Panama – Country Quick Facts
Located in Central America, between Costa Rica and Colombia, separated by the latter through the Darien jungle, the Republic of Panama is geographically and politically stable. There is not even an army, as there is none in neighbouring Costa Rica.
It is most famous for the Panama Canal, connecting two oceans. Built 100 years ago, extended recently, handling 4% of global trade, making the country a logistics hub.
The Canal extension means a lot more business to be built around. Beside the 2nd largest free zone after Hongkong, in Colon, there are 2 more Special Economic Zones:
- City of Knowledge, home of software and other hi-tech companies.
- Panama Pacifico, for logistics, warehousing etc.
Panama has become a preferred offshore business and finance center. Financial crisis since 2008 have had no influence in Panama, solid annual growth between 6 and 10%.
By far most ships globally are registered here. Incorporating and running offshore firms is therefore an everyday affair. Accordingly, Panama has successfully signed bi-lateral treaties to not be considered a tax haven by the OECD.
Panama City ’s skyline and infrastructure are impressive and GDP per capita has become #2 in Latin America ($21,800 in 2015). Middle class is growing, accumulating wealth. The country is a bit smaller than South Carolina, has a population of 3.6 mio, a coastline of 2,490 km, hundreds of islands in both oceans.
Half of the country is covered by tropical rainforest, including the Central American mountain range, reaching up to 3,475m (Volcano Baru). Thus there are several different climate zones to live in, and providing ideal conditions for tropical fruits, coffee and vegetables.
The Inter-American Highway is the backbone of the country, stretching over 775 km from the Costa Rican border until Yaviza. The Darien jungle is a natural boarder. Traffic to Colombia must use a ferry from Colon to Cartagena.
Panama City’s Tocumen International is named the “Hub of the Americas”, with numerous destinations between Montreal and Vancouver in the North, to Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile in the South.
Conveniently, the currency is the USD, officially named as Balboa, the first European looking at the Pacific Ocean, although there are no Balboa bills.