Panama: what to know?

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Panama is a small country in Central America with a diverse geography and economy. The Panama Canal is its main feature, built by the US military and now a central component to its economic success. Spanish is the official language, and Panama is a popular tourist destination.

Panama is an independent country located in Central America and the seat of the Panama Canal. Panama’s geography, economy and people make it a fascinating place to explore and visit. A small country, Panama, has an area of ​​only 78,200 square kilometers (48,591 sq mi) and shares borders with Colombia and Costa Rica. There are a number of steep mountain ranges in Panama, but the areas near the coast they are quite flat, made up of plains and rolling hills. The rainy season runs from May to January, with overall weather typically hot and humid.

The Panama Canal is the main feature of Panama and is the driving force behind the economic and political significance of this small nation. The channel itself is an artificial shipping lane that was built to provide a shorter shipping route from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Before the construction of the Panama Canal, large ships had to go down the entire coast of South America and up the opposite side to transport goods from the western side of North America to the entire continent of Europe.

The canal was built between 1904 and 1914 by the United States military, under a treaty between Panama and the United States that provided United States sovereignty over the canal and surrounding land. An agreement signed in 1977 detailed the complete transfer of the canal and surrounding lands to Panama by January 1, 2000. This was a peaceful transition and received widespread support.

The canal is a central component to Panama’s economic success, as well as an active service sector including banking, insurance, container ports and tourism. A canal expansion plan to increase the size of vessels that can access the canal will result in increased revenue and trade. This plan went through a popular vote and was supported by the people by a large margin.

Spanish is Panama’s official language, although many people are bilingual and speak English as well. Panamanians have a literacy rate of 92%, an average life span of 78 years, and an infant mortality rate of 13 deaths for every 1,000 live births. They are predominantly Roman Catholic, with a small minority of Protestants. Most of the people are mestizos, which is a mix of Native Amerindians and Caucasians, with minority populations of West Indians, Caucasians, and Native Amerindians.

Panama is a popular tourist destination, with most visitors concentrated in the area surrounding the Panama Canal. This area is a hub of services, cultural landmarks and restaurants. The main attraction is the canal itself, with several cruise lines offering trips just to experience it.

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