN 2, PDC 1, UDI 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 (Corte Suprema de Justicia), nine judges appointed for 10-year terms; five superior courts; three courts of appeal

Political parties and leaders:
governing coalition: Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Gerardo GONZALEZ; National Liberal Party (PLN), Raul ARANGO, founder; Popular Nationalist Party, Jorge FLORES
other parties: Solidarity Party (PS), Samuel LEWIS GALINDO; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA), Guillermo FORD; Arnulfista Party (PA), Mireya MOSCOSO DE GRUBER; Christian Democratic Party (PDC), Ruben AROSEMENA; Papa Egoro Movement (MPE), Ruben BLADES; Civic Renewal Party (PRC), Carlos ABADIA; National Renovation Movement (MORENA), Pedro VALLARINO; Authentic Liberal Party (PLA); Labor Party (PALA); Independent Democratic Union (UDI)

Political pressure groups and leaders: 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)

International organization participation: AG (associate), CACM, 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, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Eloy ALFARO de Alba
chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
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 John HUGHES
embassy: Avenida Balboa and Calle 38, Apartado 6959, Panama City 5
mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
telephone: [507] 227-1777
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

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Economy—overview: Because of its key geographic location, Panama's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism. Since taking office in 1994, President PEREZ BALLADARES has advanced an economic reform program designed to liberalize the trade regime, attract foreign investment, privatize state-owned enterprises, institute fiscal reform, and encourage job creation through labor code reform. The government privatized its two remaining ports along the Panama Canal in 1997 and approved the sale of the railroad in early 1998. It also plans to sell other assets, including the electric company. Panama joined the World Trade Organization (WTrO) and approved a tariff reduction that will give the country the lowest average tariff rates in Latin America. A banking reform law was approved by the legislature in early 1998 and will take effect in June. After two years of near stagnation, the reforms are beginning to take root; GDP grew by 3.6% in 1997 and is expected to grow by more than 5% in 1998. The most important sectors driving growth have been the Panama Canal and the shipping and port activities. The Colon Free Zone also rebounded from a slow year in 1996.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$18 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3.6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,700 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 8%
industry: 18%
services: 74% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.2% (1997)

Labor force:
total: 1.044 million (1997 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

Unemployment rate: 13.1% (1997 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $2.4 billion
expenditures: $2.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $341 million (1997 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 0.4% (1995 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 957 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 3.6 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,355 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; fishing (shrimp)

Exports:
total value: $592 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: bananas 43%, shrimp 11%, sugar 4%, clothing 5%, coffee 2%
partners: US 37%, EU, Central America and Caribbean

Imports:
total value: $2.95 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.)
commodities: capital goods 21%, crude oil 11%, foodstuffs 9%, consumer goods, chemicals
partners: US 48%, EU, Central America and Caribbean, Japan

Debt—external: $7.26 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: NA

Currency: 1 balboa (B) = 100 centesimos

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

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

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Telephones: 273,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system: 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 91, FM 0, shortwave 0

Radios: 564,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 23

Televisions: 420,000 (1992 est.)

Transportation

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Railways:
total: 355 km
broad gauge: 76 km 1.524-m gauge
narrow gauge: 279 km 0.914-m gauge

Highways:
total: 11,100 km
paved: 3,730 km (including 30 km of expressways)
unpaved: 7,370 km (1996 est.)

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

Pipelines: crude oil 130 km

Ports and harbors: Balboa, Cristobal, Coco Solo, Vacamonte, Manzanillo

Merchant marine:
total: 4,350 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 89,622,112 GRT/137,529,188 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1,240, cargo 1,033, chemical tanker 195, combination bulk 67, combination ore/oil 19, container 426, liquefied gas tanker 175, livestock carrier 9, multifunction large-load carrier 5, oil tanker 524, passenger 40, passenger-cargo 6, railcar carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 296, roll-on/roll-off cargo 101, short-sea passenger 40, specialized tanker 15, vehicle carrier 158
note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 76 countries among which are Japan 1,236, Greece 418, Hong Kong 273, South Korea 247, Taiwan 227, China 185, Singapore 119, US 112, Switzerland 85, and Indonesia 60 (1997 est.)

Airports: 109 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 40
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 19 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 69
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 52 (1997 est.)

Military

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Military branches: an amendment to the Constitution abolished the armed forces, but there are security forces (Panamanian Public Forces or PPF includes the National Police, National Maritime Service, and National Air Service)

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 733,019 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 502,731 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $78 million (1995); note—for police and security forces

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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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