Country of the World Panama

About the country Panama, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULERS

PANAMA

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: A land bridge between Central and South America, Panama is a long, narrow country oriented roughly west to east and situated between Costa Rica and Colombia. Tropical lowlands along its two coasts are separated by a range of mountains. The country itself is divided completely in two by the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Zone.

Size: 29,208 sq. mi. (75,650 sq. km.), exclusive of the Canal Zone.

Population: One of the least populous countries in Central America, Panama has only about 1.8 million inhabitants. Languages: Spanish is predominant, but English is also widely spoken.

Who Rules: Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, head of the National Guard (Panama has no army), took control of the government in a 1968 coup.

Who REALLY Rules: Since Panama's existence as a separate nation was engineered by the U.S. in the first place, it is not surprising that the U.S. is the dominant force and influence in Panama today. American corporations, including United Fruit Company (a subsidiary of United Brands) and Panamanian Refining and Petrochemical Company, are the most influential institutions in the country. Another major power in Panamanian Affairs is the Panama Canal Company, whose sole stockholder is the U.S. secretary of the army. The company spends $48 million in Panama each year and reaps an average annual profit of $19 million. Panamanian and U.S. currency are equal in value and also look alike; the coins are interchangeable in vending machines.

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