Cruising to Panama
With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. On 7 September 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of 1999.
Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the intervening years. With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were turned over to Panama by or on 31 December 1999.
Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the
North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)
Interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Panama's dollarised economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-fourths of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. A slump in the Colon Free Zone and agricultural exports, the global slowdown, and the withdrawal of US military forces held back economic growth in 2000-03; growth picked up in 2004 and 2005 led by export-oriented services and a construction boom stimulated by tax incentives. The government has implemented tax reforms, as well as social security reforms, and backs regional trade agreements and development of tourism. Unemployment remains high.
Airports: 109 (2005)
800 km (includes 82 km Panama Canal) (2005)
Total: 5,254 ships (1000 GRT or over) 137,914,883 GRT/206,848,688 DWT
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region
Argentina - Belize - Brazil - Chile - Colombia - Costa Rica - Ecuador - El Salvador - French Guiana - Guatemala - Guyana - Honduras - Mexico - Nicaragua - Panama - Peru - St. Pierre and Miquelon - Suriname - Uruguay - Venezuela
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Balboa, Colon, Cristobal