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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 78,200 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 and 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

Panama Flag Icon

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

SummaryContinent: North America
Neighbours: Costa Rica, Colombia
Capital: Panama City
Size78,200 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 30,193 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than South Carolina
CurrencyName Balboa, Currency Code:PAB
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).pa
Telephone Country Prefix+507
Mobile Phone Connections5,677,000
Landline Phone Connections537,100

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 nameValueWorld Rank
Area75,420 (sq km)118

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population3,559,408 131
Population growth rate1.38 (%)88
Birth rate18.91 (births/1,000 population)95
Death rate4.73 (deaths/1,000 population)195
Net migration rate-0.35 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)128
Maternal mortality rate92.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)79
Infant mortality rate11.01 (deaths/1,000 live births)137
Life expectancy at birth78.13 (years)56
Total fertility rate2.40 (children born/woman)86
Health expenditures8.10 (% of GDP)56
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.90 (%)51
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS20,000 78
HIV/AIDS - deaths1,500 60
Obesity - adult prevalence rate25.40 (%)55
Children under the age of 5 years underweight3.90 (%)97
Education expenditures4.10 (% of GDP)107
Unemployment, youth ages 15-2414.60 (%)87


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)58,020,000,000 92
GDP - real growth rate10.70 (%)7
GDP - per capita (PPP)15,900 86
Labor force1,509,000 130
Unemployment rate4.40 (%)39
Distribution of family income - Gini index51.90 16
Investment (gross fixed)30.10 (% of GDP)21
Taxes and other revenues25.40 (% of GDP)118
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-2.70 (% of GDP)103
Public debt41.00 (% of GDP)88
Inflation rate (consumer prices)6.10 (%)161
Commercial bank prime lending rate6.91 (%)128
Stock of narrow money7,488,000,000 87
Stock of broad money29,720,000,000 77
Stock of domestic credit31,470,000,000 71
Market value of publicly traded shares10,920,000,000 71
Industrial production growth rate10.90 (%)7
Current account balance-4,191,000,000 159
Exports17,970,000,000 76
Imports24,040,000,000 70
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold3,314,000,000 105
Debt - external14,200,000,000 89


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production6,546,000,000 (kWh)107
Electricity - consumption5,805,000,000 (kWh)107
Electricity - exports39,000,000 (kWh)79
Electricity - imports71,000,000 (kWh)99
Electricity - installed generating capacity1,815,000 (kW)106
Electricity - from fossil fuels51.60 (% of total installed capacity)154
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants48.40 (% of total installed capacity)44
Refined petroleum products - consumption98,890 (bbl/day)79
Refined petroleum products - imports46,370 (bbl/day)72
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy15,460,000 (Mt)89


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use560,200 93
Telephones - mobile cellular6,735,000 95
Internet hosts11,022 132
Internet users959,800 104


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports118 48
Railways76 (km)127
Roadways11,978 (km)130
Waterways800 (km)73
Merchant marine6,413 1


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures1.00 (% 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

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. Aba ...
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 fores ...
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. T ...
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. ...