World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Central America

Panama Travelling Guide
Panama Travelling Guide

General 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 comparative: Slightly smaller than South Carolina.

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

Population: 2,882,329 (July 2002 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%

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

Government type: Constitutional democracy

Capital: Panama

Legal system: Based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations.

Economic 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, the global slowdown, and the withdrawal of US military forces held back economic growth in 2000-01. The government plans public works programs, tax reforms, and new regional trade agreements in order to stimulate growth.

Communication/Telephone system: Domestic and international facilities well developed.

Places of interest:
Incredible rainforest and some of the finest snorkeling, birding and deep-sea fishing in the world.

Travel tips: Crime has been on the increase in Panama of late.