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Panama Terrain: interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills;

Natural Resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower;

Natural Hazards: occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area;

Population: 3,510,045 (July 2012 est.)

Profile

Quick Facts About Panama

Source: CIA World Factbook

Population: 3,410,676 (July 2010 est.)

Age Structure: 0-14 years: 28.9% (male 503,863/female 483,516)
15-64 years: 64% (male 1,104,267/female 1,079,786)
65 years and over: 7% (male 111,104/female 128,140) (2010 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

Languages: Spanish (official), English 14%; note – many Panamanians bilingual

Internet Users: 934,500 (2008)

Country Name
conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
local short form: Panama

Government Type: constitutional democracy

Capital name: Panama City
geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Military Branches: no regular military forces; Panamanian public forces include: Panamanian National Police (PNP), National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), National Border Service (SENAFRONT) (2010)

Background

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.

Area – Comparative slightly smaller than South Carolina
Area total: 75,420 sq km
land: 74,340 sq km
water: 1,080 sq km

Terrain: interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
Climate: tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
Natural Hazards: occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area