officially Republic of Panama, Spanish Repblica de Panam country of Central America located on the Isthmus of Panama, the stretch of land that connects North and South America. It extends 29,157 square miles (75,517 square km)larger than Irelandof which 447 square miles (1,158 square km) are divided among 14 of its larger islands. The Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, reinforces the nation's standing as one of the most strategic transportation hubs in the world. Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. It has an elongated S shape, with its Caribbean coastline stretching some 800 miles (1,290 km) and the Pacific coast some 1,060 miles (1,700 km); however, a line drawn from the Costa Rican frontier in the west to the Colombian border in the east would extend only 480 miles (770 km). The shortest distance across the isthmus is 31 miles (50 km), from the mouth of the Nergal (Necategua) River, which flows into the Gulf of San Blas on the Caribbean shore, to the mouth of the Chepo River on the Pacific coast. Panama City, the capital, is situated on the Pacific coast just east of the Panama Canal. Panama has long been a centre for commerce, cultural exchange, and military operations. From the 1530s it was the point of departure for the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, and until the 19th century it was a transshipment point for gold and silver destined for Spain. The opening of the canal in the early 20th century secured Panama's ongoing role in international affairs and world commerce. The United States relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999, marking an unprecedented shift in Panamanian society. For the first time in nearly a century as an independent nation, Panama controlled the entirety of its national territory. Additional reading Geography Sandra W. Meditz and Dennis M. Hanratty (eds.), Panama: A Country Study, 4th ed. (1989), comments on all aspects of the country. Tom Barry et al., Inside Panama (1995), gives more up-to-date information. Physical geography is covered by Robert A. Terry, A Geological Reconnaissance of Panama (1956). Instituto Geogrfico Nacional Tommy Guardia, Atlas nacional de la Repblica de Panam, 3rd ed. (1988), graphically presents information on the geography, resources, economy, social conditions, and administrative and political divisions. Brief overviews and thorough statistics are provided in Direccin de Estadstica y Censo, Panam en cifras: aos 19931997 (1998), a publication of the Panamanian government. Stanley Heckadon-Moreno, Naturalistas del Istmo de Panam (1998), traces the development of scientific studies of Panama's wildlife and vegetation. William C. Merrill et al., Panama's Economic Development (1975), presents the role of agriculture in the country's economy. Burton L. Gordon, A Panama Forest and Shore: Natural History and the Amerindian Culture in Bocas del Toro (1982), is a useful examination of the Bocas del Toro area. James Howe, A People Who Would Not Kneel (1998), is the best study of the modern Kuna. Ronald R. Smith, Panama, in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 2 (1998), pp. 770785, surveys isthmian music within the cultural context. History Christopher Ward, Imperial Panama (1993), chronicles Panama's history until 1800. David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas (1977), is the classic study of the building of the Panama Canal. John Major, Prize Possession (1993), covers U.S. administration of the Canal Zone and U.S. relations with Panama. The fall 1993 issue of the Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs examines the future of the canal and related issues. Mark Falcoff, Panama's Canal (1998), covers contemporary politics and relations with the United States. Margaret E. Scranton, The Noriega Years (1991), is the most reliable account of that period. Thomas L. Pearcy, We Answer Only to God (1998), reflects on Panama's military and political history. Richard L. Millett Administration and social conditions Government Panama has a popularly elected, representative system of government with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Universal suffrage was instituted in 1907, and Panamanians 18 years of age and older are eligible to vote. After a coup by the National Guard in 1968, the national legislature was suspended, and Panama was administered by a provisional government led by General Omar Torrijos. A new constitution in 1972, the fourth in Panama's history, gave Torrijos virtually complete control over the government but also established an elected body, the National Assembly of Municipal Representatives. The constitution was amended in 1978 to provide for a gradual return to democratic government within six years. Further constitutional amendments were approved in 1983, but democracy did not return to Panama until 1990, following the removal of Torrijos's successor, General Manuel Antonio Noriega Morena. Under the constitutional revision of 1983, executive power is exercised by a president and two vice presidents, each of whom is popularly elected for a nonrenewable five-year term. The president appoints a cabinet. A unicameral Legislative Assembly consists of 72 members, who are elected for five-year terms and are eligible for reelection. The assembly initiates legislation, rules on international treaties, approves the budget, and establishes political divisions. Judicial power rests with a Supreme Court, the nine members of which are appointed for 10-year terms by the president with the approval of the Legislative Assembly. The Supreme Court is composed of separate divisions for civil, penal, and administrative cases. The justice system also includes several types of lower courts. Administrative divisions The country is divided into nine provincias and four comarcas indgenas (indigenous sectors)Kuna Yala (San Blas), Ember (Ember-Wounaan), Madungand (Madugand), and Ngobe Bugl (Guaym). The provincias are divided into distritos municipales (municipal districts), which are subdivided into corregimientos (magistracies). The head of each provincia is the governor, appointed by the president. The comarcas are semiautonomous reserves governed by tribal leaders (caciques), but their status under the law has been disputed. In the late 1990s indigenous protestors in some comarcas clashed with the national police while opposing the expansion of industrial sites and roads on the reserves. In addition, some Kuna have attempted to control tourism in the San Blas islands.
Meaning of PANAMA in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012