Panama Flag Icon

Panama Country Guide

Explore Panama in North America

Panama with the capital city Panama City is located in North America (Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean). It covers some 78,201 square kilometres (slightly smaller than South Carolina) with 3,292,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Panama

The topography includes interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains with coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills. The average density of population is approximately 42 per km². The notable climate conditions in Panama can be described as tropical maritime with hot, humid, cloudy, prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May). Possible natural disasters include occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area.

To reach someone in Panama dial +507 prior to a number. There are 537,100 installed telephones. And there are 5,677,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 1800 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".pa". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 110V - 60Hz.

About the flag and history of Panama

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.

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 2015.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: North America
Neighbours: Costa Rica, Colombia
Capital: Panama City
Size 78,200 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 30,193 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than South Carolina
Population 3,292,000
Currency Name: Balboa, Currency Code: PAB
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .pa
Telephone Country Prefix +507
Mobile Phone Connections 5,677,000
Landline Phone Connections 537,100

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 75,420 (sq km) 118

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 3,559,408 131
Population growth rate 1.38 (%) 88
Birth rate 18.91 (births/1,000 population) 95
Death rate 4.73 (deaths/1,000 population) 195
Net migration rate -0.35 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 128
Maternal mortality rate 92.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 79
Infant mortality rate 11.01 (deaths/1,000 live births) 137
Life expectancy at birth 78.13 (years) 56
Total fertility rate 2.40 (children born/woman) 86
Health expenditures 8.10 (% of GDP) 56
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.90 (%) 51
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 20,000 78
HIV/AIDS - deaths 1,500 60
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 25.40 (%) 55
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 3.90 (%) 97
Education expenditures 4.10 (% of GDP) 107
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 14.6 (%) 87


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 58,020,000,000 92
GDP - real growth rate 10.70 (%) 7
GDP - per capita (PPP) 15,900 86
Labor force 1,509,000 130
Unemployment rate 4.40 (%) 39
Distribution of family income - Gini index 52 16
Investment (gross fixed) 30.10 (% of GDP) 21
Taxes and other revenues 25.4 (% of GDP) 118
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -2.70 (% of GDP) 103
Public debt 41.00 (% of GDP) 88
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 6.10 (%) 161
Commercial bank prime lending rate 6.91 (%) 128
Stock of narrow money 7,488,000,000 87
Stock of broad money 29,720,000,000 77
Stock of domestic credit 31,470,000,000 71
Market value of publicly traded shares 10,920,000,000 71
Industrial production growth rate 10.90 (%) 7
Current account balance -4,191,000,000 159
Exports 17,970,000,000 76
Imports 24,040,000,000 70
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 3,314,000,000 105
Debt - external 14,200,000,000 89


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 6,546,000,000 (kWh) 107
Electricity - consumption 5,805,000,000 (kWh) 107
Electricity - exports 39,000,000 (kWh) 79
Electricity - imports 71,000,000 (kWh) 99
Electricity - installed generating capacity 1815000 (kW) 106
Electricity - from fossil fuels 51.6 (% of total installed capacity) 154
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 48.4 (% of total installed capacity) 44
Refined petroleum products - consumption 98,890 (bbl/day) 79
Refined petroleum products - imports 46,370 (bbl/day) 72
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 15,460,000 (Mt) 89


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 560,200 93
Telephones - mobile cellular 6,735,000 95
Internet hosts 11,022 132
Internet users 959,800 104


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 118 48
Railways 76 (km) 127
Roadways 11,978 (km) 130
Waterways 800 (km) 73
Merchant marine 6,413 1


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 1.00 (% of GDP) 128

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá
Founded in 1519 by the conquistador Pedrarías Dávila, Panamá Viejo is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was laid out on a rectilinear grid and marks the transference from Europe of the idea of a planned town. ...
Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection
Coiba National Park, off the southwest coast of Panama, protects Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Protected from the cold winds and effects of El Niño, Coiba’s Pacific tropical moist fo ...
Darien National Park
Forming a bridge between the two continents of the New World, Darien National Park contains an exceptional variety of habitats – sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, swamps, and lowland and upland tropical forests containing remarkable wildlife. ...
Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo
Magnificent examples of 17th- and 18th-century military architecture, these Panamanian forts on the Caribbean coast form part of the defence system built by the Spanish Crown to protect transatlantic trade. ...