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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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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Republic of Panama
Conventional short form Panama
Local long form Republica de Panama
Local short form Panama

Government type
Constitutional democracy

Capital
Name Panama City
Geographic coordinates 8 58 N, 79 32 W
Time difference
UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions
9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 3 indigenous territories* (comarcas); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Embera-Wounaan*, Herrera, Kuna Yala*, Los Santos, Ngobe-Bugle*, Panama, Veraguas

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

Constitution
11 October 1972; revised several times

Legal system
Civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice

International law organization participation
Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state
President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government
President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009)
Cabinet
Cabinet appointed by the president
Elections
President and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (president not eligible for immediate reelection and must sit out two additional terms (10 years) before becoming eligible for reelection); election last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
Election results
Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal 60%, Balbina HERRERA 38%, Guillermo ENDARA Galimany 2%
Note
The ruling government coalition - formerly comprised of CD (Democratic Change), Panamenista Party, MOLIRENA (Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement), and UP (Patriotic Union Party) - split in August 2011 when MARTINELLI relieved Vice President VARELA from his position as Foreign Minister prompting the Panamenistas to pull out of the coalition; UP has now merged with CD, and CD and the Panamenista Party will now run separate candidates for the presidency in 2014

Legislative branch
Unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Elections
Last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014)
Election results
Percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 26, Panamenista 22, CD 14, UP 4, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1, independents 2; note - changes in political affiliation now reflect the following seat distribution: as of 1 March 2012 - seats by party - CD 34, PRD 18, Panamenista 15, MOLIRENA 3, PP 1
Note
Legislators from outlying rural districts are chosen on a plurality basis while districts located in more populous towns and cities elect multiple legislators by means of a proportion-based formula

Judicial branch
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for staggered 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal

Political parties and leaders
Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Francisco SANCHEZ Cardenas]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]; Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or UP (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Milton HENRIQUEZ] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
Note
The Patriotic Union Party (UP) has now merged with Democratic Change (CD)

Political pressure groups and leaders
Chamber of Commerce; Concertacion Nacional (mechanism for government of Panama to formally dialogue with representatives of civil society); National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP

International organization participation
BCIE, CAN (observer), CELAC, CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, SICA, UN, UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador Mario Ernesto JARAMILLO Castillo
Chancery
2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone [1] (202) 483-1407
FAX [1] (202) 483-8416
Consulate(s) general
Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission Ambassador Phyllis M. POWERS
Embassy
Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas Panama, Apartado Postal 0816-02561, Zona 5, Panama City
Mailing address
American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
Telephone [507] 207-7000
FAX [507] 317-5568

Flag description
Divided into four, equal rectangles; the top quadrants are white (hoist side) with a blue five-pointed star in the center and plain red; the bottom quadrants are plain blue (hoist side) and white with a red five-pointed star in the center; the blue and red colors are those of the main political parties (Conservatives and Liberals respectively) and the white denotes peace between them; the blue star stands for the civic virtues of purity and honesty, the red star signifies authority and law

National symbol(s)
Harpy eagle

National anthem
Name "Himno Istemno" (Isthmus Hymn)
Lyrics/music
Jeronimo DE LA OSSA/Santos A. JORGE
Note Adopted 1925


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  Panama (Panama City):


  GPS points from Panama (Panama City)

Panama Railroad Pond Provincia De Panama

Rio Del Gato Provincia De Herrera

Cogoyales Provincia De Veraguas

Cuchirvito Provincia De Panama

El Cope Numero Dos Provincia De Herrera

Los Rizos Provincia De Panama

Can Can Provincia De Colon

Los Llanitos Provincia De Panama




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