Some Key Statistics about Panama
- Area: 75,517 Km2
- Population: 4 Million (est. 2015)
- Population Density: 49/Km2
- Currency: Balboa (1:1 Parity with the US Dollar)
- GDP: USD 82,179 MM (2015)
- Per capita GDP: USD 20,512 (2015)
- Government: Republic with Presidential System Official Language: Spanish
Panama is part of an Isthmus that also includes most of Costa Rica. This Isthmus forms a land bridge that connected the continents of North and South American. It was formed 2.6 millions years ago, due to (mainly oceanic) volcanic activity.
Panama has a population estimated to be 3.5 million in 2010. Its Gross Domestic Product in 2008 was US$ 23,183, with a per capita GDP of US$ 6,829. Panama’s Economy is primarily in the service sector, with particular emphasis on banking and financial activities; port and maritime activities; legal services, insurance; tourism, import/export activities, and commerce in general.
Business Climate and Living in Panama
The official currency is the US Dollar. Panama has no Central Bank, and there is a Constitutional clause that expressly prohibits the issuance of fiat currency by the Government. This Constitutional clause goes back to the Constitution of 1904, and since then Panama has always benefitted from monetary and price stability. There is no risk of currency devaluations from the Government, and there are no foreign exchange controls.
Panama has a modern Telecommunication Infrastructure, considered to be the most advanced in Central America and South America.
The International Banking Centre, created in the early ’70s. It includes 90 national and international banks. There is also a competitive Insurance market, and a well regulated Securities market. Thanks to the absence of foreign exchange controls, it is possible to open bank accounts in US Dollars, Euros, or any other foreign currency, making Panama’s International Banking Centre one of the most attractive and stable in the region.
Panama has a Codified-Civil Law system. The Panamanian Civil Code, adopted in 1917, was inspired in the Spanish Civil Code of 1899, which in turn was inspired by the French Napoleon Code of 1804.
The Constitution was created in 1972, and was modified in 1978, 1983, 1994 and 2004. The Supreme Court of Justice is the guardian of the integrity of the Constitution, and has the power and authority to strike down as Unconstitutional, laws enacted by the National Assembly, Administrative and other acts by the Executive Branch, or any other act by any other official authority in the Republic.
Panama has a system of territorial taxation, that is, Panama only taxes income from activities whose legal effects take place within the territory of Panama. Any activities whose legal effects take place outside Panama, are not subject to Income Tax, even if they were performed in or from Panama. The nationality of the person perceiving the income is not a factor.
Panama has a Republican and Unitary (not Federal) type of government. Government is composed of three branches: the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch.
The President and the Ministers comprise the Executive Branch. The President is elected by popular vote for a period of five years.
The Legislative Power is exercised by the National Assembly, composed of 71 Legislators (called “Diputados”), who are elected by popular vote every five years, and their terms in office coincide with that of the President.
The Judicial Branch is headed by the Supreme Court of Justice, consisting of nine magistrates, each of them appointed for a period of ten years. The appointment of magistrates is made by the President, and must be ratified by amajority in the National Assembly.
There is an Electoral Court (Tribunal Electoral) totally independent and autonomous from the other Branches, charged with the organization and calling of all elections. It is also responsible for announcing election results. The Electoral Court also maintains the registery of voters, where every citizen with the right to vote is listed. In Panama, every national [natural? citizen?] person who is at least eighteen years of age has the right to vote.