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The Republic of Panama is a former Spanish colony in Central America with a mixed population of Creoles, mestizos, European immigrants, Africans, and indigenous Indians.
Location and Geography. The country is a natural land bridge connecting the South American continent with Central America. The isthmus runs east-west in the form of an inverted "S. The Pacific coastline, with the Azuero Peninsula jutting south to define the Gulf of Panama, is longer than the Atlantic coastline. The area of the country is 25, square miles 74, square kilometers.
Panama dating culturePanama had approximately 2. The urban elite is primarily Creole, mostly of Spanish descent. There are also populations of Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Jewish origins. There is a longtime Chinese community, and a small Hindu community lives in the Panama dating culture, Panama City. The largest demographic group is the interioranos "interior people"who are classified as "Hispano-Indians. Together, these two groups constitute 70 percent of the population. There are four officially recognized Indian ethnic groups the Kuna, Guaymi or Ngawbe, Embera, and Waunanwhich fewer thanPeople of African descent for 15 percent of the population.
These "Afro-colonials" descend from slaves who were imported in colonial times. They speak Spanish and are Roman Catholic. The "Afro-Antillean" group descends from Caribbean residents who came to work on the construction of the Panama canal. They speak English, French, or an English patois at home and are mostly Protestant. Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Spanish, but English is used widely in business, especially banking and tourism, and by some people of African descent.
Emergence of the Nation. Panama became an autonomous nation because of its function as the custodian of the transisthmus shipping route—the "path between the seas. The Spanish discovered and conquered Panama between and At that time, it was referred to as the Castilla de Oro, a source of gold and potential converts. From throughthe area that is now Panama was a base for soldiers sent to conquer the Andean civilizations in South America.
Afterit was used as a land route Panama dating culture Spain's South American colonies and a transshipment point for Andean gold. From to there was series of pirate Panama dating culture, and in Panama City was sacked by buccaneers under the command Panama of Sir Henry Morgan. Local traders engaged in smuggling until Spain shifted the official gold route to Cape Horn, and the area entered a period of commercial decline. After independence from Spain and union with Colombia inthe isthmus again became an important transit route.
Slavery was abolished in The United States completed a railroad across the area in to expedite movement to the gold fields in California.
After failing to build a sea-level canal in the s, Panama dating culture French sold their concession to the United States, which conspired with the elite in Panama City to declare independence when they could not obtain a favorable treaty from Colombia. From tothe United States controlled the Canal Zone, a five-mile strip on both sides of the canal.
Residents of that area were called "Zonians" and remained American citizens even after three generations of residence.
These mostly white employees of the Canal Company lived an isolated life and were prejudiced against the Panamanian population. Inafter lengthy negotiations, President Jimmy Carter ed a treaty that abolished the Canal Zone as a colonial enclave, arranged for Panamanian ownership of the canal in the yearand provided for the closing of American military bases.
Inthe United States intervened in a revolt by Panama dating culture Indians on the northeast Atlantic coast and established a tribal reserve. The Kuna enclave has been successful. In the s, the United States' military hired Kuna laborers to work at army bases. After the transfer of sovereignty over the canal, those workers migrated to Panama City. National Identity.
Panamanians do not consider themselves former Colombians. From toPanama was the seat of a Spanish real audiencia court of chancerywith Spanish lawyers and a governor or captain general. The presence of this judicial-legislative-executive government body led to the building of a sense of independent nationhood. Ethnic Relations. Unlike the former Canal Zone, the government has always repudiated racism and segregation.
Because of its nationalistic policies, the government also forbade the use of English in public schools, thus discriminating against the black population. Survivors of the burning of Panama City in rebuilt a walled bastion on a rocky promontory to the west. This became the home of the colonial administration and the Panama dating culture elite, who lived in two-story mansions. Outside the city walls was a neighborhood of free blacks living in thatched structures.
Panama dating culture out were the cattle ranches and farms of the elite, which were staffed by slaves. The walled city survives as the Casco Viejo, and the areas adjacent to it are now densely populated slums. Because the former Canal Zone abuts the old city on the north and west, the growing population was forced to fan out along the bay to the north and east. On the Panamanian side, city blocks were plotted along radial avenues. Bella Vista, a gracious area of Art Deco mansions for the elites grew up in the s along the bay.
Farther inland there were working-class tenements. On the "Zone" side there was parkland, with occasional housing clusters. The government is transferring that housing to private owners but is committed by treaty to conserve the natural rainforest areas of the former Zone to prevent the canal from silting. A few neighborhoods of upper-class Panama dating culture villas have appeared. Large middle-class subdivisions are being built away from the city center.
There are scattered apartment blocks of public housing for workers. Several shopping malls cater to the needs of a city with heavy traffic and an extensive bus system. This and nearby areas have high-rise offices, hotels, and apartments.
Colon on the Atlantic side is now a lower- and underclass settlement abutting the free trade zone. The largely Jewish, Italian, and Arabic entrepreneurs of that zone live in Panama City high-rises and commute daily in small airplanes. The dominant architectural structure remains the Panama Canal.
Inaugurated Panama dating cultureit is still an engineering wonder in which Panamanians take pride. Food in Daily Life. Unlike other Spanish colonies, Panama's subsistence agriculture never depended on corn. Game and fish were always sources of protein, and corn is eaten mainly in the form of thick cakes called arepas and maize gruel. The Kuna roast bananas and boil them in a soup dish that consists of water squeezed through grated coconut meat, fish, and fowl or a game meat. This dish resembles the sancocho eaten by many non-Indian Panamanians—a soup of poultry or meat cooked with root vegetables and corn.
All the towns and cities have Chinese restaurants, a legacy of the Chinese who came to work on the railroad in the s. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Upper class families are likely to serve fresh seafood at weddings, baptisms, and other celebrations.
Their cooking style tends to be continental. Interioranos, in contrast, value beef. Their traditional Sunday meal is tasajo, smoked and cured beef with the flavor of ham. Basic Economy. Before the native populations practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, growing a variety of root crops. When the urban elite bought rural property, they turned to cattle raising and exported the meat and hides.
Livestock production is still an important economic activity, even on very small landholdings, and parts of the rain forest have been converted into pastureland.
The naturales and Indian groups still practice slash-and-burn agriculture and do not raise cattle. Afro-colonials engage in coastal horticulture and Panama dating culture, as do the Kuna. The unit of currency is the balboa, which is pegged to the United States dollar. Land Tenure and Property. The San Blas Kuna have had a tribal land reserve since the s. Interioranos tend to divide up their holdings among many heirs, so that over time properties become quite small, intensifying migration to the cities and to northern and western frontier areas to clear the rain forest and to claim government forest lands through "squatters' rights.
Some of these are planned, others are spontaneous. Commercial Activities. Interioranos have a system of rural markets and fairs in which locallyowned shops are tied to Chinese Panama dating culture and A Kuna woman applies paint to her face in the San Blas Islands.
Four Indian ethnic groups are officially recognized, including the Kuna. Since the s, Panama has become an international banking center. Major Industries. Panama never had a plantation economy. Today agribusiness specializes in the production of sugar and bananas. The economy relies on transit, transhipping, and banking to earn foreign currency. Panama exports coffee, bananas, beef, and tropical hardwoods. As a major international transshipping center, all types of the world's industrial goods pass through Panama, which keeps or imports electronics, automobiles, and a wide variety of luxury goods.
Panama also imports petroleum, as it has no oil fields. Division of Labor. As of estimates put 18 percent of the labor force in agriculture, another 18 percent in industry, and 67 percent in service. Of these sectors agriculture is the least productive, ing for only 8 percent of the gross national product, with industry at 25 percent and services at 67 percent. Classes and Castes. The urban Creole upper class, known as the rabiblancos "white butts"mingles socially with Americans, Spaniards, Italians, and the oldest Panama dating culture of the Jewish community, the Sephardic Jews, who came to the country in the s.
Prosperous merchants in the small Hindu community worship at a prominent hilltop temple.
The Chinese community includes a few wealthy commercial families, members of the professions, a middle class of shopkeepers, and a few very poor recent immigrants. It is perceived as monolithic.Panama dating culture
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