Facts

PANAMA COUNTRY MAP

  Panama's flag

FLAG OF PANAMA


Panama’s flag is a rectangle split into quarters. The top left contains a blue star on a white background. The top right quarter is filled red, the bottom left quarter is filled blue on the bottom right quarter contains a red star on a white background. The white represents peace, blue represents purity and honesty and red represents authority and law. The blue star also represents the country’s Conservative party and the red star represents Panama’s Liberal party. The flag was designed by the son of Manuel Amador Guerro, the man who went on to become Panama’s first President. A proposed design of the flag (pictured below) was based on the design of the flag of the United States with the colour scheme of the Spanish and Colombian flags. The image in the top left corner of the flag is meant to symbolise the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans joined by the Panama Canal. It was designed by Frenchman Bunau-Varilla but was rejected because it was designed by a foreigner.


Panama City (Spanish: Ciudad de Panamá) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a metro population of 1,501,691, and is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of Panama. The city is the political and administrative center of the country, as well as a hub for international banking and commerce. It is considered a “beta-” world city, one of three Central American cities listed in this category.


Currency



Panama’s official currency is the balbao. One balboa is equal to one US dollar. Despite having its own currency, all banknotes used in Panama are actually American dollar notes (it is now fairly common in Central American countries to have “dollarized” currencies). Panamanian balbao banknotes were produced in 1941, but were withdrawn after one week.

GEOGRAPHY

Panama is located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. This unique geographical position had blessed Panama with no natural disasters such as hurricanes (due to the protection of South America), or destructive earthquakes, which plague other Central and North American neighbors. The country of Panama covers 29,761 square miles, which is an area smaller than South Carolina. More than 25 percent of Panama’s territory is protected by 14 Panama National Parks and nature preserves, including the rainforests of the Parque Metropolitano which is a short 10 minute drive from Panama City. The tropical rainforest of the Darien Province is surpassed in size only by the Amazon basin, and is the second largest rainforest in the western hemisphere.
The Republic of Panama includes more than 1000 islands. The white sandy beaches of San Blas and the rich culture of the Kuna Indians are one of the best kept secrets of the Caribbean. Bocas del Toro, next to the Costa Rican border provides another set of islands with exuberant vegetation and the only marine park in the area. The mountains of Chiriqui Province are a perfect place to enjoy the flight of the Quetzal in the middle of the cloud forest. The Azuero peninsula is the birth place of Panamanian folklore as well as the site of one of the best beaches for surfing. The rich West Indian culture of the province of Colón can be seen in their dances and cuisine. The rainforest of Darién is home to the Emberá and Wounaan communities, as well as an impressive amount of native species of animals, birds, insects and plants. The area around Gamboa, half an hour from Panama City, has set the record for bird identifications for 20 years.

CLIMATE

Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May).
Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures are uniformly high—as is the relative humidity—and there is little seasonal variation. Diurnal ranges are low; on a typical dry-season day in the capital city, the early morning minimum may be 24 °C (75.2 °F) and the afternoon maximum 29 °C (84.2 °F). The temperature seldom exceeds 32 °C (89.6 °F) for more than a short time.
Temperatures on the Pacific side of the isthmus are somewhat lower than on the Caribbean, and breezes tend to rise after dusk in most parts of the country. Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama.
Climatic regions are determined less on the basis of temperature than on rainfall, which varies regionally from less than 1,300 millimeters (51.2 in) to more than 3,000 millimeters (118.1 in) per year. Almost all of the rain falls during the rainy season, which is usually from May through November, but varies in length from seven to nine months, with certain exception due to Monsoons. The cycle of rainfall is determined primarily by two factors: moisture from the Caribbean, which is transported by north and northeast winds prevailing during most of the year, and the continental divide, which acts as a rain shield for the Pacific lowlands.
A third influence that is present during the late autumn is the southwest wind off the Pacific. This wind brings some precipitation to the Pacific lowlands, modified by the highlands of the Península de Azuero, which form a partial rainshield for much of central Panama. Rainfall is generally much heavier on the Caribbean than on the Pacific side. The annual average in Panama City is little more than half of that in Colón. Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane belt.


POPULATION
As of 1 January 2016, the population of Panama was estimated to be 3 962 115 people. This is an increase of 1.64 % (63 777 people)   compared to population of 3 898 338 the year before. In 2015 the natural increase was positive, as the number of births exceeded the number of deaths by 57 968. Due to external migration, the population increased by 5 809. The sex ratio of the total population was 1.015 (1 015 males per 1 000 females)     which is lower than global sex ratio. The global sex ratio in the world was approximately 1 016 males to 1 000 females as of 2015.
During 2016 Panama population is projected to increase by 64 820 people and reach 4 026 935 in the beginning of 2017. The natural increase is expected to be positive, as the number of births will exceed the number of deaths by 58 917. If external migration will remain on the previous year level, the population will be increased by 5 904 due to the migration reasons. It means that the number of people who move into Panama (to which they are not native) in order to settle there as permanent residents (immigrants) will prevail over the number of people who leave the country to settle permanently in another country (emigrants).


LANGUAGE
Panama’s official language is Spanish although a large number of Panamanians are bilingual with English being the most common second language.

RELIGION
The government of Panama does not collect statistics on the religious affiliation of citizens, but various sources estimate that 75 to 85 percent of the population identifies itself as Roman Catholic and 15 to 25 percent as evangelical Christian.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE

Panamanian culture is a hybrid of African, Native Panamanian, and European culture – specifically Spanish. For example, the tamborito is a Spanish dance that was blended with Native American rhythms and dance moves. Dance is a symbol of the diverse cultures that have coupled in Panama.
Ethnically, the majority of the population is mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian) or mixed Spanish, Indian, Chinese, and West Indian. Chinese, Middle Eastern, Swiss, Yugoslav and North American immigrants have also added to this diverse cultural mix due to Panama’s unique location and history as a crossroads of the world. The majority of the population lives in urban areas, with more than half the population living in the Panama City-Colon metropolitan corridor.
The indigenous population of Panama comprises approximately 8 percent of the population and is composed of 7 distinct groups which are the Kuna, Embera, Waounan, Ngobe, Bugle, Nassau, and Terribe people. Each of the 9 Panama Provinces has a rich and varied folklore and cultural traditions which are expressed through its dances, cultural dress, music and cuisine. Traditional crafts include the colorful Mola, Tagua nut carvings, Wounaan and Embera woven baskets, balsa and cocobolo wood carvings, and pottery. The sale of native crafts to tourists has increased and helps to support the needs of the villages and native people.

EDUCATION
Education in Panama is compulsory for the first seven years of primary education and the three years of Middle School. As of the 2004/2005 school year there were about 430,000 students enrolled in grades one through six (95% attendance). The total enrollment in the six secondary grades for the same period was 253,900 (60% attendance). More than 90% of Panamanians are literate.
As of 2004, more than 92,500 Panamanian students attended the University of Panama, the Technological University of Panama, West Coast University – Panama and the University of Santa Maria La Antigua, a private Catholic institution. Including smaller colleges, there are 88 institutions of higher education in Panama.

ECONOMY
The economy of Panama is a fully dollarized free market economy with a history of low inflation. It is based mainly on the services industry, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism. The hand-over of the canal and military installations by the US has given rise to new construction projects.
Panama’s economy is based primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for nearly 80% of its GDP. Services include the Panama Canal, banking, the Colón Free Trade Zone, insurance, container ports, and flagship registry, medical and health, and other business. The country’s industry includes, manufacturing of aircraft spare parts, cements, drinks, adhesives, and textiles. Also the leading exports for Panama are bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, and clothing.
COMMUNICATIONS
Telephones: main lines in use: 640,000 (2012); mobile cellular: 6.77 million (2012). Radio broadcast stations: AM 80, FM 44, shortwave 0 (2007). Radios: 815,000 (2007). Television broadcast stations: 38 (including repeaters) (2007). Televisions: 510,000 (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 11,022 (2012). Internet users: 959,800 (2009).

TRANSPORT
Transport in Panama is fairly well developed. The majority of the trips are done by car while a great part in public transport. The public transportation system is in need of modernization and other improvements.
Railways

Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, also known as tracks.
It is also commonly referred to as train transport. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles run on a prepared flat surface, rail vehicles (“rolling stock”) are directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. Tracks usually consist of steel rails, installed on ties (sleepers) and ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves. Other variations are also possible, such as slab track, where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface.
Rolling stock in railway transport systems generally suffers lower frictional resistance than road vehicles, and the passenger and freight cars (carriages and wagons) can be coupled into longer trains. The operation is carried out by a railway company, providing transport between train stations or freight customer facilities. Power is provided by locomotives which either draw electric power from a railway electrification system or produce their own power, usually by diesel engines. Most tracks are accompanied by a signalling system. Railways are a safe land transport system when compared to other forms of transport.[Nb 1] Railway transport is capable of high levels of passenger and cargo utilization and energy efficiency, but is often less flexible and more capital-intensive than road transport, when lower traffic levels are considered.
Road system

Highways are well developed for Central American standards. In Panama there are 4 expressways working, all of them requiring toll payment:

Corredor Sur: Runs from Panama City to the Tocumen International Airport. Its length is 26 km.
Corredor Norte: Runs from Panama City to Colinas de Cerro Viento. It has a length of 20 km.
Autopista La Chorrera: Runs from Panama City to La Chorrera. It has a length of 44 km.
Colón Expressway: Runs from Panama City to Colón. It has a length of 59 km.

Waterways

A waterway is any navigable body of water. A shipping route consists of one or several waterways. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:

The waterway must be deep enough to allow the draft depth of the vessels using it;
The waterway must be wide enough to allow passage for the beam width of the vessels using it;
The waterway must be free of barriers to navigation such as waterfalls and rapids, or have a way around them (such as canal locks, boat lifts,etc.);
The current of the waterway must be mild enough to allow vessels to make headway. Vessels using waterways vary from small animal-drawn barges to immense ocean tankers and ocean liners, such as cruise ships.

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