Panama Economy and Culture

By | November 25, 2021

Republic of Panama. Located in the center of the Western Hemisphere, between the following coordinates: 7º12’07 “and 9º38’46” of North Latitude and 77º09’24 “and 83º03’07” of West Longitude. It limits to the North with the Caribbean Sea, to the East with the Republic of Colombia, to the South with the Pacific Ocean and to the West with the Republic of Costa Rica.

According to, Panama forms a link between Central America and South America, constituting an isthmus 80 km wide in its narrowest section.


According to World Bank data, Panama has the highest GDP per capita in the Central American region, at 12,503 PPP dollars, and is the third largest economy in Central America after Guatemala and Costa Rica.

The neoliberal economic model was imposed during the 1990s with a fully dollarized economy and no central bank. Panama’s economic policy is based on the tertiary sector, being one of the earliest countries to use this policy. This sector represents 75% of its gross domestic product, however there has been a significant increase in the industrial and construction sector. Its official currency is the Balboa, which is equivalent to the US dollar that has legally circulated throughout its territory since 1904.

During 2009 Panama exported $ 16,209 million, according to ECLAC, which makes it the main exporter in Central America and the tenth in Latin America.


Panama is a country with extensive oil deposits. The first investigations into the identification of the resource began from 1917 to 1981, as recorded in the archives of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. Throughout this period, the Panamanian government allowed several foreign companies to drill wells in different parts of the country, many of which gave positive results. These sites were Cañazas in the province of Panama, Garachiné, Capetí and El Rancho in Darién.

Between the border area of Boca del Toro and Costa Rica, the well drilled in Tico-Cocoles produced oil for three days at an average rate of 1,400 barrels of oil per day. The latest well discoveries occurred in the Gulf of San Miguel in the communities of Cémaco, Bayano and Anayansi in explorations carried out between 1987 and 1989. In the entire Panamanian surface, in recent years, a total of 36 wells have been detected.


Panama has always been a meeting point between cultures, earning us the nickname “melting pot”. With almost 3 million residents, its population is made up of 67% mestizos (Amerindians with whites) and mulattos (whites with blacks), 14% black, 10% white; 6% of Amerindians (indigenous) and 3% of people of mixed ethnic origins. This mix is ​​particularly rich because of the cultural foundations and traditions that they laid, in a way that both Panamanians and visitors respect them alike.

Being a country that respects free creed, the population of our country is made up of a Roman Catholic majority of 85%, so dates such as Christmas and carnivals, a colorful and hectic four-day holiday preceding Lent, are widely celebrated in Panama. Evangelical Christians follow with 10%. The remaining 5% is divided between Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Orthodoxy and groups derived from Protestant Christianity such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists.

The seven indigenous groups of Panama are settled in semi-autonomous territories. The most representative of the western region are the Ngöbe and the Buglé, Naso-Teribe and the Bri-bri, in the provinces of Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro. Together they comprise 70% of the country’s indigenous population.

In the eastern region of Panama it is populated by the Emberá and the Wounaan in the Darien, and the Kunas in the Kuna Yala region. The Emberá and Wounaan live in the rainforest, just as their ancestors did for centuries. His understanding and respect for nature is innate, and his skills in basket-carving and weaving are exquisite. The Kuna settled on the coasts and islands of the Caribbean and are characterized by an iron protection of their traditions and by their molas, which are handicrafts made with applied on cloth.

The descendants of Africans settled in the central region of Panama and in Darien, where the cadence of the Bullerengue and the Bunde still evoke the origins of their traditions. Originally, they were brought to the isthmus by Spanish settlers to work on the sugar cane plantations.

A second wave of black immigration came to the isthmus from the Antilles for the construction of the Panama Canal, at the beginning of the 20th century. This English-speaking group settled in Panama City, Colón, and Boca Del Toro. Mestizos and mulattos are the result of years of marriages between different races and ethnicities scattered throughout Panama, its folklore is expressed through music and dance, local food such as chicken rice and sancocho of hen, its festive attitude, the one that shines in fairs and festivals, as well as its characteristic friendly treatment towards foreigners.

Panama has always been and will always be a meeting point for diverse ethnicities and races, nowadays accessible from anywhere in the world for all travelers, always making them feel at home, always remembering their traditions and their constant desire to evolve as a culture.

Panama Economy and Culture