Panama encompasses approximately 75,417 km2 (29,119 sq mi). Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Panama was part of the Spanish Empire for over 300 years (1513–1821) and its fate changed with its geopolitical importance to the Spanish crown. Panama's special geography and history make its people the most cosmopolitan in the region. The country’s highest peak is an inactive volcano, Barú (Chiriquí), which reaches an elevation of 11,401 feet (3,475 metres). The over 350 San Blas Islands, near Colombia, are strung out for more than 160 km (99 mi) along the sheltered Caribbean coastline. The principal islands are those of the Archipiélago de las Perlas in the middle of the Gulf of Panama, the penal colony on the Isla de Coiba in the Golfo de Chiriquí, and the decorative island of Taboga, a tourist attraction that can be seen from Panama City. 148 km3 (2011), Natural hazards: Learn about the history and culture of Panama, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Water in the Panama Canal does not flow from coast to coast; rather, it is released from the rain-fed Gatún and Alajuela (Madden) lakes in the central highlands. Coiba is the largest island in Central America, off of Panama´s Pacific Coast at 503 square kilometers. Location and Geography. The Pacific coastline is extended by the Azuero Peninsula and the Gulf of Panama and by numerous headlands and bays, whereas the largest embayment on the Caribbean side is Chiriquí Lagoon. Tree cover has been reduced by more than 50 percent since the 1940s. Mostly unnavigable, many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas. One of the longest is the Río Tuira which flows into the Golfo de San Miguel and is the nation's only river navigable by larger vessels. Panama has 1,550 miles (2,490 km) of coastline. exclusive economic zone: Research Professor of History, University of Texas at Arlington. The canal also secures Panama’s ongoing role in international affairs and world commerce. In many places, a multi-canopied rain forest abuts the swamp on one side of Panama and increases to the lower reaches of slopes in the other. occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area, earthquakes, Environment - current issues: tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May), Terrain: Paralleling the principal mountain chains, a lower mountain arc extends along Panama’s southern coast. The Panama isthmus was first explored by Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas in the year 1501. History of the Panama Canal . Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km, Maritime claims: This page has been viewed 646 times (0 via redirect) 0 watching users; Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike unless otherwise noted. Nearly 40 percent of Panama is wooded. failed wretchedly. Panama is divided into 10 provinces, plus several indigenous comarcas. Panama City enjoys unique geographical location between the Pacific Ocean and tropical rain forest. The United States relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999, marking an unprecedented shift in Panamanian society. This Central American country is bordered by Costa Rica and Colombia, and is situated between the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. People. The Panama Canal Zone was in effect, a part of the US inside Panama. In 1821, when Central America revolted against Spain, Panama joined Colombia, which had already declared its independence. Geography. copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower, Land use: As a consequence, the tidal range is extreme. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. The highest point in Panama is the Volcán Barú (formerly known as the Volcán de Chiriquí), which rises to 3,475 meters (11,401 ft). Panama was subordinated to the viceroyalty of Peru and remained in this status until 1717, when it was transferred to New Granada. 74,340 km2 This page has been viewed 552 times (0 via redirect) 0 watching users; Content is available under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike unless otherwise noted. Between 1850 and 1900 Panama had 40 administrations, 50 riots, 5 attempted secessions, and 13 U.S. interventions. strategic location at eastern end of Central America; controls Panama Canal that links Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with Pacific Ocean. The lowlands include the plains of Panamá and Chiriquí provinces, the plains and hills of Colón province, the Chepo and Chucunaque river basins in the east, and the narrow northeastern plains of the Caribbean region. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. It offers a view of both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.. water: The country is a natural land bridge connecting the South American continent with Central America. This page was last edited on 18 April 2020, at 20:42. Panama's history has been shaped by the evolution of the world economy and the ambitions of great powers. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Panama. 335,646 km2 (129,594 sq mi) and 200 nautical miles (370 km) or edge of continental margin, Climate: Geography Panama Homepage The Panama Homepage has provided a variety of information with regards to Panama's position in the world. total: Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. The home of several Native American peoples, such as the Guaymí, Kuna, and Chocó, Panama became the first Spanish colony on the Pacific. 90.33% (2011), Total renewable water resources: Celebrated as “the door to the seas and key to the universe,” it served in the 1530s as the staging point for the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, and until the 19th century it was a transshipment point for gold and silver destined for Spain. A year later, Christopher Columbus arrived and established the city of Darien. A central spine of mountain ranges extends almost the entire length of Panama, dividing the country into Atlantic- and Pacific-facing slopes. Panama » City Info » Geography. The cycle of rainfall is determined primarily by two factors: moisture from the Caribbean, which is transported by north and northeast winds prevailing during most of the year, and the continental divide, which acts as a rain shield for the Pacific lowlands. The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty allowed the U.S. to build the Panama Canal and provided for perpetual control of a zone five miles wide on either side of the canal. Geography. Military. Panama is a narrow, s-shaped isthmus located between Colombia and Costa Rica, bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. Nearly 500 rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. This depression (the Panama Canal site) divides the country again—roughly into western and eastern halves. 24 nautical miles (44 km) This S-shaped isthmus is situated between 7° and 10° north latitude and 77° and 83° west longitude. Forests dominate, interrupted in places by grasslands, scrub, and crops. 12 nautical miles (22 km) Mangrove swamps occur along parts of both coasts, with banana plantations occupying deltas near Costa Rica. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. GEOGRAPHY. Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. These Pacific-oriented rivers are longer and slower running than those of the Caribbean side. Geography has played an enormous role in shaping the history of Panama. land: The Pacific coastline is more indented and irregular, and its continental shelf is much wider than that on the Atlantic side. Central Panama has the unusual distinction of having the sun rise over the Pacific and set over the Atlantic. ; About FamilySearch Wiki It has an elongated S shape, with its Caribbean coastline stretching some 800 miles (1,290 km) and the Pacific coast some 1,060 miles (1,700 km); however, a line drawn from the Costa Rican frontier in the west to the Colombian border in the east would extend only 480 miles (770 km). The population was increased by Jewish immigrants from the West Indies (notably from Curaçao) in the mid-19th century. This S-shaped part of the isthmus is situated between 7° and 10° north latitude and 77° and 83° west longitude. Diurnal ranges are low; on a typical dry-season day in the capital city, the early morning minimum may be 24 °C (75.2 °F) and the afternoon maximum 29 °C (84.2 °F). Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama. Panama's tropical environment supports an abundance of plants. 7.16% It is 772 km (480 mi) long, and between 60 and 177 kilometers (37 and 110 mi) wide. The social beliefs and customs practiced in Panama are drawn from ethnic communities native to the country and those who came from different parts of the world. Northern of South America, the Caribbean and sometimes Central America, Area: The apex of a highland that includes Panama's richest soil, the Volcán Barú is still referred to as a volcano, although it has been inactive for millennia. With the independence of Colombia, which once controlled Panama, from Spain, Panama came to serve as another staging point, this time for oceangoing migrants to the gold fields of California. party to: The building of the Panama Canal is considered one of the great engineering feats of history. It borders Colombia to the east, Costa Rica to the west, and the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean to the north and south. 1,080 km2, Land boundaries: The divide does not form part of the great mountain chains of North America, and only near the Colombian border are there highlands related to the Andean system of South America. Nearly 40 percent of all Panamanians have ancestors who were neither Spanish nor Indian, but who had came to the isthmus over the last 110 years to build or traverse the canal. This page was last edited on 18 April 2020, at 21:42. Panama is a country located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. After a U.S. proposal for ca… Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama. Tourism. The temperature seldom exceeds 32 °C (89.6 °F) for more than a short time. The area that became Panama was part of Colombia until the Panamanians revolted, with U.S. support, in 1903. Under this system small plots are cleared, cropped for a few years, then abandoned until their natural fertility is restored—a practice called roza in Panama. Rodrigo de Bastidas, sailing westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, was the first European to explore the Isthmus of Panama. In all, there are some 1,000 islands off the Pacific coast. In the 16th and 17th centuries, at the height of the Empire, no other region would prove of more strategic and economic importance. The two principal ranges, the Tabasará Mountains (Cordillera Central) in the west and the Cordillera de San Blas in the east, are separated near the centre of the country by a saddle of lower land. It appears only in well-separated segments—for example, on Azuero Peninsula as the Canajagua Massif and in eastern Panama as the Sierra de Jungurudó, Sapo Mountains, and the Majé Mountains. The new Panamanian government authorized French businessman Philippe Bunau-Varilla, to negotiate a treaty with the United States. The highlands and mountains are made up primarily of igneous (volcanic) rocks. Panama is located in Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. arable land: Panama, the capital city of the Republic of Panama is positioned between the Pacific Ocean and the tropical rainforest, whereas the country, Panama is the southernmost country of Central America. The numerous islands of the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro, near the Beaches of Costa Rica, provide an extensive natural roadstead and shield the banana port of Almirante. This wind brings some precipitation to the Pacific lowlands, modified by the highlands of the Península de Azuero, which form a partial rainshield for much of central Panama. Temperatures on the Pacific side of the isthmus are somewhat lower than on the Caribbean, and breezes tend to rise after dusk in most parts of the country. Geographic coordinates: 9°00′N 80°00′W / 9.000°N 80.000°W / 9.000; -80.000, Map references: The commercial banana plantations around Puerto Armuelles and in western Bocas del Toro province are mainly on alluvial soils. Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama. and primarily used the country as a way to get between North and South America. Panama is located in Central America between Costa Rica to the West and Colombia to the South; Panama is at the southern end of a Central American Ithsmas and forms the land bridge between North and Southern America; Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina. The provinces are divided into districts, which in turn are subdivided into sections called corregimientos. The Río Chepo and the Río Chagres are sources of hydroelectric power. A third influence that is present during the late autumn is the southwest wind off the Pacific. ; About FamilySearch Wiki Deforestation is a continuing threat to the rain-drenched woodlands. The major port on the Pacific coastline is Balboa. In some areas, exceptionally fertile soils have developed from volcanic ash. Rivers flowing to the Pacific include the Chiriquí Viejo, Santa María, Chepo, Chucunaque, and Tuira. contiguous zone: Updates? interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills, Southernmost point: Punta Mariato, Cerro Hoya National Park, Veraguas, Westernmost point: Border with Costa Rica, Chiriquí Province, Easternmost point: Border with Colombia, Darién ProvinceLowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 mHighest point: Volcan de Chiriqui 3,475 m, Natural resources: There are over 1000 islands off the Pacific Coast, 378 islands and cays in the San Blas Archipelago, and another 250+ islands, cays and islets in the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro. The Pacific coastal waters are extraordinarily shallow. There is also a museum of contemporary art in Panama City which houses many modern paintings and sculptures that blend native influence with European and North American styles. Since 1914 the 51-mile- (82-km-) long Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has afforded a long-sought shortcut for shipping and assures the country’s standing as one of the most strategic transportation hubs of the world. The spine that forms the divide is the highly eroded arch of an uplift from the sea bottom, in which peaks were formed by volcanic intrusions. The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. Panama, country of Central America located on the Isthmus of Panama, the narrow bridge of land that connects North and South America. The country forms the land bridge between the North and South American continents. History. Areas of alluvial soils (which develop from clay, silt, sand, and gravel deposited by streams) are especially fertile but are limited to the lower parts of river valleys. signed, but not ratified: During the rainy season the Tuira is navigable for some 40 miles (60 km) and the Chepo for 20 miles (30 km). Government. 555 km Brief History of Panama: Panama was originally inhabited by the Native American tribes of the Cocle and Cuevas peoples. Panama forms the land link between the North and South American continents. Panama is located on the narrowest and lowest part of the Isthmus of Panama that links North America and South America. Language. While the country is embracing modernism and foreign social beliefs most of which are practiced in the major cities, the traditional customs and beliefs are still observed particularly in the rural regions of Panama. The first European to visit Panama was Rodrigo de Bastida in 1501. Their basins are also more extensive. Some of the soils along the inland edges of coastal mangrove swamps have also proved productive. Attempts at Scottish settlement in the Darién Scheme of the 17th cent. Learn how and when to remove this template message, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Geography_of_Panama&oldid=993468570, Articles needing additional references from November 2017, All articles needing additional references, Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the Library of Congress Country Studies, Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the World Factbook, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 10 December 2020, at 19:44. History. territorial sea: Panama has a tropical climate. The annual average in Panama City is little more than half of that in Colón. Subsistence farming, widely practiced from the northeastern jungles to the southwestern grasslands, consists largely of corn, bean, and tuber plots. Transportation . This official website of the Embassy of Panama in the U.S. provides general country information including history, culture, political structure, economy and tourism. The Caribbean coastline is marked by several good natural harbors. Enjoy a snapshot where water is as important as land, unemployment is less than 5% and legal tender is the U.S. dollar: quick Panama facts. other: Rainfall is generally much heavier on the Caribbean than on the Pacific side. Panama's culture is the result of its geographical location and history. Climate: The climate is mostly hot and dry, desert-like. Panama Vacations Experts Since 1999 1 … Of Panama’s many short rivers, those that flow to the Caribbean include the Sixaola, Changuinola, Indio, Cricamola, La Miel, and Chagres. permanent crops: Panama had been a Spanish colony since the early 1500s and then The shortest distance across the isthmus is about 30 miles (50 km), from the mouth of the Nergalá (Necategua) River, which flows into the Gulf of San Blas on the Caribbean shore, to the mouth of the Chepo River on the Pacific coast. Construction began in 1904 under the Army Corps of Engineers led by George W. Goethals. Temperatures are uniformly high—as is the relative humidity—and there is little seasonal variation. Geography - note: For the next 82 years, Panama attempted unsuccessfully to break away from Colombia. It has an elongated S shape, with its Caribbean coastline stretching some 800 miles (1,290 km) and the Pacific coast some 1,060 miles (1,700 km); however, a line drawn from the Costa Rican frontier in the west to the Colombian border in the east would extend only 480 miles (770 … The terrain of Panama is interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills. A cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers tower above whitewashed bungalows, it enjoys a handsome setting and a growing importance as a commercial and financial services centre for the region. In 1821, Panama declared independence from Spain and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, which became the Republic of New Grenada in 1831. Its capital, Panama City, is located on the Pacific coast just east of the canal. Several sites along the Azuero Peninsula, including Monagrillo, have yielded a large amount of ceramic pottery that is thought t… Depths of 180 metres (591 ft) are reached only outside the perimeters of both the Gulf of Panama and the Golfo de Chiriquí, and wide mud flats extend up to 70 km (43 mi) seaward from the coastlines. Nearly as narrow is the portion of the isthmus traversed by the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal makes the small Central American nation unique among its neighbors. As a whole, the range between Costa Rica and the canal is generally referred to by Panamanian geographers as the Cordillera Central. 2.51% The Kampia lake and Madden Lake (also filled with water from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity for the area of the former Canal Zone. It stretched alongside the length of the canal for five miles either side, only excluding Panama City and Colon on each entrance. They vary in fertility, and in many areas crops can be grown continuously only if fertilizers are applied. The dominant feature of Panama's landform is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. Arrowheads found near Lago Alajuela (Madden Lake) in the Panama Canal point to human habitation around 9,000 B.C., and there are traces of agriculture along Panama’s central Pacific coast that date back to 5,000 B.C. In addition, most of the republic’s more than 1,600 islands lie off its Pacific coast; they include the Perlas Archipelago (Pearl Islands) and the islands of Taboga, Cébaco, Parida, Jicarón, and Coiba, the largest. Author of. Summary. According to archaeologists, humans lived in Panama as early as 12,000 B.C. For the first time in nearly a century as an independent nation, Panama controlled the entirety of its national territory. Explored by Columbus in 1502 and by Balboa in 1513, Panama was the principal shipping point to and from South and Central America in colonial days. Secession from Spain and union with Gran Colombia, Transcontinental railroad and canal projects, The Cold War Museum - Manuel Noriega and Panama, National Geographic Kids - Countries - Panama, Central Intelligence Agency - The World Factbook - Panama, Panama - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Panama - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Panama is a country located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Marine Life Conservation. Climatic regions are determined less on the basis of temperature than on rainfall, which varies regionally from less than 1,300 millimeters (51.2 in) to more than 3,000 millimeters (118.1 in) per year. Embracing the isthmus and more than 1,600 islands off its Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the tropical nation is renowned as the site of the Panama Canal, which cuts through its midsection. The Panama Canal was the greatest single engineering feat in history. The majority of the population of the country lives around the Panama Canal or in cities like Panama City and Colón. total: Panama's neighboring bodies of water are The Caribbean Sea and The Pacific Ocean. A variation of about 70 centimetres (2.3 ft) between high and low water on the Caribbean coast contrasts sharply with over 700 cm (23 ft) on the Pacific coast, and some 130 km (81 mi) up the Río Tuira, the tidal range is still over 500 cm (16 ft). For details on the engineering and operation of the waterway, see Panama Canal. Soils are commonly reddish to brown and rich in clay. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? It is equally well known for its natural beauty, for its diverse plant and animal life, including hundreds of bird and tree species, and for its vibrant music and culture. In 1904, the United States and Panama signed a treaty that allowed the United States to build and operate a canal that traversed Panama.The treaty also gave the United States the right to govern a ten-mile wide Canal Zone that encompassed the waterway, which was completed in 1914. In effect, the water flows to both coasts simultaneously via the canal’s system of locks and dams. With the decline of the Spanish Empire, Panama lost much of … On poorer soils, a shifting subsistence agriculture is practiced. Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane belt. Port on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get between North and American. Ranges, and form coastal deltas exceptionally fertile soils have developed from volcanic ash of that in Colón in,... 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