U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Panama
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Panama
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Panamanian(s).
Population (1996 est.): 2.68 million.
Annual growth rate: 2%.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Indian and European ancestry) 70%, West
Indian 14%, Caucasian 10%, Indian 6%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant (Evangelical) 15%.
Languages: Spanish (official); 14% speak English as their native tongue;
various Indian languages.
Education: Years compulsory--6. Attendance--95% for primary school-age
children, 96% for secondary. Literacy--About 90% overall: urban 94%,
Health: Infant mortality rate--17/1,000. Life expectancy--74 yrs.
Workforce (910,000): Government and community services--32%.
Agriculture--27%. Commerce, restaurants, and hotels--16%. Manufacturing
and mining--9%. Transportation and communication--6%. Construction--3%.
Finance, insurance, and real estate--4%.
Area: 77,381 sq. km. (29,762 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than South
Carolina. Panama occupies the southeastern end of the isthmus forming
the land bridge between North and South America.
Cities: Capital--Panama City (827,828). Other cities--Colon (140,908),
Terrain: Mountainous (highest elevation Cerro Volcan, 3,475 m.--11,468
ft.); coastline 2,857 km. (1,786 mi.).
Climate: Tropical, with average daily rainfall 28 mm. (1 in.) in winter.
Type: Constitutional democracy.
Independence: November 3, 1903.
Constitution: October 11, 1972; amended 1983 and 1994.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), two vice presidents.
Legislative--Legislative Assembly (unicameral, 72 members). Judicial--
Subdivisions: Nine provinces and two (Indian) territories.
Political parties: President Perez Balladares belongs to the Democratic
Revolutionary Party (PRD), which in a coalition with smaller parties,
holds a slim majority in the Legislative Assembly. Opposition parties
include Arnulfista Party (PA), to which former President Endara belongs;
the Christian Democratic Party (PDC); the Papa Egoro Party; and the
National Liberal Republic Movement (MOLIRENA).
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at 18.
Real GDP: $5.7 billion.
Annual growth rate: 1.9%.
Per capita GDP: $2,885.
Natural resources: Timber, seafood, copper.
Services (72% of GDP): Finance, insurance, canal-related services, Colon
Agriculture (11% of GDP): Products--bananas and other fruit, corn,
sugar, rice, coffee, shrimp, timber, vegetables, cattle. Land--
agricultural 24%, exploitable forest 20%, other 56%.
Industry (19% of GDP): Types--food and drink processing, metalworking,
petroleum products, chemicals, paper and paper products, printing,
mining, refined sugar, clothing, furniture, construction.
Trade: Exports--$565 million: bananas 33%, shrimp 11%, sugar 4%, coffee
2%, clothing 5%. Major markets: U.S. 40%. Imports--$2.33 billion:
capital goods 21%, crude oil 11%, foodstuffs 9 %, other consumer and
intermediate goods 57%. Major suppliers: U.S. 40%.
Exchange rate: Fixed at unity with the U.S. dollar.
The culture, customs, and language of the Panamanians are predominantly
Caribbean Spanish. Ethnically, the majority of the population is mestizo
(mixed Spanish and Indian) or mixed Spanish, Indian, Chinese, and West
Indian. Spanish is the official and dominant language; English is a
common second language spoken by the West Indians and by many in
business and the professions. More than half the population lives in the
Panama City-Colon metropolitan corridor.
Panama is rich in folklore and popular traditions. Brightly colored
national dress is worn during local festivals and the pre-Lenten
carnival season, especially for traditional folk dances like the
tanborito. Lively salsa--a mixture of Latin American popular music,
rhythm and blues, jazz, and rock--is a Panamanian specialty. Indian
influences dominate handicrafts such as the famous Kuna textile molas.
Artist Roberto Lewis' Presidential Palace murals and his restoration
work and ceiling in the National Theater are well known and admired.
Over 65,000 Panamanian students attend the University of Panama, the
Technological University, and the University of Santa Maria La Antigua,
a private Catholic institution. Including smaller colleges, there are 14
institutions of higher education in Panama.
The first six years of primary education are compulsory, and there are
357,000 students currently enrolled in grades one through six. The total
enrollment in the six secondary grades is 207,000. Nearly 90% of
Panamanians are literate.
Panama's history has been shaped by the evolution of the world economy
and the ambitions of great powers. Rodrigo de Bastidas, sailing westward
from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, was the first European to
explore the Isthmus of Panama. A year later, Christopher Columbus
visited the isthmus and established a short-lived settlement in the
Darien. Vasco Nunez de Balboa's tortuous trek from the Atlantic to the
Pacific in 1513 demonstrated that the isthmus was indeed the path
between the seas, and Panama quickly became the crossroads and
marketplace of Spain's empire in the New World. Gold and silver were
brought by ship from South America, hauled across the Isthmus, and
loaded aboard ships for Spain. The route became known as the Camino
Real, or Royal Road.
Panama was part of the Spanish empire for 300 years (1538-1821). From
the outset, Panamanian identity was based on a sense of "geographic
destiny," and Panamanian fortunes fluctuated with the geopolitical
importance of the isthmus. The colonial experience also spawned
Panamanian nationalism as well as a racially complex and highly
stratified society, the source of internal conflicts that ran counter to
the unifying force of nationalism.
BUILDING THE CANAL
Modern Panamanian history has been shaped by its trans-isthmian canal,
which had been a dream since the beginning of Spanish colonization. From
1880 to 1900, a French company under Ferdinand de Lesseps attempted
unsuccessfully to construct a sea-level canal on the site of the present
Panama Canal. In November 1903, with U.S. encouragement and French
financial support, Panama proclaimed its independence and concluded the
Hay/Bunau-Varilla Treaty with the United States. The treaty conceded
rights to the United States "as if it were sovereign" in a zone roughly
10 miles wide and 50 miles long. In that zone, the U.S. would build a
canal, then administer, fortify, and defend it "in perpetuity." In 1914,
the United States completed the existing 83-kilometer (50-mile) lock
canal, which today is one of the world's greatest engineering triumphs.
The early 1960s saw the beginning of sustained pressure in Panama for
the renegotiation of this treaty. (See discussion of United States-
Panama relations and the 1977 Panama Canal Treaties below.)
MILITARY COUPS AND COALITIONS
From 1903 until 1968, Panama was a constitutional democracy dominated by
a commercially oriented oligarchy. During the 1950s, the Panamanian
military began to challenge the oligarchy's political hegemony. In
October 1968, Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid, twice elected president and
twice ousted by the Panamanian military, was again ousted as president
by the National Guard after only 10 days in office. A military junta
government was established, and the commander of the national guard,
Brigadier General Omar Torrijos, emerged as the principal power in
Panamanian political life. Torrijos' regime was harsh and corrupt, but
he was a charismatic leader whose populist domestic programs and
nationalist foreign policy appealed to the rural and urban
constituencies largely ignored by the oligarchy.
Torrijos' death in 1981 altered the tone but not the direction of
Panama's political evolution. Despite 1983 constitutional amendments
which appeared to proscribe a political role for the military, the
Panama Defense Force (PDF), as they were then known, continued to
dominate Panamanian political life behind a facade of civilian
government. The PDF's hand-picked candidate won the presidential
election in 1984. Pro-government parties also won a majority of
Legislative Assembly seats, in races tainted by charges of corruption.
By this time, General Manuel Noriega was firmly in control of both the
PDF and the civilian government.
The rivalry between civilian elites and the Panamanian military, which
had been a recurring theme in Panamanian political life since the 1950s,
now developed into a grave crisis. In the summer of 1987, prompted by
government restrictions on media and civil liberties, more than 100
business, civic, and religious groups formed a loose coalition that
organized widespread anti-government demonstrations.
Panama's developing domestic crisis was paralleled by rising tensions
between the Panamanian Government and the United States. The United
States froze economic and military assistance to Panama in the summer of
1987 in response to the political crisis and an attack on the U.S.
embassy. The Government of Panama countered by ousting the U.S. Agency
for International Development in December 1987; before the end of the
year, the U.S. Congress cut off all assistance to Panama. General
Noriega's February 1988 indictment in U.S. courts on drug trafficking
charges sharpened tensions; in April 1988, President Reagan invoked the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act, freezing Panamanian
Government assets in U.S. banks and prohibiting a variety of payments by
American agencies, firms, and individuals to the Noriega regime.
When national elections were held in May 1989, Panamanians voted for the
anti-Noriega candidates by a margin of over three-to-one. Although the
size of the opposition victory and the presence of international
observers thwarted regime efforts to control the outcome of the vote,
the Noreiga regime promptly annulled the election and embarked on a new
round of repression.
By the fall of 1989, the regime was barely clinging to power. An
unsuccessful PDF coup attempt in October produced bloody reprisals.
Deserted by all but a small number of cronies, and distrustful of a
shaken and demoralized PDF, Noriega began increasingly to rely on
irregular paramilitary units called Dignity Battalions. In December
1989, the regime's paranoia made daily existence unsafe for U.S. forces
and other U.S. citizens.
On December 20, President Bush ordered the U.S. military into Panama to
protect U.S. lives and property, to fulfill U.S. treaty responsibilities
to operate and defend the Canal, to assist the Panamanian people in
restoring democracy, and to bring Noriega to justice. The U.S. troops
involved in Operation Just Cause achieved their primary objectives
quickly, and troop withdrawal began on December 27. Noreiga eventually
surrendered to U.S. authorities voluntarily. He is now serving a 40-year
sentence in Florida for drug trafficking.
Panamanians moved quickly to rebuild their civilian constitutional
government. On December 27, 1989, Panama's Electoral Tribunal
invalidated the Noreiga regime's annulment of the May 1989 election and
confirmed the victory of opposition candidates under the leadership of
President Guillermo Endara, and Vice Presidents Guillermo Ford and
Ricardo Arias Calderon.
President Endara took office as the head of a four-party minority
government, pledging to foster Panama's economic recovery, transform the
Panamanian military into a political force under civilian control, and
strengthen democratic institutions. During its five-year term, the
Endara Government struggled to meet the public's high expectations. Its
new police force proved to be a major improvement in outlook and
behavior over its thuggish predecessor, but was not fully able to deter
crime. Its overall record was not enough to convince a skeptical public
that it deserved re-election in 1994.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Panama is a representative democracy with three branches of government:
executive and legislative branches elected by direct, secret vote for
five-year terms, and an independent appointed judiciary. The executive
branch includes a president and two vice presidents. The Legislative
Branch consists of a 72-member unicameral Legislative Assembly. The
judicial branch is organized under a nine-member Supreme Court and
includes all tribunals and municipal courts. An autonomous Electoral
Tribunal supervises voter registration, the election process, and the
activities of political parties. Everyone over the age of 18 is required
to vote, although those who fail to do so are not penalized.
Ernesto "Toro" Perez Balladares was sworn in as President on September
1, 1994, after an internationally monitored election campaign--Panama's
largest, with seven candidates for the presidency, over 2,500 for the
legislature, 2,000 for mayoral posts, and more than 10,000 at the local
level--that was notable for its non-violent, orderly, and efficient
Perez Balladares ran as the candidate for a three-party coalition
dominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the erstwhile
political arm of the military dictatorship during the Torrijos and
Noreiga years. A long-time member of the PRD, Perez Balladares worked
skillfully during the campaign to rehabilitate the PRD's image,
emphasizing the party's populist Torrijos roots rather than its
association with Noriega. He won the election with only 33% of the vote
when the major non-PRD forces, unable to agree on a joint candidate,
splintered into competing factions.
Perez Balladares has broad powers under Panama's current constitution,
but must work with a Legislative Assembly in which his PRD party and its
political allies have only a bare majority. Although the assembly lacks
strong budgetary authority, it does play a crucial role in designing
political, economic, and social initiatives; President Perez Balladares
has governed with a multi-party cabinet that includes prominent experts
in their fields as well as several members who publicly opposed Noriega.
His administration has carried out economic reforms and worked closely
with the U.S. on implementation on the Canal treaties.
The Panamanian Government has converted the former Panama Defense Forces
(PDF) into a civilian "public force," subordinate to civilian officials
and composed of four independent units: the Panamanian National Police,
the National Maritime Service (Coast Guard), the National Air Service,
and the Institutional Protective Service (VIP Security). A
constitutional amendment, passed in 1994, abolished the military
Law enforcement units that have been separated from the public force,
such as the Technical Judicial Police, are also directly subordinate to
civilian authorities. The public force budget--in contrast to the former
PDF--is on public record and under control of the executive.
The United States, with congressional approval, is delivering assistance
to help train and establish truly professional law enforcement agencies.
In fiscal year 1996, the United States provided police skills training
and technical assistance in civilian law enforcement development through
a $31 million program managed by the International Criminal
Investigative and Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). In addition,
$9.5 million was spent to help the Panamanian government improve its
administration of justice. Equipment that is appropriate for police work
is also being provided.
Principal Government Officials
President--Ernesto PEREZ BALLADARES
First Vice President--Tomas G. ALTAMIRANO DUQUE
Second Vice President--Felipe VIRZI
Ministry of Foreign Affairs--Ricardo Alberto ARIAS
Ambassador to the U.S.--Eduardo MORGAN
Ambassador to the UN--Aquilino BOYD
Ambassador to the OAS--Lawrence CHEWNING FABREGA
Panama maintains an embassy in the United States at 2862 McGill Terrace,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008 (tel: 202-483-1407).
Two great challenges face the Balladares Administration: efficiently
utilizing 70,000 acres of U.S. military land and more than 4,000
buildings which will revert to Panama by the end of 1999, and laying a
solid groundwork for assuming full control of the Panama Canal in the
21st century. As the U.S. military departs, Panama will have to replace
jobs and income earned from U.S. bases. Long-term investor confidence
brought about by political stability and economic liberalization are the
keys to Panama's economic future.
Panama's economy is primarily based on a well-developed services sector
that accounts for 72% of GDP. Services include the Panama Canal,
banking, insurance, government, and the Colon Free Zone--the world's
second-largest free trade zone after Hong Kong. Mining, tourism, and
maritime services are projected sources of future growth.
Although the economic recovery of the early 1990s returned the country
to its 1987, pre-crisis levels, sustained growth depends on Panama's
ability to resolve long-standing problems of inequitable distribution of
wealth, high tariffs, external debt, and dependence on U.S. Government
and Canal revenues. Under- and unemployment continue to be the most
serious challenges to the Government of Panama. Panama's working-age
population is expected to grow 2.5% per year during the 1990s; the
economy must grow by at least 5% annually, according to one estimate, to
keep the unemployment rate stable as new entrants swell the labor force.
If current low growth rates (about 2%) continue, the unemployment rate
(now 14%) will worsen.
In 1996, U.S. exports to Panama were $1.4 billion; imports from Panama
were $346 million, for an overall trade surplus of just over $1 billion.
Trade with the U.S. comprises roughly 40% of Panama's total trade.
In recent years, Panama has embarked on an ambitious privatization
program. Cellular phone service has been privatized, as have the ports
of Cristobal and Balboa. Privatization, the state telecommuncations
company TELECOM, the power utility, casinos, and a racetrack are in
process. The government also plans to privatize two government-owned
sugar mills, a convention center, and an international airport. U.S.
companies are involved in many of the ongoing privatizations, although
there have been concerns about certain privatization efforts.
U.S. companies play an important role in the Panamanian economy. They
are particularly active in banking, bananas, ports, and other services.
There are approximately 100 U.S. companies operating in Panama.
Role of Business
The government and the U.S. business community actively promote Panama's
long-standing reputation as an international trading, banking, and
services center, and as a site for foreign direct investment. Panama's
economy is characterized by low inflation and zero foreign exchange
risk. Panama must, however, take measures to detect and deter money
laundering and improve its infrastructure if it is to attract
The major task of the Perez Balladares Government is to put into place
decisive policy reforms to change the economy and sustain long-term
growth. These include reducing the public sector payroll, liberalizing
the trade regime, privatizing state-owned enterprises, and fostering job
creation through labor code reforms. Panama acceded to the World Trade
Organization (WTO) in October 1996; legislation to ratify and implement
membership is before the Legislative Assembly. To bring its regime into
compliance with WTO, Panama has reduced tariffs over a broad range of
products, converted some tariffs to "value added," and is in the process
of eliminating non-tariff barriers.
Panama is a member of the UN General Assembly, most major UN agencies,
and has served three terms as a member of the UN Security Council. It
maintains membership in several international financial institutions,
including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the
International Monetary Fund. Panama is a member of the Organization of
American States, and was a founding member of the Rio Group. Although it
was suspended from the Latin American Economic System (known informally
both as the Group of Eight and the Rio Group) in 1988 due to its
internal political system under Noriega, Panama was re-admitted in
September 1994 as an acknowledgment of its present democratic
credentials. Panama is also one of the founding members of the Union of
Banana Exporting Countries and belongs to the Inter-American Tropical
Panama is an active participant in Central American regional meetings,
although it is not a formal participant in integration activities.
Panama is a member of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) as well
as the Central American Integration System (SICA). The government is
also taking steps to join the Central American Development Bank. Panama
joined its six Central American neighbors at the 1994 Summit of the
Americas in signing the Alliance for Sustainable Development known as
the Conjunta Centroamerica-USA or CONCAUSA to promote sustainable
economic development in the region.
Panama strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN
Security Council Resolution 940, designed to facilitate the departure of
Haiti's de facto authorities from power. Panama offered to contribute
personnel to the Multinational Force, which restored the democratically
elected government to Haiti in October 1994, and granted asylum to the
former Haitian military leaders. Also in 1994, Panama agreed to accept
9,000 Cuban "rafters," who were housed temporarily on U.S. military
range areas until 1995.
The Panama Canal Treaties have provided the foundation for an enduring
partnership. The U.S. and Panama are implementing the treaties by
preparing for the transfer to Panama of the Canal and the U.S. base
properties. Overall U.S. assistance to Panama in FY 1995 was $23
million. Additionally, civic action projects, direct, and indirect
military spending pump over $250 million annually into the Panamanian
The United States cooperates with the Panamanian Government in promoting
economic, political, and social development through U.S. and
international agencies. Cultural ties between the two countries are
strong, and many Panamanians come to the United States for higher
education and advanced training. Approximately 6,000 Americans reside in
Panama, consisting of retirees from the Panama Canal Commission and
individuals who hold dual nationality. The number of U.S. visitors to
Panama from July 1995 to June 1996 averaged around 3,600, and 110
companies are operating in Panama. President Perez Balladares, a Notre
Dame and Wharton School graduate, has pursued a close relationship with
the United States.
Panama continues to fight against illegal narcotics. The country's
proximity to major cocaine-producing nations and its role as a
commercial and financial crossroads make it a country of special
importance in this regard. Although money laundering remains a problem,
the Perez Balladares Government and the United States are cooperating in
a new initiative to attack this problem.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--William J. Hughes
Deputy Chief of Mission--Edward B. O'Donnell, Jr.
Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs--Elizabeth Bollmann
Counselor for Public Affairs--Patrick Duddy (arrives 8/97)
Counselor for Administrative Affairs--Manuel Acosta (arrives 7/97)
Consul General--Paul Kline (arrives 8/97)
Panama Canal Commission
Administrator--Alberto ALEMAN Zubieta
Deputy Administrator--Joseph Cornelison
U.S. Southern Command
Commander in Chief--General Wesley Clark (departs 7/97)
Deputy Commander in Chief--RADM Walter Doran
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Director--Dr. Ira Rubinoff
The U.S. embassy in Panama is located at Avenida Balboa y Calle 38,
Panama City (tel: 507-227-1777). Personal and official mail for the
embassy and members of the mission may be sent to: U.S. Embassy Panama,
Unit 0945, APO AA 34002.
E-mail: U.S. Information Service (USIS): email@example.com
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION
American Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Panama
Panama, Republica de Panama
Tel: (507) 269-3881
Fax: (507) 223-3508
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin American and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Tel: (202) 482-0057
Fax: (202) 482-0464
Home Page: http://www.ita.doc.gov
THE PANAMA CANAL TREATIES
The 1977 Panama Canal Treaties entered into force on October 1, 1979.
They replaced the 1903 Hay/Bunau-Varilla Treaty between the United
States and Panama, and all other United States-Panama agreements
concerning the Panama Canal which were in force on that date. The
-- A basic treaty governing the operation and defense of the Canal from
October 1, 1979, to December 31, 1999 (Panama Canal Treaty); and
-- A treaty guaranteeing the permanent neutrality of the Canal
The details of the arrangements for U.S. operation and defense of the
Canal under the Panama Canal Treaty are spelled out in separate
Purpose of the Treaties
In negotiating the Panama Canal Treaties, four successive United States
Administrations acted to protect a fundamental national interest in
long-term access to a secure and efficient Canal. Panama's cooperation
is fundamental to this objective. By meeting Panamanian aspirations for
eventual control of the Canal, the United States sought a new
relationship with Panama based on friendship and mutual respect. The
treaties make Panama a partner in the continued safe and efficient
operation of the Canal. In serving the best interests of both nations,
the treaties serve the interests of all users of the Canal.
History of the Negotiations
Our bilateral relationship with Panama has centered on the Panama Canal
since the beginning of the century. Under the 1903 treaty, the United
States acquired unilateral rights to build and operate a canal in
perpetuity. It also acquired the Canal Zone--a 553 square-mile area in
which the United States exercised the rights, power, and authority of a
sovereign state. In January 1964, Panamanian dissatisfaction with this
relationship boiled over into riots which resulted in the deaths of four
U.S. Marines and more than 20 Panamanians. A three-month suspension of
diplomatic relations followed.
The growing bilateral tension in the 1960s gave weight to the views of
those who believed that a new Canal Treaty was needed to replace the
1903 treaty and to establish a new relationship with Panama. In June
1967, United States and Panamanian negotiators completed draft treaties
dealing with the existing Canal, a possible sea-level Canal through
Panama, and defense matters. Neither country ratified the treaties,
however, and they were publicly rejected by the new Torrijos Government
Treaty negotiations resumed in June 1994 leading to a declaration of
principles signed in 1973 by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his
Panamanian counterpart, Juan Antonio Tack. On September 7, 1977,
President Carter and General Torrijos signed the Panama Canal Treaties
at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in
Washington, D.C. The Panamanian people approved the new treaties in a
plebiscite held on October 23, 1977. The U.S. Senate ratified the
Neutrality Treaty on March 16, 1978, and the Panama Canal Treaty on
April 18, 1978. The treaties entered into force on October 1, 1979. The
protocol to the Neutrality Treaty is open to accession by all nations,
and more than 35 have subscribed.
Basic Provisions of the Treaties
The United States has primary responsibility for the operation and
defense of the Canal until December 31, 1999. After that date, the
United States and Panama will maintain a regime of neutrality for the
Canal, including nondiscriminatory access and tolls for merchant and
naval vessels of all nations. A U.S. Senate condition attached to the
instruments of ratification allows the U.S. and Panama to negotiate a
post-1999 defense-sites treaty, if both countries find such a treaty in
their mutual interest.
In order to meet its treaty responsibilities, the United States has the
right to use specified land and water areas and facilities in Panama
necessary for the operation, maintenance, and defense of the Canal until
December 31, 1999. U.S. warships will be entitled to expeditious passage
through the Canal at all times, however, and the United States will
continue to have the right to ensure that the Canal remains open and
The United States operates the Canal through the Panama Canal Commission
(PCC), which is a U.S. Government agency supervised by a Board of
Directors consisting of five American and four Panamanian members,
appointed by the President (the Panamanian members are initially
nominated by their government). Until 1990, the Canal Administrator was
an American and the Deputy Administrator was Panamanian; these
nationalities reversed for the final decade of the treaty on September
20, 1990, when Gilberto Guardia was installed as the first Panamanian
Administrator. He was succeeded in 1996 by another Panamanian, Alberto
Aleman Zubieta. Pursuant to treaty obligations, the PCC is training
Panamanians in all areas of Canal operations prior to the transfer of
the Canal in 1999. Panamanian citizens currently comprise over 92% of
the PCC workforce.
During the life of the treaty, Panama receives the following payments
from Canal revenues:
-- A fixed annual payment of $10 million;
-- An annual payment of $10 million, adjustable for inflation, for
public services provided to Canal operating areas by the Government of
Panama (the Canal Zone and its government ceased to exist when the
treaties entered into force, and Panama assumed jurisdiction over Canal
Zone territories and functions);
-- An annual percentage of toll revenues assessed at $0.39 (since
October 1, 1996) per Panama Canal net ton transiting the Canal, worth
$84.6 million in 1996; and
-- A payment of up to $10 million in the event that revenues exceed PCC
expenditures in a given year.
Under U.S. implementing legislation (the Panama Canal Act), the PCC must
be self-sustaining; its costs may not exceed its revenues, nor may U.S.
taxpayer funds be used for Canal operations or payments to Panama.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous
areas, are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a
country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this
publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's
World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov; this site has a link to
the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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