Geographic and Governmental Profile of Panama

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.
Location
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica
Geographic coordinates
9 00 N, 80 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
total:
75,420 sq km
rank:
118
land:
74,340 sq km
water:
1,080 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries
total:
555 km
border countries:
Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km
Coastline
2,490 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm or edge of continental margin
Climate
tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
Terrain
interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point:
Volcan Baru 3,475 m
Natural resources
copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
Land use
arable land:
7.26%
permanent crops:
1.95%
other:
90.79% (2005)
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Irrigated land
430 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
148 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
per capita:
254 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area
Environment - current issues
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
Environment - international agreements
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
Geography - note
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
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)
Administrative divisions
9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 3 indigenous territories* (comarcas); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Embera-Wounaan*, Herrera, Kuna Yala*, Los Santos, Ngobe-Bugle*, Panama, Veraguas
Independence
3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain on 28 November 1821)
Constitution
11 October 1972; revised several times
Legal system
civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch
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 (president not eligible for immediate reelection and must sit out two additional terms (10 years) before becoming eligible for reelection); election last held on 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%
the ruling government coalition - formerly comprised of CD (Democratic Change), Panamenista Party, MOLIRENA (Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement), and UP (Patriotic Union Party) - split in August 2011 when MARTINELLI relieved Vice President VARELA from his position as Foreign Minister prompting the Panamenistas to pull out of the coalition; UP has now merged with CD, and CD and the Panamenista Party will now run separate candidates for the presidency in 2014
Legislative branch
unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections:
last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014)
election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 26, Panamenista 22, CD 14, UP 4, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1, independents 2; note - changes in political affiliation now reflect the following seat distribution: as of 1 March 2012 - seats by party - CD 34, PRD 18, Panamenista 15, MOLIRENA 3, PP 1
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
Judicial branch
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for staggered 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal
Political parties and leaders
Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Francisco SANCHEZ Cardenas]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]; Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or UP (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Milton HENRIQUEZ] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
The Patriotic Union Party (UP) has now merged with Democratic Change (CD)
Political pressure groups and leaders
Chamber of Commerce; Concertacion Nacional (mechanism for government of Panama to formally dialogue with representatives of civil society); 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
International organization participation
BCIE, CAN (observer), CELAC, CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, SICA, UN, UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Mario Ernesto JARAMILLO Castillo
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
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Phyllis M. POWERS
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
Flag description
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; the blue and red colors are those of the main political parties (Conservatives and Liberals respectively) and the white denotes peace between them; the blue star stands for the civic virtues of purity and honesty, the red star signifies authority and law
National symbol(s)
harpy eagle
National anthem
name:
"Himno Istemno" (Isthmus Hymn)
lyrics/music:
Jeronimo DE LA OSSA/Santos A. JORGE
adopted 1925
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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