Since 1914 the 51-mile- (82-km-) long Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has afforded a long-sought shortcut for shipping and assures the country’s standing as one of the most strategic transportation hubs of the world. The canal also secures Panama’s ongoing role in international affairs and world commerce. The United States relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal on December 31, 1999, marking an unprecedented shift in Panamanian society. For the first time in nearly a century as an independent nation, Panama controlled the entirety of its national territory.

^ Robert Cribb; Marco Chown Oved (April 4, 2016). "How offshore banking is costing Canada billions of dollars a year: An unprecedented leak of secretive offshore tax-haven data contains stunning new revelations about the diversion of wealth from government coffers to hidden bank accounts". Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
Because of incomplete Spanish control, the Panama route was vulnerable to attack from pirates (mostly Dutch and English), and from "new world" Africans called cimarrons who had freed themselves from enslavement and lived in communes or palenques around the Camino Real in Panama's Interior, and on some of the islands off Panama's Pacific coast. One such famous community amounted to a small kingdom under Bayano, which emerged in the 1552 to 1558. Sir Francis Drake's famous raids on Panama in 1572–73 and John Oxenham's crossing to the Pacific Ocean were aided by Panama cimarrons, and Spanish authorities were only able to bring them under control by making an alliance with them that guaranteed their freedom in exchange for military support in 1582.[20]
Prominent politicians criticized the involvement of the Cameron family in the scandal; Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn urged an immediate independent investigation into the tax affairs of Cameron's family as well as tighter laws on UK tax avoidance.[323] Opponents also called for Cameron's resignation after he admitted owning shares in Blairmore.[324]
Varuzhan Hotkanian, head of the Armenian branch of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, said that perhaps Poghosian was forced to resign by the country's leadership, since the evidence pointed directly to him. But, he said, he still questions the government's commitment to fighting corruption.[172] Leading opposition figure Levon Zourabian demanded answers on the matter from the floor of Parliament.[173]
Tyndall Air Force Base is east of the city. The HHT 1-153 CAV is stationed there. It is part of Florida Army National Guard's 53rd Infantry Brigade. The city is also home to the U.S. Navy's Naval Support Activity Panama City which is home to various research and training projects. The city is also 60-90 minutes south of Fort Rucker, Alabama, home to the US Army's Aviation Center of Excellence.

The definite origin of the name Panama is unknown. There are several theories. One states that the country was named after a commonly found species of tree (Sterculia apetala, the Panama tree). Another states that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies are abundant, and that the name means "many butterflies" in one or several of indigenous Amerindian languages that were spoken in the territory prior to Spanish colonization. The most scientifically corroborated theory by Panamanian linguists, states that the word is a hispanicization of Kuna language word "bannaba" which means "distant" or "far away".[14]

Frederik Obermaier, co-author of the Panama Papers story and an investigative reporter at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, told Democracy Now: "Mossack Fonseca realised that Makhlouf was the cousin, and they realised that he was sanctioned, and they realised that he's allegedly one of the financiers of the Syrian regime. And they said, 'Oh, there is this bank who still does business with him, so we should still keep with him, as well'."[102]

Since the end of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship in 1989, Panama has successfully completed five peaceful transfers of power to opposing political factions. The political landscape is dominated by two major parties and many smaller parties, many of which are driven by individual leaders more than ideologies. Former President Martín Torrijos is the son of general Omar Torrijos. He succeeded Mireya Moscoso, the widow of Arnulfo Arias. Panama's most recent national elections occurred on May 4, 2014, with incumbent vice-President Juan Carlos Varela declared the victor. The 2019 Panamanian general election is scheduled for May 5, 2019, with current President Juan Carlos Varela being ineligible due to constitutional limits for a second term.
The definite origin of the name Panama is unknown. There are several theories. One states that the country was named after a commonly found species of tree (Sterculia apetala, the Panama tree). Another states that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies are abundant, and that the name means "many butterflies" in one or several of indigenous Amerindian languages that were spoken in the territory prior to Spanish colonization. The most scientifically corroborated theory by Panamanian linguists, states that the word is a hispanicization of Kuna language word "bannaba" which means "distant" or "far away".[14]
Many of the expats here also cite Panama’s geographical diversity and location, with proximity to North America being a major factor. In a country roughly the size of South Carolina, you’ll find mountains and beaches within an easy striking distance—no matter where in the country you are. Wake up on the Caribbean and have lunch overlooking the Pacific…they’re a couple of hours apart at the isthmus’ “skinniest” sections. Choose your preferred climate, topography, population density and more in Panama’s varied landscape.
The US influence in Panama can be seen in the country's sports. Baseball is Panama's national sport and the country has regional teams and a national team that represents it in international events. At least 140 Panamanian players have played professional baseball in the United States, more than any other Central American country.[89] Notable players include Bruce Chen, Rod Carew, Mariano Rivera, Carlos Lee, Manny Sanguillén, and Carlos Ruiz.
Since the end of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship in 1989, Panama has successfully completed five peaceful transfers of power to opposing political factions. The political landscape is dominated by two major parties and many smaller parties, many of which are driven by individual leaders more than ideologies. Former President Martín Torrijos is the son of general Omar Torrijos. He succeeded Mireya Moscoso, the widow of Arnulfo Arias. Panama's most recent national elections occurred on May 4, 2014, with incumbent vice-President Juan Carlos Varela declared the victor. The 2019 Panamanian general election is scheduled for May 5, 2019, with current President Juan Carlos Varela being ineligible due to constitutional limits for a second term.
The Procuraduría de la Nación announced that it would investigate Mossack Fonseca and the Panama papers.[146] On April 12, the newly formed Second Specialized Prosecutor against Organized Crime raided Mossack Fonseca and searched their Bella Vista office as part of the investigation initiated by the Panama Papers. The Attorney General's office issued a press release following the raid, which lasted 27 hours,[147] stating that the purpose was "to obtain documents relevant to the information published in news articles that establishes the possible use of the law firm in illegal activities".[148] The search ended without measures against the law firm, confirmed prosecutor Javier Caraballo of the Second Prosecutor Against Organized Crime.[149]
In addition to these tourist attractions, Panama City offers many different options when it comes to hotel accommodations, including the first Waldorf Astoria hotel to open in Latin America, and many small boutique style hotels that have smaller numbers of guest rooms and offer a more intimate vacation. Nightlife in the city is centered around the Calle Uruguay and Casco Viejo neighborhoods. These neighborhoods contain a variety of different bars and nightclubs that cater to the tourists visiting the city.[33]
Mossack Fonseca documents provide new insight and confirmation for a previously-litigated tax case where an offshore company transferred its registration to avoid paying capital gains tax in Uganda.[482] The documents show that Heritage Oil and Gas Limited (HOGL) knew in advance of a capital gains tax that Uganda planned to enact. HOGL was then operating in Uganda and planned to sell half its Ugandan assets. It "urgently"[483] moved its registration from the Bahamas to Mauritius to avoid the tax.[482] Mauritius has a double taxation agreement with Uganda, meaning that HOGL would pay tax in only one of the two countries.[482] But Mauritius does not have a capital gains tax, so by moving there Heritage reduced its capital gains tax to zero.[484] Emails clearly show that this was the reason for the transfer, although company attorneys deny it.[482]
Because of the city's position on St. Andrews Bay, bridges are very important to the area, and most directions into or out of the city require the use of one of three large bridges to cross parts of the bay. These are the Bailey Bridge to the north on Hwy 77, the Dupont Bridge to the south on Hwy 98 and the Hathaway Bridge to the west on Hwy 98. The largest of these is the Hathaway Bridge, which is the only direct connection between the beach side of Panama City, otherwise known as Panama City Beach .
In 2010, HOGL sold its 50 percent stake in Ugandan oil fields to Tullow Uganda for US$1.5 billion.[482] The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) applied a US$404 million capital gains tax on the transaction and HOGL refused to pay.[482] A four-year battle in various courts ensued. Ugandan officials, including President Yoweri Museveni and the then-URA Commissioner-General Allen Kagina demanded the payment from Tullow, threatening not to renew its exploration licenses, which were about to expire, unless it deducted the tax from its payment to Heritage and remitted it to the URA.[482] Eventually Tullow made a down payment and deposited the rest in escrow, pending legal resolution of its appeal, which came in 2013. Tullow also successfully sued HOGL to recover taxes they had paid on its behalf.[482]
A hearing on October 18, 2017 resulted in an indictment for Sharif,[365] who has faced allegations of corruption since the 1980s. The Panama Papers corroborated a federal inquiry in the mid-1990s and name both Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother, Punjab chief minister Shebaz Sharif. They also link in-laws of Shebaz Sharif and children of Nawaz Sharif to offshore companies.[366][364] Mossack Fonseca records tie Nawaz' daughter Maryam Nawaz and her brothers Hussein and Hassan to four offshore companies, Nescoll Limited, Nielson Holdings Limited, Coomber Group Inc., and Hangon Property Holdings Limited.[367] The companies acquired luxury real estate in London during 2006–2007. The real estate was collateral for loans of up to $13.8 million, according to the Panama Papers.[368] The prime minister's children say the money came from the sale of a family business in Saudi Arabia.[368] But these offshore companies and assets were not disclosed on his family's wealth statement and the suspicion that the companies were meant to hide or launder ill-gotten wealth or to avoid taxes called Sharif's ethics into question.[364]
Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn said "The government needs to stop pussyfooting around on tax dodging"[311] and called for "direct rule" to be imposed over British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies that act as tax havens.[312] Former Business Secretary Vince Cable agreed, although former attorney general Dominic Grieve described the proposal as a "bit of a nuclear option"[313] which would "destroy the livelihoods" of BVI inhabitants in the finance industry.[314] The Labour Party also said that Cameron's planned "anti-corruption" summit in May[315] would be "a charade" if Cameron, as chairman of the summit, did not require representatives of all Crown dependencies and overseas territories to attend.[316]
Panama was inhabited by indigenous tribes before Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century. It broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela. After Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada eventually became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the construction of the Panama Canal to be completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. The 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties led to the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama on December 31, 1999.[9]
According to Professor Rodrigo Miró, the first story about Panama was written by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés and published as part of the Historia General y Natural de Las Indias in 1535. Some poets and novelists born in Panamá city are Manuel María Ayala (1785–1824), Amelia Denis de Icaza (1836–1911), Darío Herrera (1870–1914), Ricardo Miró (1883–1940), Gaspar Octavio Hernández (1893–1918), Demetrio Korsi (1899–1957), Ricardo Bermúdez (1914–2000), Joaquín Beleño (1922–88), Ernesto Endara (1932–), Diana Morán (1932–87), José Córdova (1937–), Pedro Rivera (1939–), Moravia Ochoa López (1941–), Roberto Fernández Iglesias (1941–), Juan David Morgan (1942 –), Jarl Ricardo Babot (1946–), Giovanna Benedetti (1949–), Manuel Orestes Nieto (1951–), Moisés Pascual (1955–), Héctor Miguel Collado (1960–), David Robinson Orobio (1960–), Katia Chiari (1969–), Carlos Oriel Wynter Melo (1971–), José Luis Rodríguez Pittí (1971–), Arturo Wong Sagel (1980–) and Sofía Santim (1982–).[32]

Ethnic groups in Panama include Mestizo people, who have a mix of European and native ancestry. Black Afro-Panamanians account for 15–20 percent of the population. Most Afro-Panamanians live on the Panama-Colón metropolitan area, the Darien Province, La Palma, and Bocas Del Toro. Neighborhoods in Panama City that have large black populations include: Curundu, El Chorrillo, Rio Abajo, San Joaquín, El Marañón, San Miguelito, and Santa Ana.[citation needed] Black Panamanians are descendants of African slaves brought to the Americas in the Atlantic Slave Trade. The second wave of black people brought to Panama came from the Caribbean during the construction of the Panama Canal. Panama also has a considerable Chinese and Indian (India) population brought to work on the canal during its construction. Most Chinese-Panamanians reside in the province of Chiriquí.[citation needed] Europeans and white-Panamanians are a minority in Panama. Panama is also home to a small Arab community that has mosques, practises Islam, as well as a Jewish community and many synagogues.
In Panama, nature is all about discovery. Explore the ruins of Spanish forts on the Caribbean coast or boat deep into indigenous territories in a dugout canoe. Wildlife is incidental: a resplendent quetzal on the highland trail, an unruly troupe of screeching howler monkeys outside your cabin or a breaching whale that turns your ferry ride into an adrenaline-filled event. Adventure tourism means zipping through rainforest canopies, swimming alongside sea turtles or trekking to sublime cloud-forest vistas. One small tropical country with two long coasts makes for a pretty big playground.

Among others, the documents named close associates of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the father of Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and relatives of President Xi Jinping of China and members of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee. Articles published by news organizations in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists also named King Salman of Saudi Arabia; Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who resigned as prime minister of Iceland after the revelations; President Mauricio Macri of Argentina; and the soccer star Lionel Messi, one of the world’s wealthiest athletes.


Rodrigo de Bastidas sailed westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, and became the first European to explore the isthmus of Panama. A year later, Christopher Columbus visited the isthmus, and established a short-lived settlement in the Darien. Vasco Núñez de Balboa's tortuous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 demonstrated that the isthmus was indeed the path between the seas, and Panama quickly became the crossroads and marketplace of Spain's empire in the New World. Gold and silver were brought by ship from South America, hauled across the isthmus, and loaded aboard ships for Spain. The route became known as the Camino Real, or Royal Road, although it was more commonly known as Camino de Cruces (Road of Crosses) because of the number of gravesites along the way.

Former Sudanese President Ahmed al-Mirghani was a client of Mossack Fonseca also.[454] Al-Mirghani lived in Egypt after the 1989 coup that ended his presidency and was active in the Democratic Unionist Party.[454] Orange Star Corporation bought a long-term lease in a tony London neighborhood near Hyde Park for $600,000 the same year al-Mirghani created it, and at the time of his death held assets worth $2.72 million.[454]


Panama's tropical environment supports an abundance of plants. Forests dominate, interrupted in places by grasslands, scrub, and crops. Although nearly 40% of Panama is still wooded, deforestation is a continuing threat to the rain-drenched woodlands. Tree cover has been reduced by more than 50 percent since the 1940s. Subsistence farming, widely practised from the northeastern jungles to the southwestern grasslands, consists largely of corn, bean, and tuber plots. Mangrove swamps occur along parts of both coasts, with banana plantations occupying deltas near Costa Rica. In many places, a multi-canopied rain forest abuts the swamp on one side of the country and extends to the lower reaches of slopes on the other.
Because of the city's position on St. Andrews Bay, bridges are very important to the area, and most directions into or out of the city require the use of one of three large bridges to cross parts of the bay. These are the Bailey Bridge to the north on Hwy 77, the Dupont Bridge to the south on Hwy 98 and the Hathaway Bridge to the west on Hwy 98. The largest of these is the Hathaway Bridge, which is the only direct connection between the beach side of Panama City, otherwise known as Panama City Beach .
The Caribbean coastline is marked by several natural harbors. However, Cristóbal, at the Caribbean terminus of the canal, had the only important port facilities in the late 1980s. The numerous islands of the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro, near the Beaches of Costa Rica, provide an extensive natural roadstead and shield the banana port of Almirante. The more than 350 San Blas Islands near Colombia, are strung out over more than 160 kilometres (99 miles) along the sheltered Caribbean coastline.
According to Senegalese daily Libération, the money-laundering unit Tracfin became interested in 2006 in a €300,000 payment from Groupe Marck, a French company specializing in military uniforms and anti-riot gear, to a Monaco-based entity called Citp. Citp was managed by Kane, a close friend of the president's chief of staff, Maixent Accrombessi, himself held in Paris and interrogated in August 2015. French officials wanted to ask Accrombessi about a contract between Marck and the Gabonese Ministry of the Interior for €7 million. The head of Marck, Philippe Belin, was also held and questioned. The investigation was assigned to Roger Le Loire [fr], who also conducted the so-called "ill-gotten goods" investigation, which targeted a number of African leaders including the father and predecessor of Ali Bongo Ondimba, the current president of Gabon.[31]

Also in 2005, Zacharias (Zacky) Nujoma, youngest son of Sam Nujoma, set up two holding companies, Avila Investments and Marbella Investments, and licensed them to buy and cut diamonds. Shortly afterwards 90% of the stock was transferred to Diamond Ocean.[209] In 2006 Nujoma established Ancash Investments, which obtained seven exclusive uranium prospecting licenses.[209] Palazzolo loaned the company US$10 million.[209] Canadian mining company announced it would partner with Ancash in its uranium contracts and said it based its decision in part on Ancash's strong international support in Natural Earth International Ltd. of Hong Kong.[209] Natural Earth is another Deutsche Investment company.[209]
In 2018, investigative media Bivol.bg accessed the Panama Papers under an agreement with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.[175] Later, they published a story about the offshore company Viafot which is attempting to acquire a key asset of Bulgaria's defense industry: the arms producer Dunarit.[176] The Panama Papers show that Viafot is owned by Alexander Angelov who is the lawyer of media mogul Delyan Peevski. Other Bulgarian media had reported how all state institutions help Viafot acquire Dunarit through illegitimate means.[177][178] However, no inquiry was opened by Bulgaria's General Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.

Canadians for Tax Fairness had calculated that legal tax avoidance by corporations alone cost the Canadian treasury almost $8 billion Canadian a year.[401] When it calculated the 2015 numbers, they found that corporations and individuals combined sent CAN$40 billion of declared assets to tax havens, and the ten most popular alone now held $270 billion Canadian in assets.[402]
Over £10 million of cash from the sale of the gold stolen in the 1983 Brink's-Mat robbery was laundered, first unwittingly and later with the complicity of Mossack Fonseca, through a Panamanian company, Feberion Inc. The company was set up on behalf of an unnamed client twelve months after the robbery. The Brinks money was put through Feberion and other front companies, through banks in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Jersey, and the Isle of Man. It issued bearer shares only. Two nominee directors from Sark were appointed to Feberion by Jersey-based offshore specialist Centre Services.[93] The offshore firms recycled the funds through land and property transactions in the United Kingdom.[93] Although the Metropolitan Police Service raided the offices of Centre Services in late 1986 in cooperation with Jersey authorities, and seized papers and two Feberion bearer shares, it wasn't until 1995 that Brink's-Mat's solicitors were finally able to take control of Feberion and the assets.[93]
Canadians for Tax Fairness had calculated that legal tax avoidance by corporations alone cost the Canadian treasury almost $8 billion Canadian a year.[401] When it calculated the 2015 numbers, they found that corporations and individuals combined sent CAN$40 billion of declared assets to tax havens, and the ten most popular alone now held $270 billion Canadian in assets.[402]
In 2010, HOGL sold its 50 percent stake in Ugandan oil fields to Tullow Uganda for US$1.5 billion.[482] The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) applied a US$404 million capital gains tax on the transaction and HOGL refused to pay.[482] A four-year battle in various courts ensued. Ugandan officials, including President Yoweri Museveni and the then-URA Commissioner-General Allen Kagina demanded the payment from Tullow, threatening not to renew its exploration licenses, which were about to expire, unless it deducted the tax from its payment to Heritage and remitted it to the URA.[482] Eventually Tullow made a down payment and deposited the rest in escrow, pending legal resolution of its appeal, which came in 2013. Tullow also successfully sued HOGL to recover taxes they had paid on its behalf.[482]
Casco Antiguo displays a mix of architectural styles that reflect the country's cultural diversity: Caribbean, Republican, art deco, French, and colonial architecture mix in a site comprising around 800 buildings. Most of Panama City's main monuments are located in Casco Antiguo, including the Salón Bolivar, the National Theater (founded in 1908), Las Bóvedas, and Plaza de Francia. There are also many Catholic buildings, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the La Merced Church, and the St. Philip Neri Church. The distinctive golden altar at St. Joseph Church was one of the few items saved from Panama Viejo during the 1671 pirate siege. It was buried in mud during the siege and then secretly transported to its present location.
"This is a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness of leaktivism", said Micah White, co-founder of Occupy, "... the Panama Papers are being dissected via an unprecedented collaboration between hundreds of highly credible international journalists who have been working secretly for a year. This is the global professionalization of leaktivism. The days of WikiLeaks amateurism are over."[79]
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