Fast Facts

Panama City; 930,000
75,517 square kilometers (29,157 square miles)
Spanish, English
Roman Catholic, Protestant
Balboa, US dollar
Life Expectancy:
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $6,200
Literacy Percent:
Flag: Panama
Map: Panama

Panama is a narrow land bridge connecting North and South America. The Panama Canal, built by the United States after Panama's independence from Colombia in 1903, joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In 1989 U.S. troops overthrew Gen. Manuel Noriega, following his indictment for complicity in drug trafficking. Panama's first woman president, Mireya Moscoso, was elected in 1999—the same year that her country assumed full control of the Panama Canal.


  • Industry: Food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles
  • Agriculture: Coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton; beef, veal
  • Exports: Coffee, shrimp and lobster, cotton, tobacco, bananas

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

Related Features

  • Photo: Native women painting body art

    Best of the World 2012

    It's time to start planning your adventures for 2012. Here are Traveler magazine's 20 best places in the world to visit, including Panama.

  • Photo: Ornaments excavated from the site include a human-headed pendant about five inches tall.

    The Golden Chiefs of Panama

    The excavation of a cemetery more than a thousand years old has uncovered tombs of powerful warriors adorned in gold. It's one of the richest discoveries in the Americas in decades.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

2015 Traveler Photo Contest

  • Picture of a tree under night stars in Deadvlei, Namibia

    See the Winners

    Explore the top photos, share your favorites, and browse all entries.