Interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
Population: 3,608,431 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: Spanish (official), English 14%; Note: Many Panamanians are bilingual
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for more than three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is estimated to be completed by 2015 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 10-15% of current GDP.
The basic peasant dwelling in Panama is the rancho or quincha. It is a hut supported by poles, with walls of palm fronds, cane, clay, or boards. The thatched roof is of palm fronds or grass. Neighbors gather to help build these houses. Houses in town are often of cement block, with a tile roof. The urban poor usually live in overcrowded, decaying two-story frame houses with tin roofs. Migrants from rural areas often settle in squatter communities.
US Military Presence/Support