República de Panamá (Republic of Panama)
Reference work entry


  • Capital: Panama City

  • Population estimate, 2015: 3.93 m.

  • GNI per capita, 2014: (PPP$) 18,192

  • HDI/world rank, 2014: 0.780/60=

  • Internet domain extension: .pa

Civil Aviation

There is an international airport at Panama City (Tocumén International). The national carrier is COPA, which flew to nearly 50 different destinations in 2010. In 2012 scheduled airline traffic of Panama-based carriers flew 134.8 m. km; passenger-km totalled 14.5 bn. in the same year. In 2005 Tocumén International handled 2,710,857 passengers and 100,063 tonnes of freight.


Panama has a tropical climate, unvaryingly with high temperatures and only a short dry season from Jan. to April. Rainfall amounts are much higher on the north side of the isthmus. Panama City, Jan. 79 °F (26.1 °C), July 81 °F (27.2 °C). Annual rainfall 70″ (1,770 mm). Colón, Jan. 80 °F (26.7 °C), July 80 °F (26.7 °C). Annual rainfall 127″ (3,175 mm). Balboa Heights, Jan. 80 °F (26.7 °C), July 81 °F (27.2 °C). Annual rainfall 70″ (1,759 mm). Cristóbal, Jan. 80 °F (26.7 °C), July 81 °F (27.2 °C). Annual rainfall 130″ (3,255 mm).

Constitution and Government

The 1972 constitution, as amended in 1978, 1983, 1994 and 2004, provides for a President, elected for 5 years, two Vice-Presidents and a 72-seat Legislative Assembly (since reduced to 71 seats) to be elected for 5-year terms by a direct vote. As a result of the amendment of 2004 there has only been one Vice-President since the election of May 2009. To remain registered, parties must have attained at least 50,000 votes at the last election. A referendum held on 15 Nov. 1992 rejected constitutional reforms by 64% of votes cast. Turnout was 40%. In a referendum on 30 Aug. 1998 voters rejected proposed changes to the constitution which would allow for a President to serve a second consecutive term.


The monetary unit is the balboa (PAB) of 100 centésimos, at parity with the US dollar. The only paper currency used is that of the USA. US coinage is also legal tender.


The armed forces were disbanded in 1990 and constitutionally abolished in 1994. Divided between both coasts, the National Maritime Service, a coast guard rather than a navy, numbered around 600 personnel in 2011. In addition there is a paramilitary police force of 11,000 and a paramilitary national air service of 400 with no combat capable aircraft. In 2013 defence expenditure totalled US$637 m. (US$179 per capita), representing 1.5% of GDP.


Agriculture accounted for 5.3% of GDP in 2010, industry 16.8% and services 77.9%.


The labour force in 2013 was 1,799,000 (1,414,000 in 2003). 69.9% of the population aged 15–64 was economically active in 2013. In the same year 4.1% of the population was unemployed.


In 2008 there were seven dailies with a combined circulation of 233,000.


The 1,435 mm gauge Ferrocarril de Panama, which connects Ancón on the Pacific with Cristóbal on the Atlantic along the bank of the Panama Canal, is the principal railway. Traffic in 2004 amounted to 77,000 passengers and 700,000 tonnes of freight. The United Brands Company runs 376 km of railway, and the Chiriquí National Railroad 171 km.


80% of the population is Roman Catholic and 14% Protestant. The remainder of the population follow other religions (notably Islam). There is freedom of religious worship and separation of Church and State. Clergymen may teach in schools but may not hold public office. In Feb. 2016 there was one Roman Catholic cardinal.


In 2006 there were 13,365 km of roads, of which 34.1% were paved. The road from Panama City westward to the cities of David and Concepción and to the Costa Rican frontier, with several branches, is part of the Pan-American Highway. The Trans-Isthmian Highway connects Panama City and Colón. In 2007 there were 436,200 passenger cars, 174,500 lorries and vans and 20,100 buses and coaches. There were 425 road accident fatalities in 2007.


Panama, a nation with a transcendental maritime career and a strategic geographic position, is the shipping world’s preferred flag for ship registry. The Ship Registry System equally accepts vessels of local or international ownership, as long as they comply with all legal parameters. Ship owners also favour Panamanian registry because fees are low. The Panamanian merchant fleet is the largest in the world. In Jan. 2009 there were 6,842 ships of 300 GT or over registered, totalling 180.87 m. GT (representing 22.9% of the world total). Of the 6,842 vessels registered, 2,198 were bulk carriers, 2,174 general cargo ships, 1,078 oil tankers, 798 container ships, 221 chemical tankers, 201 liquid gas tankers and 172 passenger ships.

Social Statistics

2006 births, 65,764; deaths, 14,358; marriages, 10,747; divorces, 2,866. Birth rate, 2006 (per 1,000 population), 20.0; death rate, 4.4. Annual population growth rate, 2000–05, 2.5%. Expectation of life at birth, 2007, was 73.0 years for males and 78.2 years for females. In 2006 the most popular age range for marrying was 25–29 for both males and females. Infant mortality, 2010, 17 per 1,000 live births; fertility rate, 2006, 2.4 births per woman.


Panama had 5,677,000 mobile phone subscriptions in 2009 (1,643.7 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 537,100 fixed telephone lines. There were 277.9 internet users per 1,000 inhabitants in 2009. In Dec. 2011 there were 896,000 Facebook users.

Territory and Population

Panama is bounded in the north by the Caribbean Sea, east by Colombia, south by the Pacific Ocean and west by Costa Rica. The area is 75,001 km0. Population at the census of 2010 was 3,405,813 (1,693,229 females); density, 44.9 per km2. The population was 75.5% urban in 2011. The largest towns (2010) are Panama City, the capital, on the Pacific coast (430,299) and its suburb San Miguelito (315,019). Other large towns are Las Cumbres, Tocumen, David, Arraiján and Colón. The population is a mix of African, American, Arab, Chinese, European and Indian immigrants. The official language is Spanish.


In 2011 there were 1,473,000 non-resident tourists (1,324,000 in 2010); spending by tourists totalled US$2,925 m. in 2011 (US$2,552 m. in 2010).

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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