For over 300 years, the Spanish ruled Panama. Struggles to gain control of many of the Central American countries continued for decades. In 1821, Panama gained independence from Spain only to join what was then Colombia later that same year. In 1846, a treaty between Colombia and the United States was signed, permitting the U.S. to construct a railway across the country.
Panama (/ˈpænəmɑː/ (listen) PAN-ə-mah, /pænəˈmɑː/ pan-ə-MAH; Spanish: Panamá IPA: [panaˈma] (listen)), officially the Republic of Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá), is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.
The city of Panama was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila. The city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the American continent, leading to the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, through which passed most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas.
The United States State Department does not recommend traveling outside of the city due to the lack of accessibility to some areas and the prevalence of organized crime. Within the city, the State Department acknowledges the presence of crimes in the city, some of which include violent acts such as shootings, rape, armed robbery, and intentional kidnapping. The United States State Department also warns tourists about the purchasing of counterfeited or pirated goods, as they may be in violation of local Panamanian laws. In terms of LGBT rights in the city, same sex marriage is not recognized by the government but there are laws in place to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community.
The city has both public and private schools. Most of the private schools are at least bilingual. Higher education is headed by the two major public universities: the University of Panama and the Technological University of Panama. There are private universities, such as the Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua, the Universidad Latina de Panama, the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT), the Distance and Open University of Panama (UNADP), Universidad del Istmo Panama, the Universidad Maritima Internacional de Panama, and the Universidad Especializada de las Americas. Also, there are Panama Branches of the Nova Southeastern University (its main campus is in Ft. Lauderdale in Broward County, Florida); the University of Oklahoma; the Central Texas University; the University of Louisville which runs a sister campus in the city, and the Florida State University, which operates a broad curriculum program in an academic and technological park known as Ciudad del Saber.
Petroleum Minister José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos had power of attorney for an offshore company in 2002, when he became petroleum minister after previously being employed for a number of years as an executive at Sonangol, according to the leaked documents. He denies wrongdoing. ICIJ partner Le Monde says it has seen documents that show he was the proxyholder for Medea Investments Limited, founded in Niue in 2001, and moved to Samoa five years later. The company, which issued only bearer bonds, had a capitalization of $1 million, and closed in 2009. He has never previously been accused of corruption.
As of the census of 2010, there were 36,484 people, 14,792 households, and 8,613 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,245.2 people per square mile (481.3/km2). There were 17,438 housing units at an average density of 595.2 per square mile (230.1/km2). As of the census of 2010, the racial makeup of the city is 71.6% White, 22.0% African American, 1.6% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.9% from two or more races, and 5.1% Hispanic or Latino of any race.