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currency: Balboa, US Dollar (PAB, USD)
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Panama profile
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 history
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 2015.
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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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Panama's capital city is Panama City
amazing Panama facts
Panama Constitution:

11 October 1972;
revised several times
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Panama population growth rate: 1.41%
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Panama highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m
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Panama lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
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About 7% of Panama's land is arable.
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Chucunaque River is the Longest River in Panama
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Panama birth rate is 19 births/1,000 population
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Panama infant mortality rate is 11 deaths/1,000 live births
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Panama fertility rate is 2.4 children born/woman
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Panama climate:

tropical maritime;
hot, humid, cloudy;
prolonged rainy season (May to January),
short dry season (January to May)
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Top 10 cities of Panama with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Panama City: 430,299
2. San Miguelito: 315,019
3. Las Cumbres: 127,440
4. La Chorrera: 118,521
5. Tocumen: 113,174
6. Pacora: 103,960
7. Arraij√°n: 96,676
8. David: 81,957
9. Viste Alegre: 55,114
10. Santiago de Veraguas: 51,236
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Panama ethnic groups:

mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) - 70%
Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) - 14%
white - 10%
Amerindian - 6%
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Panama Exports:

gold, bananas, shrimp, sugar, iron and steel waste, pineapples, watermelons
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Panama Imports:

fuel products, medicines, vehicles, iron and steel rods, cellular phones
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unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Administrative Divisions:
9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia).
1. Bocas del Toro
2. Chiriqui
3. Cocle
4. Colon
5. Darien
6. Herrera
7. Los Santos
8. Panama
9. Veraguas

and 3 indigenous territories (comarcas)
1. Embera-Wounaan
2. Kuna Yala
3. Ngobe-Bugle
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Change (CD) - Ricardo MARTINELLI
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) - Juan Carlos NAVARRO Quelquejeu
Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA) - Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz
Panamenista Party - Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez (formerly the Arnulfista Party)
Popular Party (PP) - Milton HENRIQUEZ (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
note: The Patriotic Union Party (UP) has merged with Democratic Change (CD)