The Panamanian race has long been a hub for transport and trade, which has resulted in a population of mixed descent. The majority of the population live along the canal and in the area around the capital Panama City.
Many Panamans also live on the western Pacific coast, while the third of the country east of the channel is very sparsely populated.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Panama, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Most Panamans have mixed origins from mainly Europeans and indigenous peoples. Many have also mixed European and African heresy. A large minority consists of English-speaking blacks. The group are descendants of African slaves or West Indian workers who were recruited when the railways were built in the 19th century and when the canal was excavated in 1904-1914. There is also a larger group of whites, mainly of Spanish origin.
The indigenous population is estimated to be up to one tenth of the residents. Of the 60 ethnic groups that existed when the Spaniards first came to the area in the 16th century, only eight survived. The largest are Guaymí (also called Ngöbe or Ngäbe, or often Ngöbe-Buglé, which actually includes another people group), who live in inaccessible areas in the West, and Kuna, who live on the San Blas islands in the Caribbean and on the coast.
In addition, there are smaller groups of, for example, East Asians, Europeans, North Americans and Lebanese.
The upper class of the country consists mostly of white Panamans. The growing middle class is mostly made up of people of mixed origin, while indigenous peoples and blacks are overrepresented among the poor.
The official language is Spanish, but about one in seven Panamans speak English as a first language and many are bilingual. Some of the indigenous languages also live.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
majority of mixed origin, major minorities of blacks, whites, Indians and Asians
Number of residents
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
67.4 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
19.5 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
5.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
1.6 percent (2017)
2.5 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
49.9 percent (2017)
78 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
81 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
75 years (2016)
Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken, some Native American languages are also spoken
Panama leaves regional parliament
The National Assembly decides that Panama should leave the Central American Parliament Parlacén (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).
Noriega is extradited to Panama
Former dictator Manuel Noriega is extradited to Panama from France, where he was brought from the United States (see April 2010). Noriega, in his absence, was sentenced to three 20-year prison sentences in his home country, for murdering political opponents during his time in power in the 1980s (see Modern History).
Government cooperation is bursting
Martinelli kicks Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela, thereby setting the point for the electoral cooperation that brought him to power (see also January and July 2011). Other ministers who, like Varela, belong to the Panamist Party resign in protest and the president’s party CD loses much of its support in the National Assembly. But since several of the Panamist Party members changed sides, the CD still manages to secure a majority in Parliament, with 36 of the 71 seats.
Increased tensions within the government
A fierce conflict within the government is intensified (see January 2011). The Panamist Party believes that the CD has failed to reach an agreement that the two parties should alternate on the Presidential and Presidential posts.
Free Trade Agreement with USA
The National Assembly ratifies the free trade agreement with the United States signed in 2007.
Minister accused of drug trafficking
A serious scandal shakes the government when one of the president’s closest associates, Tourism Minister Salomón Shamah, is singled out as involved in international drug trafficking. It is a former US ambassador who has singled out Shamah, in a diplomatic report published by the Wikileaks site. Martinelli announces that Shamah will be replaced.
The ex-president is freed
A court acquits former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares of charges of money laundering (see September 2009 and January 2010).
A small lot is included in the CD
The Patriotic Union, one of the parties included in Martinelli’s Alliance, is in his party Democratic Change (CD).
Disputed mining law is eliminated
President Martinelli is forced to pull back legislation that the government recently drummed through, which would facilitate foreign investors in the mining sector. The resistance has been great especially in Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro, where large copper reserves exist (see Natural Resources and Energy). Environmental groups have protested as well as indigenous people who fear that their land will be destroyed.
Disputes on re-election rules
A committee in the National Assembly rejects a proposal to amend the constitution so that a president can be re-elected directly. Martinelli has already announced that he wants to allow re-election after one, instead of two, terms of office (see Political system). Disagreement over the constitutional proposal creates contradictions between Martinelli and the Panamist Party, the largest support party in the government coalition.