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. Nearly 500 rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. 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). copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower, Land use: Coiba is the largest island in Central America, off of Panama´s Pacific Coast at 503 square kilometers. 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. 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. Paralleling the principal mountain chains, a lower mountain arc extends along Panama’s southern coast. 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. 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. Rivers flowing to the Pacific include the Chiriquí Viejo, Santa María, Chepo, Chucunaque, and Tuira. tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May), Terrain: History. The building of the Panama Canal is considered one of the great engineering feats of history. 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. The first European to visit Panama was Rodrigo de Bastida in 1501. and primarily used the country as a way to get between North and South America. With the decline of the Spanish Empire, Panama lost much of … Updates? Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama. Panama City enjoys unique geographical location between the Pacific Ocean and tropical rain forest. 24 nautical miles (44 km) Panama » City Info » Geography. Central Panama has the unusual distinction of having the sun rise over the Pacific and set over the Atlantic. Panama's history has been shaped by the evolution of the world economy and the ambitions of great powers. contiguous zone: Rainfall is generally much heavier on the Caribbean than on the Pacific side. The United States relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999, marking an unprecedented shift in Panamanian society. 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. The major port on the Pacific coastline is Balboa. The provinces are divided into districts, which in turn are subdivided into sections called corregimientos. total: According to archaeologists, humans lived in Panama as early as 12,000 B.C. Omissions? Panama has a tropical climate. 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. The home of several Native American peoples, such as the Guaymí, Kuna, and Chocó, Panama became the first Spanish colony on the Pacific. Sedimentary rocks such as slates and shales underlie most of the lowland zones. total: The population was increased by Jewish immigrants from the West Indies (notably from Curaçao) in the mid-19th century. permanent crops: 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. 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. The Panama Canal makes the small Central American nation unique among its neighbors. Read about Panama's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by 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 Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The canal also secures Panama’s ongoing role in international affairs and world commerce. 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. 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. 555 km And despite cutting through Panama, it was all American. Of Panama’s many short rivers, those that flow to the Caribbean include the Sixaola, Changuinola, Indio, Cricamola, La Miel, and Chagres. This S-shaped isthmus is situated between 7° and 10° north latitude and 77° and 83° west longitude. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Brief History of Panama: Panama was originally inhabited by the Native American tribes of the Cocle and Cuevas peoples. Deforestation is a continuing threat to the rain-drenched woodlands. A year later, Christopher Columbus arrived and established the city of Darien. 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: 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. Panama became the Spanish Vice-royalty of New Andalucia in 1519. Summary. The Río Chepo and the Río Chagres are sources of hydroelectric power. 7.16% 148 km3 (2011), Natural hazards: Northern of South America, the Caribbean and sometimes Central America, Area: The country forms the land bridge between the North and South American continents. 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. 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. Marine Life Conservation. People. Subsistence farming, widely practiced from the northeastern jungles to the southwestern grasslands, consists largely of corn, bean, and tuber plots. Mangrove swamps occur along parts of both coasts, with banana plantations occupying deltas near Costa Rica. territorial sea: The temperature seldom exceeds 32 °C (89.6 °F) for more than a short time. Transportation . 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. Military. Some of the soils along the inland edges of coastal mangrove swamps have also proved productive. 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. Geography - note: The Pacific coastline is more indented and irregular, and its continental shelf is much wider than that on the Atlantic side. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Panama. It stretched alongside the length of the canal for five miles either side, only excluding Panama City and Colon on each entrance. For the next 82 years, Panama attempted unsuccessfully to break away from Colombia. signed, but not ratified: Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama. The new Panamanian government authorized French businessman Philippe Bunau-Varilla, to negotiate a treaty with the United States. History of the Panama Canal . Panama's culture is the result of its geographical location and history. Panama has 1,550 miles (2,490 km) of coastline. This depression (the Panama Canal site) divides the country again—roughly into western and eastern halves. Language. The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. 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. Although rainy-season thunderstorms are common, the country is outside the hurricane belt. 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 movement of people throughout the country's history created a melting pot of cultures that resulted in a highly diverse and unique national identity. During the rainy season the Tuira is navigable for some 40 miles (60 km) and the Chepo for 20 miles (30 km). Panama is a narrow, s-shaped isthmus located between Colombia and Costa Rica, bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. Panama, country of Central America located on the Isthmus of Panama, the narrow bridge of land that connects North and South America. 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. These Pacific-oriented rivers are longer and slower running than those of the Caribbean side. Panama is located in Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. 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. The country’s highest peak is an inactive volcano, Barú (Chiriquí), which reaches an elevation of 11,401 feet (3,475 metres). The Panama isthmus was first explored by Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas in the year 1501. Panama is a country located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. As a consequence, the tidal range is extreme. 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. other: The Panama Canal Zone was in effect, a part of the US inside Panama. A central spine of mountain ranges extends almost the entire length of Panama, dividing the country into Atlantic- and Pacific-facing slopes. 90.33% (2011), Total renewable water resources: 1,080 km2, Land boundaries: Panama's location made it a perfect site for a canal. In all, there are some 1,000 islands off the Pacific coast. 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. 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. Nearly as narrow is the portion of the isthmus traversed by the Panama Canal. Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. The Panama Canal was the greatest single engineering feat in history. Government. 12 nautical miles (22 km) The over 350 San Blas Islands, near Colombia, are strung out for more than 160 km (99 mi) along the sheltered Caribbean coastline. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? 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. Panama - GEOGRAPHY Panama. The Caribbean coastline is marked by several good natural harbors. Climate: The climate is mostly hot and dry, desert-like. Rodrigo de Bastidas, sailing westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, was the first European to explore the Isthmus of Panama. 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. water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources, Environment - international agreements: 75,420 km2 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. It borders Colombia to the east, Costa Rica to the west, and the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean to the north and south. 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