Panama

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Panama
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Panama
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Map of Panama
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Photos of Panama
 
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OF PANAMA
 

Introduction

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Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela - named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. 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. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. 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 transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006, Panamanians approved an ambitious plan (estimated to cost $5.3 billion) to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal's capacity, is expected to be completed in 2014-15.
 
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Geography

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Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica
 
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9 00 N, 80 00 W
 
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total: 75,420 sq km
country comparison to the world: 118
land: 74,340 sq km
water: 1,080 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than South Carolina
 
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total: 555 km
border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km
 
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2,490 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
 
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tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
 
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interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
 
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lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m
 
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copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
 
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arable land: 7.26%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 90.79% (2005)
 
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430 sq km (2008)
 
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148 cu km (2000)
 
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total: 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
per capita: 254 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area
 
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water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
 
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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
 
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People and Society

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noun: Panamanian(s)
adjective: Panamanian
 
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mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
 
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Spanish (official), English 14%
note: many Panamanians are bilingual
 
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Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
 
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3,460,462 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
 
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0-14 years: 28.6% (male 504,726/female 484,291)
15-64 years: 64.2% (male 1,123,777/female 1,098,661)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 115,425/female 133,582) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 27.5 years
male: 27.1 years
female: 27.9 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.435% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
 
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19.43 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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4.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
 
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-0.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
 
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urban population: 75% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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PANAMA CITY (capital) 1.346 million (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.045 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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71 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 84
 
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total: 11.64 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 138
male: 12.41 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 77.79 years
country comparison to the world: 55
male: 75.02 years
female: 80.68 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.45 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
 
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8.3% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 48
 
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1.5 physicians/1,000 population (2000)
country comparison to the world: 79
 
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2.2 beds/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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improved:
urban: 97% of population
rural: 83% of population
total: 93% of population
unimproved:
urban: 3% of population
rural: 17% of population
total: 7% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 75% of population
rural: 51% of population
total: 69% of population
unimproved:
urban: 25% of population
rural: 49% of population
total: 31% of population (2008)
 
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0.9% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
 
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20,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
 
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1,500 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
 
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degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2009)
 
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3.9% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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3.8% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 110
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 92.5%
female: 91.2% (2000 census)
 
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total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2008)
 
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total: 14.9%
country comparison to the world: 75
male: 11.7%
female: 21.1% (2008)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
local short form: Panama
 
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constitutional democracy
 
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name: Panama City
geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 3 indigenous territories* (comarcas); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Embera-Wounaan*, Herrera, Kuna Yala*, Los Santos, Ngobe-Bugle*, Panama, Veraguas
 
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3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain on 28 November 1821)
 
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Independence Day, 3 November (1903)
 
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11 October 1972; revised several times
 
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civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice
 
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accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
 
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18 years of age; universal and compulsory
 
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chief of state: President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
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elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (not eligible for immediate reelection; president and vice president must sit out two additional terms (10 years) before becoming eligible for reelection); election last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal 60%, Balbina HERRERA 38%, Guillermo ENDARA Galimany 2%
note: government coalition - CD (Democratic Change), Panamenista, MOLIRENA (Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement), and UP (Patriotic Union Party)
 
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unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 26, Panamenista 22, CD 14, UP 4, Independent 2, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1; note - changes in political affiliation now reflect the following seat distribution: as of 1 March 2011 - seats by party - PRD 23, Panamenista 20, CD 23, UP 2, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1
note: legislators from outlying rural districts chosen on a plurality basis while districts located in more populous towns and cities elect multiple legislators by means of a proportion-based formula
 
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Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for staggered 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal
 
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Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Francisco SANCHEZ Cardenas]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]; Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or UP (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Milton HENRIQUEZ] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
 
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Chamber of Commerce; National Civic Crusade; National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP
 
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BCIE, CAN (observer), CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, SICA, UN, UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Mario Ernesto JARAMILLO Castillo
chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
FAX: [1] (202) 483-8416
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Phyllis M. POWERS
embassy: Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas Panama, Apartado Postal 0816-02561, Zona 5, Panama City
mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
telephone: [507] 207-7000
FAX: [507] 317-5568
 
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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; the blue and red colors are those of the main political parties (Conservatives and Liberals respectively) and the white denotes peace between them; the blue star stands for the civic virtues of purity and honesty, the red star signifies authority and law
 
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harpy eagle
 
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name: "Himno Istemno" (Isthmus Hymn)
lyrics/music: Jeronimo DE LA OSSA/Santos A. JORGE
note: adopted 1925
 
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Economy

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Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 25% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The United States and China are the top users of the Canal. Panama also plans to construct a metro system in Panama City, valued at $1.2 billion and scheduled to be completed by 2014. Panama's booming transportation and logistics services sectors, along with aggressive infrastructure development projects, will likely lead the economy to continued growth in 2011. Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About 30% of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2010 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points, while unemployment dropped from 12% to 6% of the labor force. Panama and the United States signed a Trade Promotion Agreement in June 2007, which, when implemented, will help promote the country's economic growth. Seeking removal from the Organization of Economic Development's gray-list of tax havens, Panama has also recently signed various double taxation treaties with other nations.
 
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$44.36 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
$41.26 billion (2009 est.)
$39.99 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$26.78 billion (2010 est.)
 
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7.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
3.2% (2009 est.)
10.1% (2008 est.)
 
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$13,000 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
$12,300 (2009 est.)
$12,100 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 4.6%
industry: 16.7%
services: 78.7% (2010 est.)
 
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1.485 million
country comparison to the world: 129
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2010 est.)
 
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agriculture: 17.6%
industry: 8.8%
services: 73.6% (2009 est.)
 
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4.2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
6.4% (2009 est.)
 
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25.6% (2010 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 40.6% (2009)
 
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51 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
56.1 (2003)
 
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27.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
 
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revenues: $6.874 billion
expenditures: $7.386 billion (2010 est.)
 
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25.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
 
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-1.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
 
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43.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
45.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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3.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
2.4% (2009 est.)
 
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7.74% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
8.25% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$5.23 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
$4.404 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$24.19 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
$21.78 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$23.5 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
$20.17 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$10.92 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 72
$8.048 billion (31 December 2009)
$6.568 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp
 
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construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling
 
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4.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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6.546 billion kWh (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
 
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5.805 billion kWh (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
 
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95 million kWh (2009 est.)
 
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73 million kWh (2008 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
 
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97,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
 
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77,910 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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-$2.523 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
-$43.5 million (2009 est.)
 
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$11.33 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
$11.13 billion (2009 est.)
note: includes the Colon Free Zone
 
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bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing
 
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Venezuela 20.6%, South Korea 18.2%, Ecuador 6.3%, India 6.2%, Japan 5.6%, Greece 5.3%, US 5.3% (2010)
 
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$15.95 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
$13.26 billion (2009 est.)
note: includes the Colon Free Zone
 
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capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals
 
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Japan 25.3%, China 19.6%, Singapore 12.3%, US 10%, South Korea 9.3%, Ecuador 4.1% (2010)
 
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$2.715 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
$3.028 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$13.22 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$12.42 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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$NA
 
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balboas (PAB) per US dollar -
1 (2010)
1 (2009)
1 (2008)
1 (2007)
1 (2006)
note: the balboa exists alongside the dollar and may be used interchangably
 
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Communications

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553,100 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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6.496 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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general assessment: domestic and international facilities well developed
domestic: mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased rapidly
international: country code - 507; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), the MAYA-1, and PAN-AM submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System (2008)
 
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multiple privately-owned television networks and a government-owned educational TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV subscription services are available; more than 100 commercial radio stations (2007)
 
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.pa
 
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9,585 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 123
 
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959,800 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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Transportation

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118 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 50
 
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total: 54
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 30 (2010)
 
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total: 64
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 52 (2010)
 
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3 (2010)
 
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oil 128 km
 
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total: 76 km
country comparison to the world: 127
standard gauge: 76 km 1.435-m gauge (2010)
 
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total: 11,978 km
country comparison to the world: 130
paved: 4,300 km
unpaved: 7,678 km (2002)
 
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800 km (includes the 82-km Panama Canal that is being widened) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 73
 
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total: 6,379
country comparison to the world: 1
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 2,383, cargo 1,129, carrier 18, chemical tanker 626, combination ore/oil 3, container 751, liquefied gas 192, passenger 42, passenger/cargo 61, petroleum tanker 576, refrigerated cargo 212, roll on/roll off 100, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 282
foreign-owned: 5,244 (Albania 3, Argentina 7, Australia 5, Azerbaijan 1, Bahamas 7, Bangladesh 3, Belgium 2, Bermuda 15, Brazil 3, Bulgaria 6, Burma 3, Canada 5, Chile 17, China 574, Colombia 2, Croatia 2, Cuba 4, Cyprus 8, Denmark 46, Ecuador 6, Egypt 11, Finland 2, France 13, Gabon 1, Germany 27, Gibraltar 1, Greece 402, Hong Kong 125, India 17, Indonesia 14, Iran 5, Ireland 1, Isle of Man 11, Israel 1, Italy 23, Japan 2347, Jordan 13, Kuwait 12, Latvia 4, Lebanon 2, Lithuania 4, Luxembourg 1, Malaysia 12, Maldives 3, Malta 2, Mexico 6, Monaco 14, Morocco 1, Netherlands 8, Nigeria 7, Norway 89, Oman 8, Pakistan 5, Peru 12, Philippines 6, Poland 3, Portugal 9, Qatar 1, Romania 2, Russia 39, Saudi Arabia 8, Singapore 79, South Korea 366, Spain 40, Sweden 1, Switzerland 22, Syria 42, Taiwan 337, Tanzania 2, Thailand 6, Tunisia 1, Turkey 79, UAE 83, UK 33, Ukraine 11, US 102, Venezuela 8, Vietnam 37, Yemen 4)
note: this country allows large numbers of ships owned by foreign entities to be registered in its national shipping registry and to fly its flag; these ships operate under the laws of the flag state
registered in other countries: 1 (Honduras 1) (2010)
 
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Balboa, Colon, Cristobal
 
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Military

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no regular military forces; Panamanian public forces include: Panamanian National Police (PNP), National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), National Border Service (SENAFRONT) (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 890,006 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 731,254
females age 16-49: 728,329 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 32,142
female: 30,879 (2010 est.)
 
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1% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 128
 
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on 10 February 1990, the government of then President ENDARA abolished Panama's military and reformed the security apparatus by creating the Panamanian Public Forces; in October 1994, Panama's Legislative Assembly approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting the creation of a standing military force but allowing the temporary establishment of special police units to counter acts of "external aggression"
 
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Transnational Issues

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organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama
 
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current situation: Panama is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; although some Panamanian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in other countries in Latin America and in Europe, most Panamanian trafficking victims are exploited within the country; commercial sexual exploitation of children was greater in rural areas; Panamanian children, mostly young girls, are subjected to domestic servitude; most foreign trafficking victims are adult women from Colombia, neighboring Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic; some victims migrate voluntarily to Panama to work but are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic servitude
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - authorities established a commission which drafted comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to bring anti-trafficking laws in line with the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol; the government identified at least 43 trafficking victims and prosecuted five sex trafficking offenders, and in partnership with civil society and foreign governments, provided training to Panamanian officials; however, Panama continued to lack prohibitions against forced labor in its penal code, and authorities did not convict any trafficking offenders; specialized victim services, particularly for adult victims, remained limited, and authorities did not report using proactive procedures to identify trafficking victims among detained migrants (2011)
 
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major cocaine transshipment point and primary money-laundering center for narcotics revenue; money-laundering activity is especially heavy in the Colon Free Zone; offshore financial center; negligible signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem
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