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Country Profile: Panama (Republic of Panama)

1. Geography
Area: 77,082 sq.km.; the narrowest point of the Central American isthmus, and bisected by the Panama Canal.
Population: 2,855,683 in 2000; 3,266,131 in 2010; 3,779,174 in 2025
Capital: Panama City (1,075,000)
Other major city: Colon

2. Peoples
Spanish-speaking: 79.2%
Amerindians: 8.1%
Asians: 9%
English-speaking: 3.7%
Literacy: 91%
Official language: Spanish

3. Economy
Due to its key geographic location, Panama’s economy is service- based, 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. President Moscoso’s administration inherited an economy that is much more structurally sound and liberalized than the one inherited by its predecessor. Since the departure of the American troops and civilian population, the economy has slowed, but there is expectation for better growth in the future.
Exports: bananas, sugar, shrimp, coffee, clothing
Imports: capital goods, crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals
Industries: construction, petroleum refining, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling
Currency: balboa, US dollar
GDP per capita: 6,300

4. Politics
Republic with a constitutional democracy. 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 US Army Corps of Engineers built the Panama Canal between 1904 and 1914. On 7 September 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama which was accomplished by the end of 1999. With US help, dictator Manuel Noriega was deposed in 1989. The first woman president Mireya Elisa Moscosa Rodriguez, was elected 1 September 1999.

5. Religions
Christian: 2,515,571 adherents (88.09% of population)
Muslim: 99,949 adherents (3.50% of population)
Non-religious/other: 85,670 adherents (3.00% of population)
Buddhist: 59,969 adherents (2.10% of population)
Baha’i: 36,267 adherents (1.27% of population)
Sikh: 28,557 adherents (1.00% of population)
Traditional ethnic: 14,278 adherents (0.50% of population)
Hindu: 8,281 adherents (0.29% of population)
Jewish: 7,000 adherents (0.25% of population)
Churches: Catholic (1,200,559 members)
Assemblies of God (60,000 members)
Foursquare Gospel (54,102 members)
Seventh-day Adventist (35,300 members)
Ch of God (Cleveland) (12,275 members)
Latter-day Saints (Morm) (17,460 members)
Jehovah’s Witnesses (9,695 members)
Episcopal (7,057 members)
Baptist Convention (6,897 members)
Churches of Christ (5,000 members)
New Tribes Mission (6,000 members)
Guaymi Ev. Ch Assoc (5,000 members)
Methodist (2,200 members)
Pentecostal Christian (3,000 members)
Ch of the Nazarene (2,100 members)
Other denoms (52,173 members)

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