Why Panama?

During the last years, the Republic of Panama has been preferred as a second home by foreigners. The fiscal advantages, the use of the United States Dollar as official currency, the existence of an International Financial Center, modern commercial centers, the excellent communications and the health system are some of the reasons why many foreigners choose Panama to live and invest.

Another benefit we can find in Panama is the increase in the investment value of housings; the country offers a place for every person depending what he is looking: beaches, forests, mountains, islands, rivers, lakes; the Panama Canal, historic sites as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Theater, the Presidency of the Republic, the Religious Art Museum, Reina Torre de Arauz Museum, the Natural Science Museum, the Panama Canal Museum, besides other eco tourism sites such as the International Friendship Park and Volcan National Park, to mention some.

Under construction is the Biodiversity Museum designed by the renowned Architect Frank Ghery, located in the area of Amador of the City of Panama.

General Information

History of Panama: The Isthmus of Panama was discovered in 1501 by Rodrigo de Bastidas and Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who played an important role in the establishment of Santa Maria La Antigua del Darien in 1510, the first permanent settlement in the mainland, in America.

In 1513, Balboa led an expedition into Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Pedro Arias Dávila founded the City of Panama on August 15, 1519.
Panama was a Spanish colony until 1821, when it formed part of Simon Bolivar´s Great Colombia.
In 1903, Panama finished its Alliance with Colombia and became an independent republic.

Geography: The Republic of Panama has an approximate area of 75,990 square kilometers. It is located between Costa Rica and Colombia; being the most narrow and lowest part of the isthmus that joins North America with South America. Panama is famous for its Canal, which unites the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Economy: Panama offers a set of transportation and logistics services targeted towards the world commerce, focused in relation to the Panama Canal.

Located at the Panama Canal are ports for the transshipment of containers, commercial free zones, railways and the largest air transportation center for passengers in Latin America.
It also has the biggest financial center in Latin America and the services offered are interconnected with the world market. This constitutes approximately three quarters of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
The construction of buildings and civil engineering works in the City of Panama have increased in a stable and progressive manner as a result, among other factors, of the American baby boomer, the foreign investment and the need to supply the demand of locals as well as foreigners, permanently or temporarily living in the country.
Tourism has also experienced a boom as a result of the creation and expansion of the airline hub of the region, capable of transporting passengers from any place of origin in Latin America to Panama and from Panama to any destination in the region. The consumption activities such as purchases together with Tourism have allowed the construction of various modern commercial centers in the City of Panama and its vicinities.

Population: The population of Panama is of approximately Three million five hundred thousand (3,500,000) inhabitants, and approximately sixty-four per cent (64%) live in urban areas.
Panama is one of the countries with the highest Human Development, with a score of 0,768 (2011), ranking 58 among 169 countries, and being the country with the best human development in Central America and the sixth in Latin America, this mainly generated by a high index of literacy of 94,5% and schooling of 93,4%.
Panama is one of the most diverse countries ethnically in the world. Its population is composed of mestizo, mulattos, Negroes, Caucasians and Indians, with diverse origins: Chinese, Hindus, Jews, Spanish, Americans, Colombians, Italians, Argentineans, Greeks, French, Arab, Costarican, Mexican, Venezuelan, Antilleans, Dominicans, Chileans, among others.
In relation to the ethnic distribution, 68% of Panamanians are mestizo, 15% are Caucasians, 10% are Negroes, 6% are Indians and 1% is Asian, the latter mainly from Chinese descendents.

Government: The Public Power is of the people and is exercised by three Bodies: Legislative, Executive and Judicial, harmonized in the separation, united in cooperation and limited by the duties assigned in the Political Constitution of Panama of 1972, amended by the Reformatory Acts of 1978 and the Constitutional Act of 1983, which presents a unitary, republican, democratic and representative government.
Presently, the executive body of the Government is composed by a President and a Vice-President, elected for a period of five years by direct election.
The country has a firmly established democracy, a legal system based in the Constitution of 1972, which is politically stable and with a continuously developing economy.

INFRASTRUCTURE AND ECONOMY

The Colon Free Zone: The Colon Free Zone is located in the Caribbean part of the Isthmus of Panama, near the entrance to the Panama Canal at the Caribbean Sea.

This commercial free zone is the second largest in the world, following Hong Kong.

The operations and transactions carried out at the Free Zone are subject to a special tax regime whereby importations from other parts of the world and re-exportations to other countries are exempted from any tax on importation or exportation encumbered by Panama.
Incomes obtained from the re-exportation are encumbered at specially reduced rates.

Panama Canal Area: On December 31, 1999, the United States of America transferred the Panama Canal to the new Panama Canal Authority. This date defines a new stage for Panama.
The reverted areas consist of an excellent real property of 233,000 acres and more than 7,000 commercial and residential buildings.
As a result of this transfer of land, there are unique investment opportunities in the tourism, maritime, real estate, transportation and industry areas.

Ports: Approximately 14,000 ships transit the Panama Canal each year with more than 192 million tons of cargo and 700,000 passengers and crew members on board. Due to this traffic and the modern port installations, it is expected for Panama to become the main multimodal logistic center of the region in the coming years. Today, Panama has the biggest maritime fleet of the world and its four (4) new container ports represent a total investment of US$4.5 thousand million. It is foreseen that the ports, together with the railroads crossing the isthmus, will move one (1) million containers of cargo in 1999, and two (2) million for the year 2002. The main opportunities for the development of the new business include: additional ports, yards and maritime services such as storage, distribution and transportation of cargo; financial and administrative services, insurance coverage, provision and maintenance of ships, as well as tourist companies.

Financial Industry: Panama has the most modern and successful international banking center of Latin America, with more than 120 banks of 35 countries. The new banking law of Panama complies with the standards of the main financial centers worldwide in matters of transparency and regulations. The Panama Stock Exchange is the fastest growing stock exchange in the region. Moreover, Panama is one of the safest offshore centers in the world. In the financial industry, there are diverse opportunities in banking, financing of investment capital, insurance and reinsurance.

Language

Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken in the urban areas and is used daily in the local and international commerce.

Currency

The Balboa is the national currency; however it is at par with the Dollar of the United States of America, which is of free circulation in the country.