The World Factbook (1990)/Panama



World Factbook (1990) Panama.jpg

See regional map III


Total area: 78,200 km²; land area: 75,990 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land boundaries: 555 km total; Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km

Coastline: 2,490 km

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 200 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)

Terrain: interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills

Natural resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp

Land use: 6% arable land; 2% permanent crops; 15% meadows and pastures; 54% forest and woodland; 23% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: dense tropical forest in east and northwest

Note: 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


Population: 2,425,400 (July 1990), growth rate 2.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 26 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: NEGL migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 22 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 72 years male, 76 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.1 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Panamanian(s); adjective—Panamanian

Ethnic divisions: 70% mestizo (mixed Indian and European ancestry), 14% West Indian, 10% white, 6% Indian

Religion: over 93% Roman Catholic, 6% Protestant

Language: Spanish (official); 14% speak English as native tongue; many Panamanians bilingual

Literacy: 90%

Labor force: 770,472 (1987); 27.9% government and community services; 26.2% agriculture, hunting, and fishing; 16% commerce, restaurants, and hotels; 10.5% manufacturing and mining; 5.3% construction; 5.3% transportation and communications; 4.2% finance, insurance, and real estate; 2.4% Canal Zone; shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor

Organized labor: 17% of labor force (1986)


Long-form name: Republic of Panama

Type: centralized republic

Capital: Panama

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (provincias, singular—provincia) and 1 territory* (comarca); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Coclé, Colón, Darién, Herrera, Los Santos, Panamá, San Blas*, Veraguas

Independence: 3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain 28 November 1821)

Constitution: 11 October 1972; major reforms adopted April 1983

Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

National holiday: Independence Day, 3 November (1903)

Executive branch: president, two vice presidents, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justica) currently being reorganized

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Guillermo ENDARA (since 20 December 1989, elected 7 May 1989); First Vice President Ricardo Arias CALDERON (since 20 December 1989, elected 7 May 1989); Second Vice President Guillermo FORD (since 20 December 1989, elected 7 May 1989)

Political parties and leaders: Government alliance—Authentic Liberal Party (PLA); faction of Authentic Panamenista Party (PPA), Guillermo Endara; Christian Democrat Party (PDC), Ricardo Arias Calderon; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA), Alfredo Ramirez; former Noriegist parties—Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD, ex-official government party), Carlos Duque; Labor Party (PALA), Ramon Sieiro Murgas; People's Party (PdP, Soviet-oriented Communist party), Ruben Dario Sousa Batista; Democratic Workers Party; National Action Party (PAN); other opposition parties—Popular Nationalist Party (PNP), Olimpo A. Saez Maruci; factions of the former Liberal and Republican parties; Popular Action Party (PAP), Carlos Iván Zuniga; Socialist Workers Party (PST, leftist), José Cambra; Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT, leftist), Graciela Dixon

Suffrage: universal and compulsory at age 18

Elections: President—last held on 7 May 1989, annulled but later upheld (next to be held May 1994); results—anti-Noriega coalition believed to have won about 75% of the total votes cast;

Legislative Assembly—last held on 7 May 1989, annulled but later upheld; in process of reorganization (next to be held May 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(67 total) the Electoral Tribunal has confirmed 58 of the 67 seats—PDC 27, MOLIRENA 15, PLA 6, Noriegist PRD 7, PPA 3; legitimate holders of the other 9 seats cannot be determined and a special election will be held

Communists: People's Party (PdP), pro-Noriega regime mainline Communist party, did not obtain the necessary 3% of the total vote in the 1984 election to retain its legal status; about 3,000 members

Other political or pressure groups: National Council of Organized Workers (CONATO); National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP); Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE)

Member of: FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICO, IDA, IFAD, IDB—Inter-American Development Bank, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IRC, ITU, IWC—International Whaling Commission, IWC—International Wheat Council, NAM, OAS, PAHO, SELA, UN, UNESCO, UPEB, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Eduardo VALLARINO; Chancery at 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 483-1407; the status of the Consulates General and Consulates has not yet been determined; US—Ambassador Deane R. HINTON; Embassy at Avenida Balboa and Calle 38, Apartado 6959, Panama City 5 (mailing address is Box E, APO Miami 34002); telephone [507] 27-1777

Flag: divided into four, equal rectangles; the top quadrants are white with a blue five-pointed star in the center (hoist side) and plain red, the bottom quadrants are plain blue (hoist side) and white with a red five-pointed star in the center


Overview: The GDP contracted an estimated 7.5% in 1989, following a drop of 20% in 1988. Political instability, lack of credit, and the erosion of business confidence prompted declines of 20-70% in the financial, agricultural, commercial, manufacturing, and construction sectors between 1987 and 1989. Transits through the Panama Canal were off slightly, as were toll revenues. Unemployment remained about 23% during 1989. Imports of foodstuffs and crude oil increased during 1989, but capital goods imports continued their slide. Exports were widely promoted by Noriega trade delegations, but sales abroad remained stagnant.

GDP: $3.9 billion, per capita $1,648; real growth rate -7.5% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): -0.1% (1989 est.)

Unemployment rate: 23% (1989 est.)

Budget: revenues $598 million; expenditures $750 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1989 est.)

Exports: $220 million (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—bananas 40%, shrimp 27%, coffee 4%, sugar, petroleum products; partners—US 90%, Central America and Caribbean, EC (1989 est.)

Imports: $830 million (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—foodstuffs 16%, capital goods 9%, crude oil 16%, consumer goods, chemicals; partners—US 35%, Central America and Caribbean, EC, Mexico, Venezuela (1989 est.)

External debt: $5.2 billion (November 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 4.1% (1989 est.)

Electricity: 1,113,000 kW capacity; 3,270 million kWh produced, 1,380 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: manufacturing and construction activities, petroleum refining, brewing, cement and other construction material, sugar mills, paper products

Agriculture: accounts for 10% of GDP (1989 est.), 26% of labor force (1987); crops—bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane; livestock; fishing; importer of food grain, vegetables, milk products

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $515 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $568 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $4 million

Currency: balboa (plural—balboas); 1 balboa (B) = 100 centésimos

Exchange rates: balboas (B) per US$1—1.000 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 238 km total; 78 km 1.524-meter gauge, 160 km 0.914-meter gauge

Highways: 8,530 km total; 2,745 km paved, 3,270 km gravel or crushed stone, 2,515 km improved and unimproved earth

Inland waterways: 800 km navigable by shallow draft vessels; 82 km Panama Canal

Pipelines: crude oil, 130 km

Ports: Cristobal, Balboa, Puerto de La Bahía de Las Minas

Merchant marine: 3,187 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 46,502,092 GRT/72,961,250 DWT; includes 34 passenger, 22 short-sea passenger, 3 passenger-cargo, 1,087 cargo, 179 refrigerated cargo, 186 container, 71 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 136 vehicle carrier, 7 livestock carrier, 9 multifunction large-load carrier, 315 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 184 chemical tanker, 30 combination ore/oil, 91 liquefied gas, 8 specialized tanker, 767 bulk, 58 combination bulk; note—all but 5 are foreign owned and operated; the top 4 foreign owners are Japan 41%, Greece 9%, Hong Kong 9%, and the US 7% (China owns at least 144 ships, Yugoslavia 12, Cuba 6, and Vietnam 9)

Civil air: 16 major transport aircraft

Airports: 123 total, 112 usable; 42 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 15 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: domestic and international facilities well developed; connection into Central American Microwave System; 2 Atlantic Ocean satellite antennas; 220,000 telephones; stations—91 AM, no FM, 23 TV; 1 coaxial submarine cable

Defense Forces

Branches: the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) ceased to exist as a military institution shortly after the United States invaded Panama on 20 December 1989; President Endara is attempting to restructure the forces, with more civilian control, under the new name of Panamanian Public Forces (PPF)

Military manpower: males 15-49, 628,327; 433,352 fit for military service; no conscription

Defense expenditures: 2.0% of GDP (1987)