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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. An ambitious expansion project to more than double the Canal's capacity - by allowing for more Canal transits and larger ships - was carried out between 2007 and 2016.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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


total: 75,420 sq km

land: 74,340 sq km

water: 1,080 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than South Carolina

Area comparison map
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 687 km

border countries (2): Colombia 339 km; Costa Rica 348 km


2,490 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin


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


interior mostly steep, rugged mountains with dissected, upland plains; coastal plains with rolling hills


highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 360 m

Natural resources

copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 30.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 7.3% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 43.6% (2018 est.)

other: 25.9% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

321 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Laguna de Chiriqui - 900 sq km

Population distribution

population is concentrated towards the center of the country, particularly around the Canal, but a sizeable segment of the populace also lives in the far west around David; the eastern third of the country is sparsely inhabited

Natural hazards

occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area

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

People and Society


4,337,768 (2022 est.)


noun: Panamanian(s)

adjective: Panamanian

Ethnic groups

Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and White) 65%, Native American 12.3% (Ngabe 7.6%, Kuna 2.4%, Embera 0.9%, Bugle 0.8%, other 0.4%, unspecified 0.2%), Black or African descent 9.2%, Mulatto 6.8%, White 6.7% (2010 est.)


Spanish (official), indigenous languages (including Ngabere (or Guaymi), Buglere, Kuna, Embera, Wounaan, Naso (or Teribe), and Bri Bri), Panamanian English Creole (similar to Jamaican English Creole; a mixture of English and Spanish with elements of Ngabere; also known as Guari Guari and Colon Creole), English, Chinese (Yue and Hakka), Arabic, French Creole, other (Yiddish, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese); note - many Panamanians are bilingual

major-language sample(s):
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Spanish audio sample:


Roman Catholic 48.6%, Evangelical 30.2%, other 4.7%, agnostic 0.2%, atheist 0.2%, none 12.3%, unspecified 3.7% (2018 est.)

Demographic profile

Panama is a country of demographic and economic contrasts. It is in the midst of a demographic transition, characterized by steadily declining rates of fertility, mortality, and population growth, but disparities persist based on wealth, geography, and ethnicity. Panama has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and dedicates substantial funding to social programs, yet poverty and inequality remain prevalent. The indigenous population accounts for a growing share of Panama's poor and extreme poor, while the non-indigenous rural poor have been more successful at rising out of poverty through rural-to-urban labor migration. The government's large expenditures on untargeted, indirect subsidies for water, electricity, and fuel have been ineffective, but its conditional cash transfer program has shown some promise in helping to decrease extreme poverty among the indigenous population.

Panama has expanded access to education and clean water, but the availability of sanitation and, to a lesser extent, electricity remains poor. The increase in secondary schooling - led by female enrollment - is spreading to rural and indigenous areas, which probably will help to alleviate poverty if educational quality and the availability of skilled jobs improve. Inadequate access to sanitation contributes to a high incidence of diarrhea in Panama's children, which is one of the main causes of Panama's elevated chronic malnutrition rate, especially among indigenous communities.

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.56% (male 508,131/female 487,205)

15-24 years: 16.59% (male 329,250/female 316,796)

25-54 years: 40.31% (male 794,662/female 774,905)

55-64 years: 8.54% (male 165,129/female 167,317)

65 years and over: 9.01% (male 160,516/female 190,171) (2020 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 53.9

youth dependency ratio: 40.8

elderly dependency ratio: 13.1

potential support ratio: 7.6 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 30.1 years

male: 29.6 years

female: 30.5 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.53% (2022 est.)

Birth rate

17.99 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Death rate

6.11 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Net migration rate

3.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Population distribution

population is concentrated towards the center of the country, particularly around the Canal, but a sizeable segment of the populace also lives in the far west around David; the eastern third of the country is sparsely inhabited


urban population: 69.1% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.92% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.938 million PANAMA CITY (capital) (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

52 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 16.44 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 17.69 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 15.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.62 years

male: 74.76 years

female: 80.66 years (2022 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.39 children born/woman (2022 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 88.1% of population

total: 96.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 11.9% of population

total: 3.8% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

7.6% of GDP (2019)

Physicians density

1.63 physicians/1,000 population (2019)

Hospital bed density

2.3 beds/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 95.5% of population

rural: 69.1% of population

total: 87.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 4.5% of population

rural: 30.9% of population

total: 12.8% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 6.54 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 5.29 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 1.2 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 5% (2020 est.)

male: 7.7% (2020 est.)

female: 2.2% (2020 est.)

Education expenditures

3.1% of GDP (2019 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 95.7%

male: 98.8%

female: 95.4% (2019)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 12 years

female: 13 years (2016)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 40.1%

male: 30.8%

female: 51.9% (2020 est.)


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: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 11.18 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 10.71 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 5.97 megatons (2020 est.)


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

Land use

agricultural land: 30.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 7.3% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 43.6% (2018 est.)

other: 25.9% (2018 est.)


urban population: 69.1% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 1.92% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0.08% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1,472,262 tons (2015 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Laguna de Chiriqui - 900 sq km

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 759.1 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 6.2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 446.1 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

139.3 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Panama

conventional short form: Panama

local long form: Republica de Panama

local short form: Panama

etymology: named after the capital city which was itself named after a former indigenous fishing village

Government type

presidential republic


name: Panama City

geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W

time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: according to tradition, the name derives from a former fishing area near the present capital - an indigenous village and its adjacent beach - that were called "panama" meaning "an abundance of fish"

Administrative divisions

10 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 4 indigenous regions* (comarcas); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Embera-Wounaan*, Guna Yala*, Herrera, Los Santos, Naso Tjer Di*, Ngabe-Bugle*, Panama, Panama Oeste, Veraguas


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

National holiday

Independence Day (Separation Day), 3 November (1903)


history: several previous; latest effective 11 October 1972

amendments: proposed by the National Assembly, by the Cabinet, or by the Supreme Court of Justice; passage requires approval by one of two procedures: 1) absolute majority vote of the Assembly membership in each of three readings and by absolute majority vote of the next elected Assembly in a single reading without textual modifications; 2) absolute majority vote of the Assembly membership in each of three readings, followed by absolute majority vote of the next elected Assembly in each of three readings with textual modifications, and approval in a referendum; amended several times, last in 2004

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


citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Laurentino "Nito" CORTIZO Cohen (since 1 July 2019); Vice President Jose Gabriel CARRIZO Jaen (since 1 July 2019); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Laurentino "Nito" CORTIZO Cohen (since 1 July 2019); Vice President Jose Gabriel CARRIZO Jaen (since 1 July 2019)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term; president eligible for a single non-consecutive term); election last held on 5 May 2019 (next to be held in 2024)

election results:
2019: Laurentino "Nito" CORTIZO Cohen elected president; percent of vote - Laurentino CORTIZO Cohen (PRD) 33.3%, Romulo ROUX (CD) 31%, Ricardo LOMBANA (independent) 18.8%, Jose BLANDON (Panamenista Party) 10.8%, Ana Matilde GOMEZ Ruiloba (independent) 4.8%, other 1.3%

2014: Juan Carlos VARELA elected president; percent of vote - Juan Carlos VARELA (PP) 39.1%, Jose Domingo ARIAS (CD) 31.4%, Juan Carlos NAVARRO (PRD) 28.2%, other 1.3%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; 45 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies - populous towns and cities - by open list proportional representation vote and 26 directly elected in single-seat constituencies - outlying rural districts - by simple majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 5 May 2019 (next to be held in May 2024)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 35, CD 18, Panamenista 8, MOLIRENA 5, independent 5; composition - men 55, women 16, percent of women 22.5%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 9 magistrates and 9 alternates and divided into civil, criminal, administrative, and general business chambers)

judge selection and term of office: magistrates appointed by the president for staggered 10-year terms

subordinate courts: appellate courts or Tribunal Superior; Labor Supreme Courts; Court of Audit; circuit courts or Tribunal Circuital (2 each in 9 of the 10 provinces); municipal courts; electoral, family, maritime, and adolescent courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance Party or PA [Jose MUNOZ Molina]
Alternative Independent Socialist Party or PAIS [Jose ALVAREZ]
Democratic Change or CD [Romulo ROUX]
Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Benicio ROBINSON]
Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Francisco "Pancho" ALEMAN]
Panamenista Party [Jose Isabel BLANDON Figueroa] (formerly the Arnulfista Party)
Popular Party or PP [Daniel Javier BREA Clavel] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)
Realizing Goals Party or RM [Ricardo Alberto MARTINELLI Berrocal]

International organization participation

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

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Ramón Eduardo MARTÍNEZ DE LA GUARDIA (since 16 September 2022)

chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407

FAX: [1] (202) 483-8413

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Tampa, Washington DC

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant), Charge d'Affaires Stewart TUTTLE (since August 2020)

embassy: Building 783, Demetrio Basilio Lakas Avenue, Clayton

mailing address: 9100 Panama City PL, Washington, DC 20521-9100

telephone: [507] 317-5000

FAX: [507] 317-5568

email address and website:

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 colors: blue, white, red

National anthem

name: "Himno Istmeno" (Isthmus Hymn)

lyrics/music: Jeronimo DE LA OSSA/Santos A. JORGE

note: adopted 1925

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 5 (2 cultural, 3 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Caribbean Fortifications (c); Darien National Park (n); Talamanca Range-La Amistad National Park (n); Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá (c); Coiba National Park (n)


Economic overview

Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for more than three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Trade Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism and Panama is a center for offshore banking. Panama's transportation and logistics services sectors, along with infrastructure development projects, have boosted economic growth; however, public debt surpassed $37 billion in 2016 because of excessive government spending and public works projects. The US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2011, and entered into force in October 2012.


Future growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and was completed in 2016 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 10-15% of current GDP. The expansion project more than doubled the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate high-capacity vessels such as tankers and neopanamax vessels that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The US and China are the top users of the Canal.


Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About one-fourth of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2012 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$109.52 billion (2020 est.)

$133.47 billion (2019 est.)

$129.54 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Real GDP growth rate

5.4% (2017 est.)

5% (2016 est.)

5.8% (2015 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$25,400 (2020 est.)

$31,400 (2019 est.)

$31,000 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$66.801 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.9% (2017 est.)

0.7% (2016 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BBB (2011)

Moody's rating: Baa1 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: BBB (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.4% (2017 est.)

industry: 15.7% (2017 est.)

services: 82% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 45.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 10.7% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 42.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 3% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 41.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -44.2% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, bananas, rice, poultry, milk, plantains, pineapples, maize, beef, pork


construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling

Labor force

1.633 million (2017 est.)

note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 17%

industry: 18.6%

services: 64.4% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate

6.14% (2018 est.)

6% (2017 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 40.1%

male: 30.8%

female: 51.9% (2020 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.1%

highest 10%: 38.9% (2014 est.)


revenues: 12.43 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 13.44 billion (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-1.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

37.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

37.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

20.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$3.036 billion (2017 est.)

-$3.16 billion (2016 est.)


$20.18 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$28.58 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$28.55 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

note: includes the Colon Free Zone

Exports - partners

Ecuador 20%, Guatemala 14%, China 8%, United States 6%, Netherlands 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

refined petroleum, copper, bananas, ships, coal tar oil, packaged medicines (2019)


$17.41 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$27.38 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$28.9 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

note: includes the Colon Free Zone

Imports - partners

China 21%, United States 19%, Japan 16%, Colombia 6%, Ecuador 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

ships, refined petroleum, crude petroleum, tanker ships, packaged medicines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.703 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$3.878 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$101.393 billion (2019 est.)

$94.898 billion (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

balboas (PAB) per US dollar -

1 (2017 est.)

1 (2016 est.)

1 (2015 est.)

1 (2014 est.)

1 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 92% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 99.4% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 77% (2019)


installed generating capacity: 4.106 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 10,808,780,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 427 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 77 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.309 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 24.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 2.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 6.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 66.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 1.118 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 1.15 million metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 143,700 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

129,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 552.744 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 552.744 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

25.263 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 1.905 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 22.281 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 1.077 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

Energy consumption per capita

98.946 million Btu/person (2019 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 649,156 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15 (2020 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 5,825,677 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 135 (2020 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Panama has seen a steady increase in revenue from the telecom sector in recent years; mobile services and broadband remain the key growth sectors, with mobile connections accounting for 90% of all connections, and over half of telecom sector revenue; the mobile market has effective competition; internet services have grown in recent years as consumers responded to government fixed-line projects, improved mobile broadband connectivity and mobile applications (2021)

domestic: fixed-line about 14 per 100 and rapid subscribership of mobile-cellular telephone roughly 132 per 100 (2020)

international: country code - 507; landing points for the PAN-AM, ARCOS, SAC, AURORA, PCCS, PAC, and the MAYA-1 submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

multiple privately owned TV networks and a government-owned educational TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV subscription services are available; more than 100 commercial radio stations (2019)

Internet users

total: 2,761,452 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 64% (2020 est.)

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 562,413 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2020 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 122

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 12,939,350 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 47.63 million (2018) mt-km


total: 117 (2021)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 57

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 20

under 914 m: 30 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 60

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 8

under 914 m: 51 (2021)


3 (2021)


128 km oil (2013)


total: 77 km (2014)

standard gauge: 77 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge


800 km (2011) (includes the 82-km Panama Canal that is being widened)

Merchant marine

total: 7,980

by type: bulk carrier 2,697, container ship 643, general cargo 1,381, oil tanker 771, other 2,488 (2021)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Balboa, Colon, Cristobal

container port(s) (TEUs): Balboa (2,894,654), Colon (4,379,477) (2019)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security: the Panama National Police (La Policía Nacional de Panamá, PNP), National Air-Naval Service (Servicio Nacional Aeronaval, SENAN), National Border Service (Servicio Nacional de Fronteras, SENAFRONT) (2022)

note: the PNP includes paramilitary special forces units for counterterrorism and counternarcotics missions; in addition to its 3 regionally-based border security brigades, SENAFRONT includes a special forces brigade, which is comprised of special forces, counternarcotics, maritime, and rapid reaction units

Military expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2022 est.)

1.3% of GDP (2021 est.)

1.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.2% of GDP (2019) (approximately $1.38 billion)

1.1% of GDP (2018) (approximately $1.33 billion)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 20,000 National Police; 4,000 National Border Service; 3,000 National Air-Naval Service (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

Panama's security forces are lightly armed; Canada, Italy and the US have provided equipment to the security forces since 2010 (2022)

Military - note

the MPS's chief focuses are countering narcotics trafficking and border security; Panama's security forces have long been criticized for being ineffective and corrupt

Panama created a paramilitary National Guard (Guardia Nacional de Panamá) in the 1950s from the former National Police (established 1904); the National Guard subsequently evolved into more of a military force with some police responsibilities; it seized power in a coup in 1968 and military officers ran the country until 1989; in 1983, the National Guard was renamed the Panama Defense Force (PDF); the PDF was disbanded after the 1989 US invasion and the current national police forces were formed in 1990; the armed forces were officially abolished under the 1994 Constitution (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Panama-Colombia: organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama

Panama-Costa Rica: none identified

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 80,021 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum or have received alternative legal stay) (2021)

Illicit drugs

a prime sea and land passage for drugs, primarily cocaine from Colombia, from South America to North America and Europe; traffickers ship drugs in containers passing through the Panama Canal to  North America and Europe