Panama Facts

Panama Facts and History

North America

Panama – the southernmost country in Central America

Anyone who hears about Panama thinks first of all of the Panama Canal.

Panama, the southernmost country in Central America, stretches between Colombia, Costa Rica, the Caribbean islands and the gigantic Pacific Ocean. This makes it the connecting bridge between North and South America. And of course everyone who hears the name Panama inevitably immediately thinks of the Panama Canal. This artificial waterway, about 82 kilometers long, is the fastest sea connection between the east and west coast of North America and cuts through Panama at its narrowest point. Before its completion in 1914, the ships that operated between New York and San Francisco, for example, had to cover an estimated 30,000 kilometers and the very dangerous journey around the notorious Cape Horn. However, those times are long gone. And even today the canal is the most important source of economic income in the country, which is only 25% populated so far. Around 930,000 ships have already passed through it.

However, the fascinating and beautiful Panama has a lot more to offer than “just” the canal. In addition to the almost 2,000 kilometers of coastline and dense jungle, it has countless foolishly beautiful islands that are forgotten in the Caribbean and Pacific. The “Bocas del Toro” archipelago is particularly popular with tourists. These floating islands in the far north-west of the country with their fantastic national park are entered via beaches that are as white as pearls. The varied Panamanian landscape is characterized by “El Interior”, a huge savannah between the central mountains up to 3,500 meters high and the Peninsula de Azuero.

On November 3rd, the fun-loving Panamanians celebrate their national holiday, on which they commemorate their independence from Colombia. So it was only long after Cristóbal Colón first landed here and Vasco Núñez de Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific Ocean that Panama became an independent republic. The split from the Spanish colonial empire in 1821 was followed by the independence of Simón Bolívar’s founding Greater Colombia in 1903.

While in some parts of the country, especially on the Caribbean coast, the traditional life of the Kuna Yala Indians still prevails, the contrast is formed by Panama City, a hectic, crazy metropolis full of chaos and hellish joy. The city is the south entrance to the canal and the economic and financial center of the country. In addition to the “Casco Viejo”, a grandiose, but at night very gloomy old town with countless museums and churches, it also impresses with the Parque Natural Metropolitano with its unexpectedly rich fauna. And the Panamericana runs through the whole republic, which meanders its entire length from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and measures almost 28,000 kilometers at the longest point.

Name of the country República de Panamá(Republic of Panama)
Form of government Presidential Republic
Geographical location Panama is located in Central America on the canal of the same name, between Costa Rica in the north and Colombia in the south.
National anthem Hymno Istmeno
National holiday November 3rd (independence from Colombia in 1903)
Population around 4.3 million (Credit: Countryaah: Panama Population)
Ethnicities Around 64% of the population are mestizos, blacks and mulattos make up around 14%, Caucasians, i.e. whites, are around 10% and Asians around 4%. The rest is spread across different nations.
Religions Approx. 80% are Catholic and around 15% are Protestant Christians. The rest is distributed among other religions, few are non-denominational.
Languages The official language is Spanish.English and various Indian dialects are also spoken.
Capital Panama City with around 1.5 million residents
Surface 75,517 km²
Landmark Panama Canal
Highest mountain Volcán Barú, 3,475 m
Longest river Chucunaque
Largest lake Gatun, 430 km²
International license plate PA
National currency Balbao
Time difference to CET – 6 h
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .pa

Panama: history

Before the year 1000

The first evidence of human life in what is now Panama goes as far as 5,500 BC. BC back. After that, people who were descendants of Mongolian tribes lived here, who had come to Alaska many millennia earlier and who over time moved further and further south.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

According to Abbreviationfinder website, during the colonization of South and Central America, especially by the Spaniards, today’s Panama also became part of the Spanish colonial empire. In 1500 the Spaniard Rodrigo de Bastidas explored the southern Atlantic coast in what is now Panama. In September 1513 the Spaniard Vasco Nunez de Balboa was the first to cross what is now Panama from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In 1519 the Spaniard Pedrarias Dávila founded a branch near what is now Panama City (City). In 1543 the Spanish possessions in the area of today’s state of Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela and Colombia were added to the Spanish Vice Kingdom of Peru as New Granada. In 1717 New Granada became an independent vice kingdom under the Spanish crown.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

After Simón Bolivar had expelled the Spaniards from present-day Colombia and Venezuela in 1821 and had proclaimed the Republic of Greater Colombia, today’s Panama joined. Panama remained a province of Colombia until the beginning of the 20th century.

In the 20th and 21st centuries

It was not until November 3, 1903, that the country became independent, with considerable US involvement. But the so-called Canal Zone, in which construction of the Panama Canal began, remained under US administration. It only came under the full control of Panama on January 1, 2000.

On November 3, 1903, Panama became an independent state. Shortly thereafter, a contract was signed with the USA on the construction of the Panama Canal and certain sovereign rights for the USA in the canal area. On September 7, 1977, Panama and the USA signed an agreement that provided for the transfer of the entire canal zone to Panama on January 1, 2000.

In 1981, after the death of President Omar Trijos Herreros, General Manuel Noriega practically took over power in the country as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. In 1989, the invasion began on December 20th, the dictator Manuel Noriega was overthrown with the help of an American invading army and then brought to the USA. He was sentenced there in 1992 to 40 years in prison for drug offenses, extortion and the murder of oppositionists. He’s still sitting there today.

On May 3, 2009 the right-hand pullover and entrepreneur Ricardo Martinelli surprisingly won the presidential election with 60.4%. It was the fourth presidential election in the country after Noriega.

Panama Facts