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.
San Blas Islands;
Panamanian coral reefs
Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
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.)
It is considered polite to refer to people by business titles, rather than their surname, when in a professional context.
Sancocho de Gallina (Chicken Stew) - chicken, corn, and root vegetables such as ñame, yuca, and otoe, flavored with culantro (an herb similar to cilantro); typically served with a side of white rice
Upper middle-income Central American economy; increasing Chinese trade; US dollar user; canal expansion fueling broader infrastructure investment; services sector dominates economy; historic money-laundering and illegal drug hub