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page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Panama
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Panama
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Introduction ::Panama
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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 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.
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Geography ::Panama
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Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica
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9 00 N, 80 00 W
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total: 75,420 sq km
country comparison to the world: 117
land: 74,340 sq km
water: 1,080 sq km
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slightly smaller than South Carolina
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total: 555 km
border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km
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2,490 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin
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tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
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interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
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lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m
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copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
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arable land: 7.26%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 90.79% (2005)
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430 sq km (2003)
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148 cu km (2000)
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total: 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
per capita: 254 cu m/yr (2000)
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occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area
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water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
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strategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming land bridge connecting North and South America; controls Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean
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People ::Panama
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3,360,474 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
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0-14 years: 29.3% (male 501,950/female 481,750)
15-64 years: 63.9% (male 1,085,435/female 1,061,530)
65 years and over: 6.8% (male 106,934/female 122,875) (2009 est.)
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total: 27 years
male: 26.6 years
female: 27.3 years (2009 est.)
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1.503% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
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20.18 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96
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4.66 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 195
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-0.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
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urban population: 73% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 12.67 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 139
male: 13.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 77.25 years
country comparison to the world: 59
male: 74.47 years
female: 80.16 years (2009 est.)
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2.53 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
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1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
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20,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
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fewer than 1,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
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degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2009)
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noun: Panamanian(s)
adjective: Panamanian
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mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
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Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
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Spanish (official), English 14%; note - many Panamanians bilingual
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 92.5%
female: 91.2% (2000 census)
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total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
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3.8% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 114
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Government ::Panama
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conventional long form: Republic of Panama
conventional short form: Panama
local long form: Republica de Panama
local short form: Panama
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constitutional democracy
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name: Panama City
geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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11 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Comarca Kuna Yala, Comarca Ngobe-Bugle, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas* (Kuna Yala), and Veraguas
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3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain 28 November 1821)
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Independence Day, 3 November (1903)
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11 October 1972; revised in 1978, 1983, 1994, and 2004
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based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
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18 years of age; universal and compulsory
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chief of state: President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (not eligible for immediate reelection; president and vice president must sit out two additional terms (10 years) before becoming eligible for reelection); election last held 3 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal 60%, Balbina HERRERA 38%, Guillermo ENDARA Galimany 2%
note: government coalition - PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party), PP (Popular Party)
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unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 3 May 2009 (next to be held May 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 26, Panamenista 22, CD 14, PU 4, Independent 2, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1
note: legislators from outlying rural districts are chosen on a plurality basis while districts located in more populous towns and cities elect multiple legislators by means of a proportion-based formula
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Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal
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Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Martin TORRIJOS Espino]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]; Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or UP (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Guillermo "Billy" FORD and Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Rene ORILLAC] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
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Chamber of Commerce; National Civic Crusade; National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP
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BCIE, CAN (observer), CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, SICA, UN, UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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chief of mission: Ambassador Jaime Eduardo ALEMAN Healy
chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
FAX: [1] (202) 483-8416
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa
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chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara J. STEPHENSON
embassy: Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas Panama, Apartado Postal 0816-02561, Zona 5, Panama City
mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
telephone: [507] 207-7000
FAX: [507] 317-5568
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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
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Economy ::Panama
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Panama's dollarized economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for 80% of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 25% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are now too large to transverse the transoceanic crossway, and should help to reduce the high unemployment rate. Strong economic performance has reduced the national poverty level to 29% in 2008; however, Panama has the second most unequal income distribution in Latin America. The government has implemented tax reforms, as well as social security reforms, and backs regional trade agreements and development of tourism. Not a CAFTA signatory, Panama in December 2006 independently negotiated a free trade agreement with the US, which, when implemented, will help promote the country's economic growth.
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$38.83 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
$35.56 billion (2007 est.)
$31.89 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$23.09 billion (2008 est.)
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9.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
11.5% (2007 est.)
8.5% (2006 est.)
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$11,700 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
$10,900 (2007 est.)
$9,900 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 6.4%
industry: 17.2%
services: 76.4% (2008 est.)
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1.392 million
country comparison to the world: 132
note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2008 est.)
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agriculture: 15%
industry: 18%
services: 67% (2006)
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5.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
6.4% (2007 est.)
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28.6% (2006 est.)
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lowest 10%: 0.8%
highest 10%: 41.4% (2006)
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56.1 (2003)
country comparison to the world: 12
48.5 (1997)
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25.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
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revenues: $6.02 billion
expenditures: $5.923 billion (2008 est.)
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45.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
69.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
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8.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
4.2% (2007 est.)
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 103
8.25% (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 81
$3.054 billion (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 55
$14.26 billion (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 74
$17.4 billion (31 December 2007)
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$6.568 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 80
$6.219 billion (31 December 2007)
$5.716 billion (31 December 2006)
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bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp
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construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling
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14.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
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6.322 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
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5.17 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
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124.9 million kWh (2007 est.)
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8.74 million kWh (2007 est.)
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
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94,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
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4,803 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
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87,100 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
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0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 133
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
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0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
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$-2.792 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
$-1.422 billion (2007 est.)
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$10.29 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$9.338 billion (2007 est.)
note: includes the Colon Free Zone
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bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing
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US 17.2%, Germany 14.6%, Italy 9%, Greece 6.1%, Netherlands 4.8%, Denmark 4.2%, Spain 4.2% (2008)
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$15 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
$12.52 billion (2007 est.)
note: includes the Colon Free Zone
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capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals
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Japan 29.5%, Singapore 17.6%, China 15.4%, US 13.2%, France 4.5% (2008)
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$2.443 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
$1.935 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$10.89 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
$10.45 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$NA
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$NA
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balboas (PAB) per US dollar - 1 (2008 est.), 1 (2007), 1 (2006), 1 (2005), 1 (2004)
note: the US dollar is the legal currency
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Communications ::Panama
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495,800 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 97
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3.805 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 95
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general assessment: domestic and international facilities well developed
domestic: mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased rapidly with combined fixed and mobile-cellular teledensity reaching 130 per 100 persons in 2008
international: country code - 507; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), the MAYA-1, and PAN-AM submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System (2008)
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AM 101, FM 134, shortwave 0 (1998)
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38 (including repeaters) (1998)
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.pa
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8,067 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 124
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934,500 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 92
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Transportation ::Panama
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117 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 52
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total: 54
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 30 (2009)
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total: 63
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 51 (2009)
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3 (2009)
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total: 76 km
country comparison to the world: 128
standard gauge: 76 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
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total: 11,978 km
country comparison to the world: 132
paved: 4,300 km
unpaved: 7,678 km (2002)
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800 km (includes 82 km Panama Canal) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 72
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total: 6,323
country comparison to the world: 1
by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 2,143, cargo 1,208, carrier 13, chemical tanker 565, combination ore/oil 6, container 790, liquefied gas 189, passenger 44, passenger/cargo 71, petroleum tanker 557, refrigerated cargo 265, roll on/roll off 128, specialized tanker 29, vehicle carrier 313
foreign-owned: 5,394 (Albania 2, Argentina 8, Australia 4, Azerbaijan 1, Bahamas 9, Bangladesh 2, Belgium 2, British Virgin Islands 1, Bulgaria 3, Burma 1, Canada 18, Chile 12, China 532, Colombia 4, Croatia 3, Cuba 10, Cyprus 19, Denmark 40, Dominican Republic 1, Ecuador 4, Egypt 17, Estonia 5, Finland 2, France 5, Gabon 1, Germany 44, Gibraltar 1, Greece 510, Hong Kong 130, India 27, Indonesia 31, Iran 7, Israel 3, Italy 28, Japan 2,335, Jordan 13, North Korea 1, South Korea 303, Kuwait 2, Latvia 8, Lebanon 5, Lithuania 7, Malaysia 12, Maldives 1, Malta 3, Mexico 2, Monaco 16, Netherlands 14, Nigeria 10, Norway 89, Oman 2, Pakistan 9, Peru 16, Philippines 7, Poland 11, Portugal 9, Qatar 1, Romania 7, Russia 18, Saudi Arabia 16, Singapore 100, Spain 50, Sri Lanka 1, Sweden 6, Switzerland 25, Syria 32, Taiwan 320, Thailand 10, Tunisia 1, Turkey 94, Turks and Caicos Islands 1, Ukraine 10, UAE 109, UK 59, US 126, Venezuela 10, Vietnam 30, Yemen 6)
registered in other countries: 3 (Marshall Islands 1, Sierra Leone 1, Venezuela 1) (2008)
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Balboa, Colon, Cristobal
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Military ::Panama
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no regular military forces; Panamanian public forces include: Panamanian National Police (PNP), National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), National Border Service (SENAFRONT) (2009)
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males age 16-49: 851,044 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 705,160
females age 16-49: 710,521 (2009 est.)
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male: 31,089
female: 29,939 (2009 est.)
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1% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 138
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on 10 February 1990, the government of then President ENDARA abolished Panama's military and reformed the security apparatus by creating the Panamanian Public Forces; in October 1994, Panama's Legislative Assembly approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting the creation of a standing military force but allowing the temporary establishment of special police units to counter acts of "external aggression"
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Transnational Issues ::Panama
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organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama
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current situation: Panama is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; the majority of victims are Panamanian women and children trafficked within the country into the sex trade; rural children in Panama may be trafficked internally to urban areas for labor exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Panama is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly with respect to prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing human traffickers for their crimes, and for failing to provide adequate victim assistance (2008)
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major cocaine transshipment point and primary money-laundering center for narcotics revenue; money-laundering activity is especially heavy in the Colon Free Zone; offshore financial center; negligible signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem
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The online Factbook is updated bi-weekly. ISSN 1553-8133
For additional information on government leaders in selected foreign countries, go to World Leaders.