Panama. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Panama. The May presidential election was won by Mireya Moscoso of PA (Partido Arnulfista) with 45% of the vote. However, the opposition gained a majority in Congress. Voter turnout was high, 77%, the highest ever in Panama. Moscoso, widow of Arnulfo Arias, the party’s founder and Panama’s former president (1949-51, 1968), becomes the country’s first female president.
- Also see Abbreviationfinder.org to see the acronym of PAN which stands for Panama and other definitions of this 3-letter abbreviation.
On 31 December, in accordance with the so-called Carter-Torrijos agreement of 1977, the channel zone was finally transferred to Panama. It has been under the United States administration for a century.
The commander of the United States Southern Command, General Charles Wilhelm, created a riot in June when he said that the United States has operational plans for an intervention in Panama if the channel was threatened militarily, as a result of the civil war in Colombia. Recurrent border incidents and guerrilla and paramilitary incursions have also occurred in the southern border province of Darién, most recently in November 1999. The opposition accuses Moscoso of concluding a secret security agreement with the United States to establish a Joint Special Forces (Unidad 501) – something that in reality would mean that the US military presence in the country was stealthily extended.
Communications. – The Panamanian merchant navy (as it is essentially known as a “convenience” navy) places the country in fourth place in the world, after the USA, Great Britain and Norway (see navy: merchant navy, in this App.). Taking into account only ships with 100 tonnes and over, the merchant fleet of Panama was formed in 1954 of 595 ships for a total tonnage of 4,091,000 tonnes, of which 2,312,000 tonnes related to oil tankers; in 1955 there were 826 ships for 4,745,000 tonnes (of which 2,134,000 were oil tankers); in 1956 the ships had risen to 849 for 4,835,155 t; while in 1957 the number of ships had dropped to 580, with a tonnage of 4,128,000 tons.
The railway network in 1957 was 510 km long, 360 of which were industrial lines. In recent years the road network has greatly increased; in fact, it was only 1,800 km in 1950, 2,300 in 1953 and 2,337 in 1957. At the same time, road traffic increased from 13,900 vehicles in 1953 (not including the cars of residents in the Canal Zone) , to 19,000 in 1955 and to 22,500 in 1956. The practicability of the roads themselves has also improved; while in 1956 only 1,830 km were permanently passable, in 1957 it was 2,237 km. A road works plan is currently underway that will allow the opening of twenty new sections to be inserted into the Panamerican Highway. In 1940 the Tocumén airport was inaugurated, 24 km from the capital.
Foreign trade. – Foreign trade is still largely passive. In the five-year period 1953-57, imports had an average value of 77 million balboas, while exports of about 18 million. In addition to bananas, which, as we have already seen, covered over half the value of exports in 1957, shellfish, cocoa and precious woods are exported. 90% of exports are absorbed by the United States, from which the majority of imports also come to the Republic of Panama.
Finances. – Private banking is mainly carried out by three branches of American banks, in the presence of only one local private institution. The public sector of the banking system includes, besides the central bank, several special credit institutions and a savings bank (Caja de Ahorras). Banks are allowed to operate in the medium and long term and most of the outstanding loans are backed by collateral. The official exchange rate of the balboa is at par with the US dollar.