Panama Facts at a Glance


Climate Tropical
Rainy season From May to January it rains in most parts of Panama almost every day, for about an hour.
Dry season There is almost no rain from January to May.
Size 29,208 sq. miles, about the size of South Carolina
Capitol City Panama City, with a population of 900,000 people.
Other Major Cities Colón with a population of 200,000 and David with a population of 145,000.
Terrain and Topography Panama has two main mountain ranges that runs across the eastern and western parts the country and form a great part of its topography, such as its cloud forests as well as its highest point, the Volcan Barú, at 11,500 feet tall. Panama also has 2900 Km of coastline, 300 rivers that mostly go into the pacific, as well as 1600 islands.


Population 3.5 million
Language Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken by many professionals. There are also many indigenous dialects, as well as the carribean hybrid known as Guari Guari in the Bocas del Toro region.
Religion 85% Catholic, 15% Protestant
Ethnic groups 70% Mestizo, 10% African descent, 10% Caucasian, 10% Amerindian
Annual Population Growth Rate 1.5 %


Government Type Presidential Representative Democratic Republic
Branches of Government Executive Branche consisting of President and Vice-President, Legislative Branch consisting of an Assembly of 71 members, and the Judicial Branch consisting of the Supreme Court.
Main Political Parties Cambio Democrático (currently the ruling party with a majority in the national assembly), the Panameñistas (also known as Arnulfisas), and the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democrático).
Presidential Elections Take place every 5 years, last ones in May 3 of 2009 with Cambio Democrático in alliance with the Panameñistas taking 59.9% of the vote (CD’s alliance with Panameñistas broke down in 2011) to the PRD’s 37%.
Suffrage and Legal Drinking Age Both are at 18 years of age.


Currency Officially Panama’s currency is the Balboa, but it is pegged at the value of the U.S. dollar— the de facto currency used in Panama. Panama has no paper money of its own, only coins which are the same size and value as American coins, but have different designs. This means if you are coming from the U.S. there is no need to change currencies!
Economic Sectors 75% services, 11% industry, 8% agriculture, 6% other.
Annualized GDP Growth Rate 7.5% in 2010 and 10.5% in 2011.
Inflation rate 5.5%
Unemployment rate 4%
Key domestic industries Financial services, Colón Free Trade Zone operations, Tourism,
Transshipment-related (Canal, Ports, logistical center activities)
construction, insurance, and manufacturing
Major trade partners U.S., Sweden, Spain, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Netherlands Antilles, Japan, Mexico, Colombia
Major Exports Beef, salmon/tuna gold, copper, timber, bananas, shrimp, sugar, pineapples, watermelons

National Holidays

Carnival Begins the Saturday before Ash Wednesday (many people start on Friday) and ends the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (February 9th-February 13th 2013).
Martyr’s Day January 9th
Good Friday Panama is mostly Catholic so this is a national holiday.
Labor Day May 1st
Separation Day from Colombia November 3rd
Flag Day November 4th
Colón Day November 5th
The Villa de los Santos Uprising against Spain November 10th
Independence from Spain November 28th
Mother’s Day December 8th


Newspapers Las Prensa, Panamá America, La Estrella, The Visitor
Online Publications Newsroom Panama, Panama Guide, The Panama News, The Panama Report
Local Television Telemetro on channel 12 , Televisora Nacional on channel 2 (TVN), RPC on channel 4, FETV (educational non profit) on channel 5, on channel 21, SER TV (educational programs from the University of Panama) on channel 11, +23 Panama’s Music Video Network on channel 23, and TV MAX Panama’s Sports Network on channel 9.
Radio Stations: For musive there is Ultra Stereo 98.9, Radio Mix 97.9, WAO 97.5, Rockn’Pop 106.7, Super Q 90.5, Power 92.1, Tropi Q 99.7, and OMEGA Stereo 107.3. For news in Spanish try Radio Panamá 94.5 and Radio Metropolis 93.5


Water Conditions Panama has good water quality, feel free to drink from the tap in most places. However do not drink tap water in the more isolated regions, such as Bocas del Toro and the Darién Province.
Electrical Voltage Used Panama uses the same voltage as the U.S. and Canada (110V).
Emergency Phone Number Panama’s emergency phone number is 911.
Credit Cards and ATM’s Most credit cards are widely accepted in Panama, and ATM’s are available in many parts of Panama city. Destinations outside of Panama City however, like Bocas del Toro and Pedasí, are a lot less likely to have these facilities, so bring cash.

See also, The History of Panama.