GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT PANAMA
The Republic of Panama is located in the center of the Western Hemisphere, between the following coordinates: 7º12’07» and 9º38’46» North Latitude and 77º09’24» and 83º03’07» West Longitude. It limits to the North with the Caribbean Sea, to the East with the Republic of Colombia, to the South with the Pacific Ocean and to the West with the Republic of Costa Rica.
Panama forms a link between Central America and South America, constituting an isthmus 80 km wide at its narrowest section.
Official name: Republic of Panama.
Capital: Panama City Nationality: name: Panamanian(s); adjective: Panamanian/Panamanian.
Government: constitutional democracy, centralized Republic.
Legal System: based on the civil law system, judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice; accepts jurisdiction of international courts, with certain reservations
Official Language: The official language in the Republic of Panama is Spanish, however, many Panamanians are bilingual (English/Spanish).
Climate: The climate of Panama is pleasantly tropical and the temperature is usually uniform throughout the year. The nights are generally fresh. The average temperature is 27°C. The country has two seasons: rainy and dry. The first extends from May to December with rains that allow the warm rays of the sun to be received for a large part of the day. During the dry season, called «summer», from mid-December to April, the pleasant trade winds blow permanently.
Local time: Panama time is the same as the official Eastern time of the United States GMT-5 all year round.
Taxes: All purchases in Panama are taxed with a 7% Transfer Tax on Personal Property (ITBM), except for medicines, food and school supplies. Some tourist services charge an additional 10%.
Tipping: Tips are not always included in restaurant prices. It is customary to give between 10% and 15% of the total consumed.
Official Currency: The official currency of the Republic of Panama is the Balboa. However, the circulating paper currency is the US dollar, freely circulating. The Balboa (Balboas — plural); 1 balboa = 100 hundredths, being the exchange rate 1 Balboa = 1 Dollar.
Electric Current: 110V and 220V
Driver’s License: Visitors may drive up to 90 days with a foreign license. They must present their passport if requested.
- Trade: 9:30 a.m. to 19:00 hours on a continuous day. The trade is also open on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Banks: 8:30a.m. at 2:30 p.m. ATMs are available to users day and night.
- Public offices: 8:30 a.m. at 4:30 p.m.
Borders: 555 km total; Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km Coasts: 2,490 km. It limits to the North with the Caribbean Sea, to the South with the Pacific Ocean, to the East with the Republic of Colombia and to the West with the Republic of Costa Rica.
Land Area: 75,517 Km2. (29,340 square miles).
Territorial Sea: 200 nmThe highest elevation in Panama is the Barú volcano: this volcano is surrounded by the National Park of the same name. The Barú volcano is located in the province of Chiriquí, with an area of 14,325 hectares (35,000 acres), protecting unique and invaluable species. In this region the temperatures are between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. The height of this volcano is 3,475 meters above sea level (11,000 feet), this being the highest elevation in the Republic of Panama. With good weather conditions, it is possible to observe both oceans from the top of the volcano.
Ethnic groups: 70% are mestizo, 10% white, 12% mulatto and 8% indigenous.
Population (2000 Census): 2,839,177
Population Density: 81 per square mile
Age Distribution: (%): 0-14 years 37.0%, 15-59 years 56.3%, 60+ years 6.7%
Literacy rate: 90%
Religions: more than 93% Roman Catholics, 6% Protestants. The National Constitution establishes «the profession of all religions is free, as well as the exercise of all cults, with no other limitation than respect for Christian morality and public order.
Independence: Panama gained independence from Spain on November 28, 1821; separated from Colombia on November 3, 1903.
National Days: January 1 – New Year, January 9 – Martyrs’ Day, February 8 – Shrove Tuesday, March 25 – Good Friday, May 1 – Labor Day, October 12 – Columbus Day , November 3-Separation of Panama from Colombia, November 10-First Cry of Independence, November 28-Independence of Panama from Spain, December 8-Mother’s Day, December 25-Christmas.
Political division: 9 provinces and 5 regional territories*; Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, Coclé, Colón, Darién, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama, Kuna Yala*, Ngobe Buglé*, Embera Wounaan No.1*, Embera Wounaan No.2* and Veraguas Total Area: 78,200 square km (30,193 square miles).
Economic Profile: Panama is a country of services that has its most important economic activities in the Colon Free Zone, the Panama Canal and Business Tourism. The export of manufactured goods in the country is insignificant in relation to the contribution of the service sector to the economy. The tourist activity has enjoyed an increase in relation to previous years. There is a government policy aimed at making this activity one of the main ones within the national economy, through a sustained use of the abundant Panamanian tourist resources. In Panama there is a favorable environment for foreign investment. Several very attractive factors for businessmen stand out, such as the Panama Canal, the Colon Free Zone, the Panama Canal Authority, the Processing Zones, in addition to the validity of the dollar as legal tender. In such a way that the investor finds unique advantages in our country for investment.
For more information: visit the website of the Ministry of Economy and Finance: www.mef.gob.pa