Panama flag

PRESIDENT: Ricardo Marinelli (July 2009 - 2014)

POPULATION: 3.1 million

KEY EXPORTS: bananas, coffee, fish

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Recent chronology

May 1999Mireya Moscoso, widow of Pres. Arnulfo Arias (deposed by Torrijos in 1968) won presidential election on a populist platform.
Sept. 1999Mireya Moscoso is inaugurated president, but outgoing Pres. Balladares didn't even attend the ceremony..
Dec. 1999U.S. hands over control of canal to Panama; Jimmy Carter attends the ceremonies.

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Central America map



Like Ecuador and Venezuela, Panama was originally part of "Gran Colombia" or "Nueva Granada." Unlike those two, however, Panama remained under control of Bogota until 1903, when an independence campaign inspired by the United States achieved secession. Construction under U.S. direction began, and the canal was completed in 1914. Resentment toward the U.S. over the U.S. Canal Zone In January 1997 the Panamanian legislature passed a measure that granted Hong-Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa concessions to operate the ports at both ends of the canal: Balboa . As a result, China now exercises considerable indirect influence over hiring of canal workers. The canal reverted to Panamanian control on December 31, 1999. A referendum on whether to widen the canal will be held October 22, 2006.


cosmopolitan atmosphere Ruben Blades


Tiny diamond Baseball: Small interest



Democratic Revolutionary Party Solidarity Party Others Panamenista Party (PA); formerly the Arnulfista Party
Hugo Guiraud / Martin Torrijos Jose Raul Mulino . Marco Ameglio
40 8 13 17

NOTE: Width of each column shows each party's approximate strength. Colors and position (left to right) represent ideological leanings, which are often vague. Numbers show how many seats each party has in the unicameral National Assembly. Minor parties are not shown.

SOURCE: CIA World Factbook