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An Introduction to the Republic of Panama

Panama, officially the Republic of Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá), is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Panama City.

Map of Panama

Map of Panama

Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela — named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama and Nueva Granada stayed joined. Nueva Granada later became the Republic of Colombia.

With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the Panama Canal to be built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama by the end of the century.

Revenue from Canal tolls represent today a significant portion of Panama’s GDP. Panama has the third or fourth largest economy in Central America and it is also the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America. In 2010 Panama ranked 4th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index, and 54th in the world in 2010. As of 2010, Panama is the second most competitive economy in Latin America as well according to the Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Panama has the largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere outside the Amazon Basin and its jungle is home to an abundance of tropical plants, animals and birds — some of them to be found nowhere else in the world.

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Flag of Panama

Flag of Panama

Flag of Panama

The flag of Panama was made by Maria Ossa de Amador. It has been officially adopted by the “ley 48 de 1925″; the flag is celebrated on November 4, one day after Panamanian independence from Colombia.

The first flag proposed in 1823 consisted of 7 horizontal stripes of red and yellow, with a blue canton containing 2 golden suns, joined by a narrow line to depict the oceans to be united by the Panama Canal. However, this was not accepted by the Panamanian leader, Manuel Amador Guerrero, whose family designed a new flag.

The stars and quarters are said to stand for the rival political parties, and the white for the peace in which they operate. Blue was the color of the Conservatives, and red the color of the Liberals.

History

Bunau-Varilla Proposal

Bunau-Varilla Proposed Flag of Panama

Reconstruction of the Bunau Varilla design

The Frenchman Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla designed the first serious proposal for a Panamanian flag.

Bunau-Varilla’s design is based on the Flag of the United States, possibly on account of that country’s hand in Panamanian independence.

Retaining the thirteen stripes, he changed the white stripes to yellow, emphasizing the Panamanian connection to Colombia and Spain (whose flags both prominently feature red and yellow). Varilla replaced the stars in the blue canton with two interconnected yellow suns; the suns represent North and South America, and are connected because of Panama’s position connecting the two continents.

Bunau-Varilla’s proposal was rejected by the Panamanian revolutionary council on the grounds that it was designed by a foreigner.

Maria Ossa de Amador Proposal

The current Panamanian flag was made by Maria Ossa de Amador on November 1, 1903. The son of Manuel Amador Guerrero, generally recognized as a skillful drawer, sketched the flag and showed it to Maria Ossa de Amador, who, after much difficulty in avoiding the Colombian army, eventually produced three copies of the flag, which were all eventually flown in Panama City upon independence, and distributed widely.

Description

The Panamanian government officially described the flag in Law 15 of December 1949, as follows: The Flag of the Republic consists thus of a divided rectangle of four quarters: the upper field close to the pole white with a blue star of five points; the upper field further from the pole, red; the lower field near the pole, blue; and the lower one further from the pole, white with a red star of five points.

This flag was to reflect the political situation of the time. The blue was intended to represent the Conservative Party and the red to represent the Liberal Party. The white was intended to stand for peace and purity; the blue star stands for the purity and honesty of the life of the country; the red star represents the authority and law in the country; and together the stars stand for the new republic.