The Republic of Panama is the southernmost country in Central America. It is a former Spanish colony with a mixed population of Creoles, mestizos, European immigrants, Africans, and indigenous Indians. Panama is bordered Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the south-east, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Panama is known as a transit country because of the Panama Canal.
While the country is known for its famous canal, its natural attractions include birding, whitewater rafting, and snorkeling tours. Panama’s biodiversity has been said to be three times higher than the United State, Canada and Europe combined. More than 29 percent of the country’s landscape includes 15 national parks, forest reserves and 10 wildlife sanctuaries.
Panama forms a natural land bridge, connecting South and Central America. The area of the country is 25,590 square miles (74,046 square kilometers). According to the 2000 census, Panama had a population of 2.8 million people. Of these, 1 million live in and around Panama City.
Panama is the most industrialized country in Central America; although it has the third largest economy after Guatemala and Costa Rica, Panama has the most developed economy and is the largest consumer of Central American countries.