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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 2014-15.


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Geography

Location
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica

Geographic coordinates
9 00 N, 80 00 W

Map references
Central America and the Caribbean

Area World Ranking: 118
Total 75,420 sq km
Land 74,340 sq km
Water 1,080 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land boundaries
Total 555 km
Border countries
Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km

Coastline
2,490 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone
200 nm or edge of continental margin

Climate
Tropical maritime; 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

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point Volcan Baru 3,475 m

Natural resources
Copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Land use
Arable land 7.26%
Permanent crops 1.95%
Other 90.79% (2005)

Irrigated land
430 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
148 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
Per capita 254 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area

Environment - current issues
Water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Signed, but not ratified Marine Life Conservation

Geography - 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


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  Panama (Panama City):


  GPS points from Panama (Panama City)

Punta Vaca Monte Provincia De Panama

Cerro La Familia Provincia De Veraguas

Punta Tierra Provincia De Chiriqui

La Laguna Provincia De Veraguas

Cabecera Quebrada Ullama Provincia De Chiriqui

Cerro Chato Provincia De Veraguas

Rio Calobrito Provincia De Panama

La Boca Del Jobo Provincia De Cocle




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