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Republic of Panama, Central America.

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The Republic of Panama is a country located in lower Central America. It has a population of nearly 3 million people and a land area of 29, 760 sq mi (77,081 sq km). Panama lies on the Isthmus of Panama and links Central and South America (see maps). Neighboring countries are Cost Rica in Central America and Columbia in South American. The famous Panama Canal bisects the country to provide an important water passage for sea vessels traveling between the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. The capital of Panama is Panama City. The second largest city is Colon, a major port and the third largest city is David in the western part of Panama.

The Republic of Panama has a population of about 3 million people. The large majority of the population is Roman Catholic. Most of Panama's people live in urban areas. The population of Panama is mainly mestizo, which is a mix of indigenous and Spanish descent. A large number of other immigrants, such as Chinese are also included in this category. Of the remaining population about 14% are of African descent, 10% Spanish descent, 5% mixed African and Spanish descent and 6% indigenous. There are seven main indigenous groups that remain the: Kuna; Ngöbe-Buglé; Emberá; Bribri; Wounaan; Naso (also known as the Teribe); and Bokotá. A large population of immigrants from many parts of the world live in Panama and there are also very high levels of international trade due to the presence of the Panama Canal. Therefore, the country of Panama often referred to as a cultural 'melting pot'.

Panama is a constitutional republic. The president of the Republic holds executive power and is popularly elected for a five-year term. The president is unable to serve two consecutive terms. The current president of Panama is Martin Torrijos.

The Republic of Panama has a long and varied history. Archeological evidence suggests that people have been living in Panama for at least 11,000 years. It is thought that the first people living in Panama resided by the Pacific Ocean and fished in the mangrove swamps and estuaries in these regions.

Panama was densely inhabited by different indigenous peoples before the arrival of the Spanish. The first Europeans to sight Panama in 1501 were led by the Spanish explorer Rodrigo de Bastidas, Twenty years later Panama City was established. In the year 1821, Colombia which included Panama, gained independence from Spain. And Panama became a state of Gran Colombia (which at the time included Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuala).

In 1846 Colombia signed a treaty which allowed the US to build a railway across Panama. With the support of the USA, Panama declared independence from Colombia in 1903 and agreed to the development of a canal zone which would be under US control. In 1977 a new treaty was signed which allowed Panama to take control of the Canal from the US in the year 2000. In the 1980's there was significant political instability when Panama's military head, General Manuel Noriega was indicted by the US under drug charges. The US invaded Panama and took Noriega and tried and convicted him in the US.

Panama's economy is mostly service-base with services on offer such as banking, tourism, trading and commerce. About one quarter of the land in Panama is used for agriculture. A large proportion of cattle are grazed on the upland savannas and some subsistence crops, such as maize, sugarcane, rice and coffee are grown. Bananas are the largest exports in Panama. Following this are exports of shrimp and fish products, sugar, clothing and coffee. A significant amount of trade is with the US.

In terms of money, the Republic of Panama uses the US dollar. Some of the prices in Panama tend to be slightly more than in other parts of Central America, but still cheaper than the US and many parts of Europe. A large number of banks are based in Panama City.

Tourism in the Republic of Panama is rapidly growing. Its fascinating nature and culture allures a wide range of travelers. There are many activities for tourists to partake in, such as hiking, surfing, snorkeling, diving, rafting, spa and remedial treatments, and much more. Additionally there are many events throughout the year, such as musical concerts, art exhibitions, sporting events, and festivals (see calendar).

There is a growing number of expatriate people choosing to live and retire in Panama. A large proportion of these people come from the US, Canada and Europe. Many of these expatriates choose to live in Panama because of the easy way of living, safety, reasonable prices of health care, tax exemptions and enticing retirement visa entitlements.

In Panama you can access a range of newspapers, receive cable television and wireless internet in many parts of the city. There are also two online expatriate newspapers/newsletters available.

Local food in Panama is largely meat based with beans, rice and corn based dishes. Local food is available at very cheap prices. Panama City has a reputation for having some very high quality restaurants serving a wide range of delicious international cuisines from Indian and Peruvian, to French and Japanese.

We hope this page was helpful for information on the Republic of Panama. Please see our related links for further information or visit our FAQ. This site will be updated regularly so we he hope you will visit again soon.

Please contact us for more information or for any services relating to visiting or traveling to Panama. Please also visit our Panama Forum to post your questions and comments.







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