Panama is a small country in Central America. It covers the Isthmus <<IHS muhs>> of Panama, a narrow strip of land that separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Panama borders Costa Rica, also in Central America, on the west and Colombia, in South America, on the east.
The Panama Canal cuts through the middle of Panama. Ships use it to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The capital, Panama City, is Panama’s largest city.
Panama is a land of hills and mountains. In the west, valleys between the mountains have good farmland. Some good farmland lies along the Pacific coast, too.
Panama has about 800 islands along the coasts and about 500 rivers. Its biggest lake was made when the Panama Canal was built. Ships travel through it.
Most people speak Spanish, Panama’s official language. Some Indians speak their own languages, too. Many people speak English. Most of Panama’s people are Roman Catholics.
About one-fourth of Panama’s workers are farmers. Most of them have small farms and grow only enough crops for their own use. Some people fish for a living.
People in the cities live in houses or apartments. In the countryside, many people live in small houses. Most of Panama’s people wear modern clothes like those worn in the United States. Panama’s Indians, especially women of the San Blas group, are famous for their colorful costumes.
Rice is the basic food of most people in Panama. Many of the people cook rice with beans to make a dish called guacho.
Baseball is the most popular sport in Panama. Basketball and soccer are also popular.
Resources and products
Panama receives money from ships that use the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal brings many jobs to the area around it.
Trade is important to Panama’s economy. Companies bring goods to a free trade zone in Panama and then ship them to other countries. They save money on taxes by doing this. Manufacturing is also important, especially around the canal.
Panama left Colombia and became independent in 1903. In 1914, the United States finished building the Panama Canal. It controlled the area around the canal, called the Canal Zone. The Canal Zone became wealthy, but the rest of the country did not.
In 1977, Panama and the United States agreed to put the Canal Zone under Panama’s control in 1979. At the end of 1999, Panama took over control of the canal.
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