Panama 1998Panama

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Panama - Introduction 1998
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Background: 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. On 7 September 1977 an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by 1999. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the intervening years. With US help dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989.

Panama - Geography 1998
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Location: Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica

Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 80 00 W

Map referenceCentral America and the Caribbean

Total: 78,200 km²
Land: 75,990 km²
Water: 2,210 km²
Comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land boundaries
Total: 555 km
Border countries: (2) Colombia 225 km; , Costa Rica 330 km

Coastline: 2,490 km

Maritime claims: territorial sea:200 nm

Climate: tropical; 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

Extremes lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Extremes highest point: Volcan de Chiriqui 3,475 m

Natural resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 7%
Permanent crops: 2%
Permanent pastures: 20%
Forests and woodland: 44%
Other: 27% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 320 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: NA

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

Panama - People 1998
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Population: 2,735,943 (July 1998 est.)
Growth rate: 1.56% (1998 est.)

Noun: Panamanian(s)
Adjective: Panamanian

Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%

Languages: Spanish (official), English 14%
Note: many Panamanians bilingual

Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 32% (male 446,001; female 428,532)
15-64 years: 62% (male 864,382; female 841,870)
65 years and over: 6% (male 74,529; female 80,629) (July 1998 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 1.56% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 21.99 births/1000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.14 deaths/1000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.28 migrant(s)/1000 population (1998 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation
International agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
International agreements signed but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 24 deaths/1000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 74.47 years
Male: 71.73 years
Female: 77.31 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 90.8%
Male: 91.4%
Female: 90.2% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Panama - Government 1998
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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 republic

Capital: Panama

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (provincias, singular_provincia) and 2 territories* (comarca; Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas*, Veraguas, and a new, as yet unnamed territory* or 'comarca' created 7 March 1997 when President PEREZ BALLADARES signed a bill designating a reserve stretched across three provinces

Dependent areas

Independence: 3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain 28 November 1821)

National holiday: Independence Day, 3 November (1903)

Constitution: 11 October 1972; major reforms adopted April 1983

Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES Gonzalez Revilla (since 1 September 1994); First Vice President Tomas Gabriel ALTAMIRANO DUQUE (since 1 September 1994); Second Vice President Felipe Alejandro VIRZI Lopez (since 1 September 1994); note_the president is both the chief of state and head of government: ead of
Government: President Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES Gonzalez Revilla (since 1 September 1994); First Vice President Tomas Gabriel ALTAMIRANO DUQUE (since 1 September 1994); Second Vice President Felipe Alejandro VIRZI Lopez (since 1 September 1994); note_the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
Elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 8 May 1994 (next to be held 2 May 1999)
Election results: Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES elected president; percent of vote_Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES (PRD) 33%, Mireya MOSCOSO DE GRUBER (PA) 29%, Ruben BLADES (MPE) 17%, Ruben Dario CARLES (MOLIRENA) 16%

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (72 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Elections: last held 8 May 1994 (next to be held 2 May 1999)
Election results: percent of vote by party_NA; seats by party_PRD 32, PS 4, PALA 1, PA 14, MPE 6, MOLIRENA 4, PLA 3, PRC 3, PLN 2, PDC 1, UDI 1, MORENA 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

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia), nine judges appointed for 10-year terms; five superior courts; three courts of appeal

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: AG (associate), CACM, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Eloy ALFARO de Alba
In the us chancery: 2,862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
In the us consulates general: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador William John HUGHES
From the us embassy: Avenida Balboa and Calle 38, Apartado 6,959, Panama City 5
From the us mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34,002
From the us telephone: [507] 227-1777
From the us fax: [507] 227-1964

Flag descriptionflag of Panama: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Panama - Economy 1998
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Economy overview: Because of its key geographic location, Panama's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism. Since taking office in 1994, President PEREZ BALLADARES has advanced an economic reform program designed to liberalize the trade regime, attract foreign investment, privatize state-owned enterprises, institute fiscal reform, and encourage job creation through labor code reform. The government privatized its two remaining ports along the Panama Canal in 1997 and approved the sale of the railroad in early 1998. It also plans to sell other assets, including the electric company. Panama joined the World Trade Organization (WTrO) and approved a tariff reduction that will give the country the lowest average tariff rates in Latin America. A banking reform law was approved by the legislature in early 1998 and will take effect in June. After two years of near stagnation, the reforms are beginning to take root; GDP grew by 3.6% in 1997 and is expected to grow by more than 5% in 1998. The most important sectors driving growth have been the Panama Canal and the shipping and port activities. The Colon Free Zone also rebounded from a slow year in 1996.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 3.6% (1997 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 8%
Industry: 18%
Services: 74% (1997 est.)

Agriculture products: bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; fishing (shrimp)

Industries: construction, petroleum refining, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling

Industrial production growth rate: 0.4% (1995 est.)

Labor force
Total: 1.044 million (1997 est.)
By occupation governmentandcommunityservices: 31.8%
By occupation agriculture hunting and fishing: 26.8%
By occupation commerce restaurants and hotels: 16.4%
By occupation manufacturing and mining: 9.4%
By occupation construction: 3.2%
By occupation transportationandcommunications: 6.2%
By occupation finance insurance andrealestate: 4.3%
Note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 13.1% (1997 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $2.4 billion
Expenditures: $2.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $341 million (1997 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: total value:$592 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
Commodoties: bananas 43%, shrimp 11%, sugar 4%, clothing 5%, coffee 2%
Partners: US 37%, EU, Central America and Caribbean

Imports: total value:$2.95 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.)
Commodoties: capital goods 21%, crude oil 11%, foodstuffs 9%, consumer goods, chemicals
Partners: US 48%, EU, Central America and Caribbean, Japan

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $7.26 billion (1996 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: balboas (B) per US$1: 1.000 (fixed rate)

Panama - Energy 1998
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 3.6 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 1,355 kWh (1995)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Panama - Communication 1998
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: domestic and international facilities well developed
Domestic: NA
International: 1 coaxial submarine cable; satellite earth stations_2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Panama - Military 1998
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $78 million (1995; note_for police and security forces
Percent of gdp: NA%

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Panama - Transportation 1998
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 109 (1997 est.)
With paved runways total: 40
With paved runways over 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 5
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 14
With paved runways under 914 m: 19 (1997 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 69
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 17
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 52 (1997 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 40
Over 3047 m: 1
2438 to 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 5
914 to 1523 m: 14
Under 914 m: 19 (1997 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 69
914 to 1523 m: 17
Under 914 m: 52 (1997 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 130 km

Total: 355 km
Broad gauge: 76 km 1.524-m gauge
Narrow gauge: 279 km 0.914-m gauge


Waterways: 800 km navigable by shallow draft vessels; 82 km Panama Canal

Merchant marine
Total: 4,350 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 89,622,112 GRT/137,529,188 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 1,240, cargo 1,033, chemical tanker 195, combination bulk 67, combination ore/oil 19, container 426, liquefied gas tanker 175, livestock carrier 9, multifunction large-load carrier 5, oil tanker 524, passenger 40, passenger-cargo 6, railcar carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 296, roll-on/roll-off cargo 101, short-sea passenger 40, specialized tanker 15, vehicle carrier 158
Note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships from 76 countries among which are Japan 1,236, Greece 418, Hong Kong 273, South Korea 247, Taiwan 227, China 185, Singapore 119, US 112, Switzerland 85, and Indonesia 60 (1997 est.)

Ports and terminals

Panama - Transnational issues 1998
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Disputes international: none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: major cocaine transshipment point and major drug money-laundering center; no recent signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving

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