Panama has the perfect climate because it stretches from east to west getting the benefits of the trade winds coming onshore. Outside the hurricane belt further north, Panama enjoys stress-free living. Rainy season and dry season come and go without incidence. Just a short 18 years later, Spanish settlers had established the oldest European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas in what was called Panama Viejo, near the current Panama City. Finding that the two oceans were not far apart, conquistadors began transporting goods from the Caribbean side to the Pacific side in what became known as the El Camino Real or Royal Trail.

This enabled two-way traffic of carts carrying treasures to go from sea to sea. In the famous pirate Henry Morgan burned down the original Panama City. For over years, the Spanish ruled Panama. Struggles to gain control of many of the Central American countries continued for decades. In , Panama gained independence from Spain only to join what was then Colombia later that same year. In , a treaty between Colombia and the United States was signed, permitting the U.

By Panama wanted to declare itself independent from Colombia and in , Panama declared independence and the U. Colombia finally relinquished in and declared Panama a separate nation. As Panama came into its own, full control of the Panama Canal was given to Panama on the last day of the year in This was followed by a complete withdrawal of U.

Flights from around the world now fly into Panama. Panama is a four-hour flight from Houston, eleven-and-a-half-hour flight from Paris, and a five-hour flight from Toronto making Panama easily accessible. As Panama becomes more and more popular with travelers, Tocumen is adding new terminals and gates to allow airlines to establish new routes into the country. Between and the average GDP was 8. The forecast is a promising one for Panama in , with a prediction of the economy growing 5.

With money in the government coffers, infrastructure projects sponsored by the government continue to be implemented, making Panama one of the leading countries in Central America in terms of infrastructure with good roads, bridges, parks, and sporting venues. The stability of the government, location for shipping, world banking, and a prosperous outlook makes Panama one of the best places to live and do business. Not surprisingly, interest from foreign investments continues to grow every year and the population reflects this diversity.

For just over a quarter of a century, International Living has ranked, rated, and named the best retirement destinations in the world. Retiring and moving to Panama was supposed to be my time to relax and write. My plan was to spend a year checking out the country and writing. In my first few months here, I wrote my first two novels. Panama was everything I wanted from a new home. Sir Francis Drake 's famous raids on Panama in —73 and John Oxenham 's crossing to the Pacific Ocean were aided by Panama cimarrons, and Spanish authorities were only able to bring them under control by making an alliance with them that guaranteed their freedom in exchange for military support in The prosperity enjoyed during the first two centuries — while contributing to colonial growth; the placing of extensive regional judicial authority Real Audiencia as part of its jurisdiction; and the pivotal role it played at the height of the Spanish Empire — the first modern global empire — helped define a distinctive sense of autonomy and of regional or national identity within Panama well before the rest of the colonies.

The end of the encomienda system in Azuero , however, sparked the conquest of Veraguas in that same year. In the newly conquered region, the old system of encomienda was imposed. On the other hand, the Panamanian movement for independence can be indirectly attributed to the abolition of the encomienda system in the Azuero Peninsula , set forth by the Spanish Crown, in because of repeated protests by locals against the mistreatment of the native population.

In its stead, a system of medium and smaller-sized landownership was promoted, thus taking away the power from the large landowners and into the hands of medium and small-sized proprietors. Panama was the site of the ill-fated Darien scheme , which set up a Scottish colony in the region in This failed for a number of reasons, and the ensuing debt contributed to the union of England and Scotland in In , the privateer Henry Morgan , licensed by the English government, sacked and burned the city of Panama — the second most important city in the Spanish New World at the time.

In the viceroyalty of New Granada northern South America was created in response to other Europeans trying to take Spanish territory in the Caribbean region.

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The Isthmus of Panama was placed under its jurisdiction. By this time, however, Panama's importance and influence had become insignificant as Spain's power dwindled in Europe and advances in navigation technique increasingly permitted ships to round Cape Horn in order to reach the Pacific. While the Panama route was short it was also labor-intensive and expensive because of the loading and unloading and laden-down trek required to get from the one coast to the other. As the Spanish American wars of independence were heating up all across Latin America, Panama City was preparing for independence; however, their plans were accelerated by the unilateral Grito de La Villa de Los Santos Cry From the Town of Saints , issued on November 10, , by the residents of Azuero without backing from Panama City to declare their separation from the Spanish Empire.

In both Veraguas and the capital this act was met with disdain, although on differing levels. To Veraguas, it was the ultimate act of treason, while to the capital, it was seen as inefficient and irregular, and furthermore forced them to accelerate their plans. Nevertheless, the Grito was an event that shook the isthmus to its very core.

It was a sign, on the part of the residents of Azuero, of their antagonism toward the independence movement in the capital. Those in the capital region in turn regarded the Azueran movement with contempt, since the separatists in Panama City believed that their counterparts in Azuero were fighting not only for independence from Spain, but also for their right to self-rule apart from Panama City once the Spaniards were gone. The Colonel was a staunch loyalist and had all of the isthmus' military supplies in his hands.

They feared quick retaliation and swift retribution against the separatists. What they had counted on, however, was the influence of the separatists in the capital. No military repercussions occurred because of skillful bribing of royalist troops. In the first 80 years following independence from Spain, Panama was a department of Colombia, after voluntarily joining at the end of The people of the isthmus made several attempts to secede and came close to success in , then again during the Thousand Days' War of —, understood among indigenous Panamanians as a struggle for land rights under the leadership of Victoriano Lorenzo.

The US intent to influence the area, especially the Panama Canal 's construction and control, led to the separation of Panama from Colombia in and its establishment as a nation. In that zone, the US would build a canal, then administer, fortify, and defend it "in perpetuity". From to , Panama was a constitutional democracy dominated by a commercially oriented oligarchy.

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Panama officially the Republic of Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá), is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to. Panama Canal to Implement Modifications to Transit Reservation System · Fitch LNG Tanker Registers 4,th Neopanamax Transit Through Panama Canal.

During the s, the Panamanian military began to challenge the oligarchy's political hegemony. The early s saw also the beginning of sustained pressure in Panama for the renegotiation of the Hay—Bunau-Varilla Treaty. Amid negotiations for the Robles—Johnson treaty, Panama held elections in Arias Madrid was declared the winner of elections that were marked by violence and accusations of fraud against Alianza del Pueblo. On October 1, , Arias Madrid took office as president of Panama, promising to lead a government of "national union" that would end the reigning corruption and pave the way for a new Panama.

A week and a half later, on October 11, , the National Guard Guardia Nacional ousted Arias and initiated the downward spiral that would culminate with the United States' invasion in Arias, who had promised to respect the hierarchy of the National Guard, broke the pact and started a large restructuring of the Guard. The military justified itself by declaring that Arias Madrid was trying to install a dictatorship, and promised a return to constitutional rule.

In the meantime, the Guard began a series of populist measures that would gain support for the coup. Parallel to this [ clarification needed ] , the military began a policy of repression against the opposition, who were labeled communists. The military appointed a Provisional Government Junta that was to arrange new elections. However, the National Guard would prove to be very reluctant to abandon power and soon began calling itself El Gobierno Revolucionario "The Revolutionary Government".

Under Omar Torrijos 's control, the military transformed the political and economic structure of the country, initiating massive coverage of social security services and expanding public education. The constitution was changed in For the reform to the constitution [ clarification needed ] the military created a new organization, the Assembly of Corregimiento Representatives, which replaced the National Assembly.

The new assembly, also known as the Poder Popular "Power of the People" , was composed of members selected by the military with no participation from political parties, which the military had eliminated. In Torrijos died in a plane crash. Despite the constitutional amendments which proscribed a political role for the military, the Panama Defense Force PDF , as they were then known, continued to dominate Panamanian political life.

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Barletta was declared the winner of elections that had been clearly won by Madrid. Ardito Barletta inherited a country in economic ruin and hugely indebted to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Amid the economic crisis and Barletta's efforts to calm the country's creditors, street protests arose, and so did military repression.

Meanwhile, Noriega's regime had fostered a well-hidden criminal economy that operated as a parallel source of income for the military and their allies, providing revenues from drugs and money laundering. Toward the end of the military dictatorship, a new wave of Chinese migrants arrived on the isthmus in the hope of migrating to the United States.

The smuggling of Chinese became an enormous business, with revenues of up to million dollars for Noriega's regime see Mon The military dictatorship, at that time [ when? He revealed details of electoral fraud [ clarification needed ] , accused Noriega of planning Torrijos's death and declared that Torrijos had received 12 million dollars from the Shah of Iran for giving the exiled Iranian leader asylum.

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He also accused Noriega of the assassination by decapitation of then-opposition leader, Dr. The Crusade called for a general strike. In response, the military suspended constitutional rights and declared a state of emergency in the country. On July 10, the Civic Crusade called for a massive demonstration that was violently repressed by the "Dobermans", the military's special riot control unit. That day, later known as El Viernes Negro "Black Friday" , left six hundred people injured and another six hundred detained, many of whom were later tortured and raped. United States President Ronald Reagan began a series of sanctions against the military regime.

The United States froze economic and military assistance to Panama in the middle of in response to the domestic political crisis in Panama and an attack on the US embassy. These sanctions did little to overthrow Noriega, but severely damaged Panama's economy. The sanctions hit the Panamanian population hard and caused the Gross Domestic Product GDP to decline almost 25 percent between and see Acosta n.

In May Panamanians voted overwhelmingly for the anti-Noriega candidates. The Noriega regime promptly annulled the election and embarked on a new round of repression. Described as a surgical maneuver, the action led to estimates of civilian death from to 4, during the two weeks of armed activities. The United Nations put the Panamanian civilian death toll at , the United States gave a figure of civilians killed and former US attorney general Ramsey Clark estimated 4, deaths.

On December 29, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling the intervention in Panama a "flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States". The urban population, many living below the poverty level, was greatly affected by the intervention. As pointed out in by a UN Technical Assistance Mission to Panama, the bombardments during the invasion displaced 20, people.

The most heavily affected district was impoverished El Chorrillo , where several blocks of apartments were completely destroyed. El Chorrillo had been built in days of Canal construction, a series of wooden barracks which easily caught fire under the United States attack. During its five-year term, the often-fractious government struggled to meet the public's high expectations. Its new police force was a major improvement over its predecessor but was not fully able to deter crime. Perez Balladares ran as the candidate for a three-party coalition dominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party PRD , the erstwhile political arm of military dictatorships.

Perez Balladares worked skillfully during the campaign to rehabilitate the PRD's image, emphasizing the party's populist Torrijos roots rather than its association with Noriega. He won the election with only 33 percent of the vote when the major non-PRD forces splintered into competing factions. His administration carried out economic reforms and often worked closely with the US on implementation of the Canal treaties. Moscoso's administration successfully handled the Panama Canal transfer and was effective in the administration of the Canal.

Torrijos ran his campaign on a platform of, among other pledges, a "zero tolerance" for corruption, a problem endemic to the Moscoso and Perez Balladares administrations. He formed a National Anti-Corruption Council whose members represented the highest levels of government and civil society, labor organizations, and religious leadership. In addition, many of his closest Cabinet ministers were non-political technocrats known for their support for the Torrijos government's anti-corruption aims.

Despite the Torrijos administration's public stance on corruption, many high-profile cases, [ clarification needed ] particularly involving political or business elites, were never acted upon. Conservative supermarket magnate Ricardo Martinelli was elected to succeed Martin Torrijos with a landslide victory in the May presidential election. Martinelli's business credentials drew voters worried by slowing growth due to the world financial crisis. He was sworn in on July 1, Its location on the Isthmus of Panama is strategic.

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Sparsely inhabited by humans, this wildlife refuge teems with amazing bird and marine life. An example of undisturbed, unique culture in Panama is that of the Guna who are known for molas. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were turned over to Panama by or on 31 December Panama used to participate in the PISA exams but due to debts and unsatisfactory exam results is postponing participation until For this reason education should be different in accordance with the social class to which the student should be related. Refined petroleum products - imports:

Panama's total area is 74, The dominant feature of Panama's geography is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. The divide does not form part of the great mountain chains of North America, and only near the Colombian border are there highlands related to the Andean system of South America.

The spine that forms the divide is the highly eroded arch of an uplift from the sea bottom, in which peaks were formed by volcanic intrusions.

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The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. As a whole, the range between Costa Rica and the canal is generally referred to by geographers as the Cordillera Central. This and unrest, and forest protection movements, create a break in the Pan-American Highway , which otherwise forms a complete road from Alaska to Patagonia. Panama's wildlife is the most diverse in Central America. It is home to many South American species as well as to North American wildlife.

Nearly rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. Mostly unnavigable, many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas. The central part of the river is dammed by the Gatun Dam and forms Gatun Lake , an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal. Once created, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world, and the dam was the largest earth dam.

The river drains northwest into the Caribbean. These Pacific-oriented rivers are longer and slower-running than those on the Caribbean side. Their basins are also more extensive. The Caribbean coastline is marked by several good natural harbors. The more than San Blas Islands near Colombia, are strung out over more than kilometres 99 miles along the sheltered Caribbean coastline. In total, the berths are over 2, metres 7, feet long with alongside depth of 15 metres 49 feet. The Port of Balboa has 18 super post- Panamax and Panamax quay cranes and 44 gantry cranes.

The Port of Balboa also contains 2, square metres 23, square feet of warehouse space. Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures are uniformly high—as is the relative humidity—and there is little seasonal variation. Temperatures on the Pacific side of the isthmus are somewhat lower than on the Caribbean, and breezes tend to rise after dusk in most parts of the country. Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama.

Climatic regions are determined less on the basis of temperature than on rainfall , which varies regionally from less than 1, millimeters Almost all of the rain falls during the rainy season, which is usually from April to December, but varies in length from seven to nine months. In general, rainfall is much heavier on the Caribbean than on the Pacific side of the continental divide.

Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane belt. Panama's tropical environment supports an abundance of plants. Forests dominate, interrupted in places by grasslands, scrub, and crops. Tree cover has been reduced by more than 50 percent since the s. Subsistence farming, widely practiced from the northeastern jungles to the southwestern grasslands, consists largely of corn, bean, and tuber plots.

Mangrove swamps occur along parts of both coasts, with banana plantations occupying deltas near Costa Rica. In many places, a multi-canopied rain forest abuts the swamp on one side of the country and extends to the lower reaches of slopes on the other. Panama's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government , and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government.

Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. National elections are universal and mandatory for all citizens 18 years and older.

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National elections for the executive and legislative branches take place every five years. Members of the judicial branch justices are appointed by the head of state. Panama's National Assembly is elected by proportional representation in fixed electoral districts, so many smaller parties are represented. Presidential elections requires a simple majority; out of the five last presidents only ex-president Ricardo Martinelli has managed to be elected with over 50 percent of the popular vote. Since the end of Manuel Noriega 's military dictatorship in , Panama has successfully completed five peaceful transfers of power to opposing political factions.

The political landscape is dominated by two major parties and many smaller parties, many of which are driven by individual leaders more than ideologies.

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He succeeded Mireya Moscoso , the widow of Arnulfo Arias. Panama's most recent national elections occurred on May 4, , with incumbent vice-President Juan Carlos Varela declared the victor. Want a mountain escape, instead? A minute flight west from Panama City, or an eight-hour bus ride, takes you to Boquete, near the Costa Rican border. It's the perfect place for rest and relaxation. Got your own favorite Panama City experience? Let him know on Twitter or Instagram: Do the stopover Copa Airlines, the flag carrier of Panama, makes it easy for flyers to get a quick taste of Panama City with its Panama Stopover.

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