Home | About Us | Contact Us | French | Español  

Republic of Panama


The southern most country of Central America, its neighbors are Costa Rica (to the North West) and Colombia to the East. Ecuador is located to the South West of Colombia.

Location: 7º12’07" and 9º38’46" North Latitude, 77º09’24" and 83º03’07" West Longitude.

Panama is bordered to the North by the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic Ocean) and to the South by the Pacific Ocean.

Climate: tropical, with two seasons, Rainy: begins in May, dry: begins in December.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution has probably the best definition about the weather in Panama (Excerpt from its website): “Forecasting day-to-day weather in Panama could be considered a waste of time. There is always a 90% chance that it will be hot and sunny during the Dry Season (mid-December to the end of April), and hot and humid with about a 40 to 50% chance of afternoon thunderstorms during the Rainy Season. No short-term weather forecast is more accurate than this”.

Official Language: Spanish
English is widely spoken due to close ties with the United States of America.

Main Religion: Catholicism
Others: Judaism, Protestantism, Islam, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism.

Size: 75,517 km2 (29,157 sq.miles)

Population: 3,405,813. (Est. DEC, 2010)

Provinces: 10 + 5 Comarcas (the Comarcas are Indian territories with some management autonomy).

Province /Comarca Capital
Bocas del Toro Bocas del Toro
Chiriquí David
Coclé Penonomé
Colón Colón
Darién La Palma
Herrera Chitré
Los Santos Las Tablas
Panamá Ciudad de Panamá
Panamá Oeste La Chorrera
Veraguas Santiago de Veraguas
Comarca Kuna Yala El Porvenir (San Blas)
Comarca Ngobé Buglé Chichica

Other Comarcas:
Emberá-Wounaan (NP): capital Unión Chocó.
Kuna de Madugandí (N.Corr.)
Kuna de Wargandí (N.Corr.)

Main archipelagos and islands:
San Blas Archipelago
Las Perlas Archipelago
Bocas del Toro Archipelago
Coïba island
Cébaco island
Taboga island

Capital : City of Panamá.
Panama City ranks first in Central America for business development and 7th in Latin America after Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires according to the May 2010 edition of the 'America Economia' magazine (ahead of 37 other big cities and capitals).

Districts (corregimientos):
San Felipe (Casco Antiguo), El Chorrillo, Santa Ana, La Exposición o Calidonia, Bethania, Bella Vista, Pueblo Nuevo, San Francisco, Parque Lefevre, Río Abajo, Juan Días and Pedregal.

Recent history :

The Republic of Panama has been independent since November 3rd, 1903.

Panama Canal:

Beginning of French works: 1881. They are overseen by Ferdinand de Lesseps. They stop in 1888 and the company goes bankrupt in 1889. Works begin again in 1904 under the auspices of the United States of America. The latter will retain sovereignty over the Canal Zone until 1999. The Canal was inaugurated in 1914 and is 68 km long (11 km at the Atlantic entrance and 3 km at the Pacific entrance; these entrances are marked by buoys which guide the ships). The maximum “internal” length of the Canal is 77 km.

Notes on the French, then American Canal:
French works were well under way in 1886 and the project could have ended in success, but F. de Lesseps’s opponents in France managed to convince public opinion to stop investing in the Panama Canal project. History will remember that, so close to the goal, France lost an opportunity to be present in Latin America and, more importantly, to play a major role in world commercial links.

President Theodore Roosevelt, an adept of the doctrine of commercial and military development through supremacy on the seas, was an ardent supporter of the Panama Canal project. It was an absolute necessity that the future canal be controlled by the United States of America. The Senate approved the final proposal by 8 votes in favor of the construction of the Panama Canal on June 19th, 1902. The United States of America bought the French company, with all its assets and the concession, for $40,000,000 of the time. The Canal officially opened on August 15th, 1914.

The American Senate ratified the Torrijos-Carter Treaty in 1978. Sovereignty over the Panama Canal was completely restored to the Republic of Panama on December 31, 1999.

After the death of General Torrijos (plane crash in 1983), the country underwent a period of instability when General Manuel Antonio Noriega seized power. The military dictatorship lasted 6 years (from 1983 to 1989). He was arrested in 1989 during the United States military operation “Just Cause”. The results of the 1989 elections officialized Guillermo David Endara Galimany as 45th president of the Republic of Panama. He passed away a few months after his last political campaign (presidential candidate for the 2009 election). He will be remembered as the president who restored democracy to Panama. The armed forces were dismissed in 1990 during his presidency.

Since 1989, Panama has enjoyed total peace evolving into a parliamentary democracy. The era of the Noriega dictatorship is definitely part of the past. Since the second half of the 90’s, Panama has been concentrating on its economic development.

Through the October 22 2006 referendum, the people approved the program for the expansion of the Canal which will become the biggest project realized in Panama for almost a century. The Canal is considered one of the greatest technical wonders achieved by mankind. The total duration of the project will be 8 years, 5 for its construction. It should become operational in 2014 and will accommodate ships with a max. length of 366 meters and a max. width of 49 meters. Many companies are participating in the project, including the Belgian companies Jan de Nul N.V and Dredgin International.

The expansion of the Panama Canal will have an international impact since many countries will have to increase the capacity and size of their ports so as to meet the needs and demands of maritime services generated by the use of large ships (new panamax). An example could be the competition between the ports of the East coast of the USA. Thus, the port of New York has launched a deepening and lengthening project for a budget of $2,300MM. Other projects involve the ports of Baltimore (MD), Savannah (GA), Miami (FL), etc... The infrastructures that will have to be built will be of a very large size (roads, highways, railways, ports…) and will generate thousands of jobs.


Panama is a parliamentary republic.

There are three levels of power:

  • Executive: President and Vice-President
  • Legislative: The legislative power rests with the National Assembly. Panama has only one chamber with 71 deputies.
  • Judiciary: Supreme Court, nine magistrates appointed for 10 years by the Cabinet Council.

President of the Republic: Laurentino Cortizo Cohen
Vice-President: José Gabriel Carrizo Jaén

The presidents from 1989 to the present are:

  • Guillermo Endara : 1989 to 1994 (+)
  • Ernesto Perez Balladares : 1994 to 1999
  • Mirella Moscoso : 1999 to 2004
  • Martin Torrijos : 2004 to 2009
  • Ricardo Martinelli : 2009 to 2014
  • Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez: 2014 to 2019
  • Laurentino Cortizo Cohen: 2019 to 2024

Presidents in Panama are elected for one 5 year term. Two terms must elapse before they may run again.

The right to vote is awarded to citizens over 18 years old. Voting is not compulsory.

Population :

Census 2010: 3,405,813 inhabitants.
Men: 1,712,584
Women: 1,693,229

Province Area size (Sq.km) Pop. Homes %
BOCAS DEL TORO 4,601.3 121,952 28,948  
COCLÉ 4,927.4 228,676 72,840  
COLÓN 4,890.5 232,748 73,445  
CHIRIQUÍ 6,476.5 409,821 134,033  
DARIÉN 16,263.6 46,951 15,310  
HERRERA 2,340.8 107,911 39,861  
LOS SANTOS 3,805.4 88,487 38,999  
PANAMÁ 11,951.9 1,663,913 537,666 50%
VERAGUAS 10,677.2 226,641 74,092  
COMARCA KUNA YALA 2,393.1 31,577 5,662 {
COMARCA EMBERÁ 9,544 2,411 6%
COMARCA NGÖBE BUGLÉ 6,673.3 154,355 32,941 }
TOTAL   3,322,576 1,056,208 100

By type of area:

Urban areas: 2,262,763 (1)
Rural areas: 1,241,718 (1)

Population growth rate (2000-2010):

The highest growth rates are to be found in the provinces of Bocas del Toro (3.46%) and Panama (2.12%), the lowest in the provinces of Herrera and Los Santos, each with 0.71%. On the Indian side, the Comarca Ngöbe Buglé sets itself out with a growth rate of 3.6%.

Annual urban growth rate: 3.2 % to 3.5%
Note: Province of Panamá, 2010 census estimation: 1.66 million.

70% of the Panamanian population live in the provinces of Chiriqui, Panamá, and Colón where the biggest cities are located (David, Panama City, and Colón). The province of Panamá alone has 50.3% of the country’s population. The population living in the 3 Comarcas represent +/- 6%.

By age group:

< 15 years old: 29.2%
15 – 64 years old: 63.4 %
>= 65 years old: 7.4%

Population less than 25 years old: 46% of the total population (1)

An ageing of the population can be observed, the 1990 and 2000 censuses showing rates of 34.9% and 32% respectively for the less than 15 years old age group. Thus, the average age of the population went from 22 years old (1990) to 24 years old (2000) and to 27 years old for the 2010 census.

Life expectancy: Men : 74.63 years old / Women : 79.86 years old

  • Birth Rate: 2.3 (2.4 in 2000)
  • Urban areas: 2.2 per woman
  • Rural areas: 3.4 per woman
  • Projection for 2023: 2 per woman

Illiteracy rate:

This rate saw sharp declines in the previous 20 years. Thus, in 1990, the overall rate was 10.7%, 7.6% in 2000, and fell to 5.5% in 2010. The highest illiteracy rates are observed in the Comarcas, from 22.9% to 30.8%. The lowest is observed in the province of Panama at 2%.

(1): 2010 estimate, Dirección de Estadística y Censo.

Analysis and synthesis: Strategy Panama.


  Links: Home | About Us | Contact Us Other languages : French | Español  

© STRATEGY PANAMA All rights reserved.
 Use of this website signifies your agreement to its Terms and Conditions of use.