The home of several Native American peoples, such as the Guaymí, Kuna, and Chocó, Panama became the first Spanish colony on the Pacific. tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May), Terrain: A third influence that is present during the late autumn is the southwest wind off the Pacific. contiguous zone: A central spine of mountain ranges extends almost the entire length of Panama, dividing the country into Atlantic- and Pacific-facing slopes. Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km, Maritime claims: 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. total: They vary in fertility, and in many areas crops can be grown continuously only if fertilizers are applied. 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. total: In effect, the water flows to both coasts simultaneously via the canal’s system of locks and dams. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. Geography has played an enormous role in shaping the history of Panama. Several sites along the Azuero Peninsula, including Monagrillo, have yielded a large amount of ceramic pottery that is thought t… Nearly as narrow is the portion of the isthmus traversed by the Panama Canal. 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. border countries: Central Panama has the unusual distinction of having the sun rise over the Pacific and set over the Atlantic. Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling 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: 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. 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. The annual average in Panama City is little more than half of that in Colón. 75,420 km2 Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Read about Panama's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by The Pacific coastline is more indented and irregular, and its continental shelf is much wider than that on the Atlantic side. Panama encompasses approximately 75,417 km2 (29,119 sq mi). The United States relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999, marking an unprecedented shift in Panamanian society. Location and Geography. In 1821, when Central America revolted against Spain, Panama joined Colombia, which had already declared its independence. 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. The Panama Canal was the greatest single engineering feat in history. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Panama. Sedimentary rocks such as slates and shales underlie most of the lowland zones. The majority of the population of the country lives around the Panama Canal or in cities like Panama City and Colón. The Pacific coastal waters are extraordinarily shallow. 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. Panama » City Info » Geography. The country’s highest peak is an inactive volcano, Barú (Chiriquí), which reaches an elevation of 11,401 feet (3,475 metres). Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? For the next 82 years, Panama attempted unsuccessfully to break away from Colombia. 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. Summary. History. A year later, Christopher Columbus arrived and established the city of Darien. Geography - note: Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Panama is a narrow, s-shaped isthmus located between Colombia and Costa Rica, bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. Almost all of the rain falls during the rainy season, which is usually from May through November, but varies in length from seven to nine months, with certain exception due to monsoons. Construction began in 1904 under the Army Corps of Engineers led by George W. Goethals. Panama - GEOGRAPHY Panama. Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama. 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. ; About FamilySearch Wiki The highlands and mountains are made up primarily of igneous (volcanic) rocks. For the first time in nearly a century as an independent nation, Panama controlled the entirety of its national territory. Panama's tropical environment supports an abundance of plants. Geography Panama Homepage The Panama Homepage has provided a variety of information with regards to Panama's position in the world. Climate: The climate is mostly hot and dry, desert-like. Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. 24 nautical miles (44 km) This page was last edited on 18 April 2020, at 21:42. Geography. Government. Paralleling the principal mountain chains, a lower mountain arc extends along Panama’s southern coast. This page was last edited on 18 April 2020, at 20:42. 335,646 km2 (129,594 sq mi) and 200 nautical miles (370 km) or edge of continental margin, Climate: Rodrigo de Bastidas, sailing westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, was the first European to explore the Isthmus of Panama. In the 16th and 17th centuries, at the height of the Empire, no other region would prove of more strategic and economic importance. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Learn about the history and culture of Panama, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. In 1821, Panama declared independence from Spain and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, which became the Republic of New Grenada in 1831. Marine Life Conservation. 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. Subsistence farming, widely practiced from the northeastern jungles to the southwestern grasslands, consists largely of corn, bean, and tuber plots. Panama has a tropical climate. The Panama isthmus was first explored by Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas in the year 1501. 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). 555 km After a U.S. proposal for ca… Their basins are also more extensive. occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area, earthquakes, Environment - current issues: Language. Panama is a country located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Panama's culture is the result of its geographical location and history. Panama became the Spanish Vice-royalty of New Andalucia in 1519. 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. This official website of the Embassy of Panama in the U.S. provides general country information including history, culture, political structure, economy and tourism. 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 S-shaped isthmus is situated between 7° and 10° north latitude and 77° and 83° west longitude. The building of the Panama Canal is considered one of the great engineering feats of history. other: Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. 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. Panama is located on the narrowest and lowest part of the Isthmus of Panama that links North America and South America. According to archaeologists, humans lived in Panama as early as 12,000 B.C. Some of the soils along the inland edges of coastal mangrove swamps have also proved productive. The area that became Panama was part of Colombia until the Panamanians revolted, with U.S. support, in 1903. Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane belt. In some areas, exceptionally fertile soils have developed from volcanic ash. Panama was subordinated to the viceroyalty of Peru and remained in this status until 1717, when it was transferred to New Granada. The new Panamanian government authorized French businessman Philippe Bunau-Varilla, to negotiate a treaty with the United States. Temperatures are uniformly high—as is the relative humidity—and there is little seasonal variation. copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower, Land use: 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. Panama is divided into 10 provinces, plus several indigenous comarcas. The first European to visit Panama was Rodrigo de Bastida in 1501. The Kampia lake and Madden Lake (also filled with water from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity for the area of the former Canal Zone. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). 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. The Río Chepo and the Río Chagres are sources of hydroelectric power. 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. Geography. 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. 2.51% Panama's history has been shaped by the evolution of the world economy and the ambitions of great powers. 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. Updates? 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. exclusive economic zone: 148 km3 (2011), Natural hazards: The canal also secures Panama’s ongoing role in international affairs and world commerce. territorial sea: 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. Coiba is the largest island in Central America, off of Panama´s Pacific Coast at 503 square kilometers. 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. 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. Transportation . Nearly 40 percent of Panama is wooded. You can learn more about how the importance of the Panama Canal has shaped Panamanian, and global history, at the Museum of the Panama Canal in Panama City. arable land: The isthmus runs east-west in the form of an inverted "S." Low mountains run through most of the country, leaving a gap in the center that is nearly at sea level. The Panama Canal Zone was in effect, a part of the US inside Panama. 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. Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama. History of the Panama Canal . 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. Soils are commonly reddish to brown and rich in clay. The terrain of Panama is interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills. As a consequence, the tidal range is extreme. Forests dominate, interrupted in places by grasslands, scrub, and crops. 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. With the decline of the Spanish Empire, Panama lost much of … The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. Deforestation is a continuing threat to the rain-drenched woodlands. 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. Farther east it becomes the Serranía de Tabasará, and the portion of it closer to the lower saddle of the isthmus, where the canal is located, is often called the Sierra de Veraguas. The over 350 San Blas Islands, near Colombia, are strung out for more than 160 km (99 mi) along the sheltered Caribbean coastline. People. Author of. It borders Colombia to the east, Costa Rica to the west, and the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean to the north and south. And despite cutting through Panama, it was all American. Research Professor of History, University of Texas at Arlington. 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. Panama's neighboring bodies of water are The Caribbean Sea and The Pacific Ocean. Panama has 1,550 miles (2,490 km) of coastline. Between 1850 and 1900 Panama had 40 administrations, 50 riots, 5 attempted secessions, and 13 U.S. interventions. Geographic coordinates: 9°00′N 80°00′W / 9.000°N 80.000°W / 9.000; -80.000, Map references: 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. It offers a view of both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.. land: The Caribbean coastline is marked by several good natural harbors. Panama's location made it a perfect site for a canal. 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. water: 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. Rivers flowing to the Pacific include the Chiriquí Viejo, Santa María, Chepo, Chucunaque, and Tuira. signed, but not ratified: The dominant feature of Panama's landform is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. Panama's special geography and history make its people the most cosmopolitan in the region. 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 principal archipelagoes off the Caribbean coast are those of Bocas del Toro and San Blas. Tourism. Of Panama’s many short rivers, those that flow to the Caribbean include the Sixaola, Changuinola, Indio, Cricamola, La Miel, and Chagres. As a whole, the range between Costa Rica and the canal is generally referred to by Panamanian geographers as the Cordillera Central. The provinces are divided into districts, which in turn are subdivided into sections called corregimientos. It is 772 km (480 mi) long, and between 60 and 177 kilometers (37 and 110 mi) wide. 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. party to: Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama. This depression (the Panama Canal site) divides the country again—roughly into western and eastern halves. and primarily used the country as a way to get between North and South America. The movement of people throughout the country's history created a melting pot of cultures that resulted in a highly diverse and unique national identity.