Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said his panel will investigate Sri Lankan names that come up in the Panama Papers, as well as the 46 who appear in the 2013 Offshore Leaks, according to the Daily Mail, since earlier leadership apparently did not do so. The country has many large outstanding foreign loans taken out under the administration of former president Mahinda Rajapakse, and the current government recently had to obtain a US$1.5 billion IMF bailout. Rajapakse has denied diverting funds. The current government came to power in January 2016 on an anti-corruption platform.[382]
Bruno Itoua was the president's advisor on oil and director-general of the SNPC until 2005. A US federal court found that he diverted funds to fictitious companies, but he nonetheless became minister of energy. Panama Papers documents seen by Le Monde reveal he has also held the power of attorney since 2004 for Denvest Capital Strategies and Grafin Associated SA, registered by Mossack Fonseca in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.[444] Itoua is currently minister for scientific research.[444]
Soils are commonly reddish to brown and rich in clay. They vary in fertility, and in many areas crops can be grown continuously only if fertilizers are applied. On poorer soils, a shifting subsistence agriculture is practiced. Under this system small plots are cleared, cropped for a few years, then abandoned until their natural fertility is restored—a practice called roza in Panama.
"John Doe", the whistleblower who leaked the documents to German journalist Bastian Obermayer[7][8] from the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), remains anonymous, even to the journalists who worked on the investigation. "My life is in danger", he told them.[9] In a May 6, 2016, statement, John Doe cited income inequality as the reason for his action, and said he leaked the documents "simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described". He added that he had never worked for any government or intelligence agency and expressed willingness to help prosecutors if granted immunity from prosecution. After SZ verified that the statement did in fact come from the source for the Panama Papers, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) posted the full document on its website.[10][11]

"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]


Leaked documents suggest that Mossack Fonseca helped tuna export company Borda Azul set up a shell company in the British Virgin Islands in order to avoid Costa Rican taxes. The firm, now out of business, was headed by Hermes Navarro, president of the Costa Rican Football Federation from 1999 to 2006.[403] In the late 1990s the Finance Ministry and Prosecutor's Office investigated Borda Azul and other export companies for allegedly misusing tax credit certificates; in 1997 dozens of companies had been accused of using the certificates for fraud and to launder drug profits.[403]
In the late 1970s through the 1980s the city of Panama became an international banking center, bringing a lot of undesirable attention as an international money-laundering locale. In 1989 after nearly a year of tension between the United States and Panama, President George H. W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama to depose General Manuel Noriega, the country's de facto dictator. As a result, a portion of the El Chorrillo neighborhood, which consisted mostly of old wood-framed buildings dating back to the 1900s (though still a large slum area), was destroyed by fire. In 1999, the United States officially transferred control of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama, which remains in control today.[6]
Sergei Roldugin, a cellist with the St Petersburg orchestra who is the godfather of Putin's eldest daughter and who has been described as Putin's "best friend", appears prominently in the Panama Papers. According to the leaked papers, Roldugin acquired assets worth at least $100 million, including a 12.5% stake in Video International (Russia's largest television advertising firm),[237] companies that own stock options for some of Russia's biggest companies and the rights to loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars.[239] In 2008, a company controlled by Roldugin joined with several other offshore companies to help "another Putin insider" acquire control of Kamaz, Russia's largest truck manufacturer, and obtain investment from German carmaker Daimler AG, $250 million for 10% of Kamaz.[239] Sandalwood, another company in which Roldugin and other insiders have an interest was issued lines of credit between 2009 and 2012 worth $800,000 by Russian Commercial Bank (RCB) in Cyprus, then a wholly owned subsidiary of VTB Bank, largely owned by the Russian state.[235] Panama Papers documents indicate that Roldugin companies received several loans with no collateral, or at very low interest rates, or never repaid.[235] In 2013, several shell companies linked to the brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg loaned worth about US$200 million to a company in Roldugin's network. The leaked documents do not show whether they were repaid. Shortly before the loan was granted, Arkady Rotenberg's company had been awarded the tender for the South Stream pipeline project, worth billions.[235] Asked about his companies,[240] Rodulgin said "I have to take a look and find out what I can say and what I can't", and that financial matters are "delicate".[240]
The OECD, the G20, or the European Union could also institute another list for countries that are inadequate in more than one area. Countries meeting none of these criteria, such as Panama, Vanuatu and Lebanon, would go on the blacklist. Countries that meet only one criterion would go on the greylist.[51] In April 2016, if this greylist had been in place it would have included nine countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Brunei, Dominica, Liberia, Nauru, Samoa, Tobago and the United Arab Emirates.[51]
The Panama Papers linked a minister in the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, and the prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, to shell companies in Panama. Furthermore, Mizzi's wife, Sai Mizzi Liang, who is Malta's trade envoy to China and Consul General for Malta in Shanghai, China, was also named as beneficiary, together with their children, of a trust based in New Zealand holding Mizzi's Panama shell company.
The end of the encomienda system in Azuero, however, sparked the conquest of Veraguas in that same year. Under the leadership of Francisco Vázquez, the region of Veraguas passed into Castilian rule in 1558. In the newly conquered region, the old system of encomienda was imposed. On the other hand, the Panamanian movement for independence can be indirectly attributed to the abolition of the encomienda system in the Azuero Peninsula, set forth by the Spanish Crown, in 1558 because of repeated protests by locals against the mistreatment of the native population. In its stead, a system of medium and smaller-sized landownership was promoted, thus taking away the power from the large landowners and into the hands of medium and small-sized proprietors.

Cameron criticized complex offshore structures in 2013, saying that it is "not fair and not right what some [companies] are doing by saying 'I've got lots of sales here in the UK but I'm going to pay a sort of royalty fee to another company that I own in another country that has some special tax dispensation.'" He said he would bring up the issue at the G8 summit that year.[309] At the summit, Cameron demanded more transparency, arguing that it would be better for business.[302] In 2014, Cameron asked all Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies to set up an open register of firms and individuals with investments registered in their jurisdictions, but by the time of the Panama Papers leak in April 2016, only Montserrat and Gibraltar had agreed to do so.[310]
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 city's main retail center was the Panama City Mall until it was permanently closed after Hurricane Michael. It may be turned into an outdoor mall, but this has not been officially confirmed. Another local retail center is the Bay City Pointe, on FL 368 (locally known as 23rd St.), which is still under construction but partially open. Pier Park, on the beach across the Hathaway Bridge spanning St. Andrews Bay, is a third local retail center.
The Bangkok Post reported that the "Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is seeking information from its foreign counterparts regarding twenty-one Thai nationals reportedly included in a list of people worldwide using a Panama-based law firm apparently specializing in money laundering and tax evasion." It is not clear why AMLO is investigating only twenty-one. The Panama Papers include at least 780 names of individuals based in Thailand and another 50 companies based in Thailand. Some are foreigners or foreign-owned companies, but 634 individual addresses in Thailand appear in the documents that have surfaced to date, including the CEOs of giant companies Bangkok Land and Phatra Finance.[386]
Investigations by ICIJ's sole East Asian partner CommonWealth Magazine in Taiwan found that at least 2,725 offshore companies had registered addresses in Taiwan. Ninety Taiwanese, including the singer and actor Nicky Wu, were included in the papers.[387] According to a report released by CommonWealth Magazine, Wu used the firm Horizon Sky Technology, Ltd. to co-operate with Hong Kong-based Sun Entertainment Culture Limited (zh).[388]
The constitution was changed in 1972. For the reform to the constitution[clarification needed] the military created a new organization, the Assembly of Corregimiento Representatives, which replaced the National Assembly. The new assembly, also known as the Poder Popular ("Power of the People"), was composed of 505 members selected by the military with no participation from political parties, which the military had eliminated. The new constitution proclaimed Omar Torrijos the "Maximum Leader of the Panamanian Revolution", and conceded him unlimited power for six years, although, to keep a façade of constitutionality,[citation needed] Demetrio B. Lakas was appointed president for the same period (Pizzurno Gelós and Araúz, Estudios sobre el Panamá republicano 541).[27]
Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, providing it with the water required for its operation. Due to the canal's importance to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state; the canal is thus a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of a forest that helped to preserve that forest. Along the western side of the canal is the Parque Nacional Soberanía (Sovereignty National Park), which includes the Summit botanical gardens and a zoo. The best known trail in this national park is Pipeline Road, popular among birdwatchers.[7]

The city proper has approximately 880,691 inhabitants in 23 boroughs.[25] The inhabitants of Panama City are commonly referred to as capitalinos and include large numbers of Afro-Panamanians, mestizos, and mulattos, with notable white and Asian minorities.[26] There is a great deal of cultural diversity within the city, which manifests itself in the wide variety of languages commonly spoken, such as German, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew and English, in addition to Spanish.[18]

Panama's roads, traffic and transportation systems are generally safe, though night driving is difficult and in many cases, restricted by local authorities. This usually occurs in informal settlements.[62] Traffic in Panama moves on the right, and Panamanian law requires that drivers and passengers wear seat belts.[62] Highways are generally well-developed for a Latin American country.


The Panama Papers linked a minister in the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, and the prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, to shell companies in Panama. Furthermore, Mizzi's wife, Sai Mizzi Liang, who is Malta's trade envoy to China and Consul General for Malta in Shanghai, China, was also named as beneficiary, together with their children, of a trust based in New Zealand holding Mizzi's Panama shell company.
Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, providing it with the water required for its operation. Due to the canal's importance to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state; the canal is thus a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of a forest that helped to preserve that forest. Along the western side of the canal is the Parque Nacional Soberanía (Sovereignty National Park), which includes the Summit botanical gardens and a zoo. The best known trail in this national park is Pipeline Road, popular among birdwatchers.[7]
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]
Located at the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is a quaint unassuming beach town with a pristine downtown area. The expat community numbers several hundred within the total population of just under 5,000. This expat community is growing as visitors have discovered this treasured jewel. Not much further down the two-lane road is Playa Venao, one of Panama’s best surfing beaches. 

"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]

Putin denied "any element of corruption", and said his opponents are trying to destabilize Russia.[245] Putin also said: "WikiLeaks has showed us that official people and official organs of the US are behind this."[246] On 2016's annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, he called the leaked documents "reliable" but confined his comments to Roldugin, saying that Western media did not understand that the musician has spent all his off-shore income on "musical instruments for Russia". Putin also said Goldman Sachs owned shares in the parent company of Süddeutsche Zeitung, which is in fact owned by a Munich family and a German media group.[247] The Kremlin apologized for this "mistake".[248]
The National Mineral Agency (NMA) until 2005 valued diamonds for export using a price book based on 1996 figures. Companies also often seek to minimize the value of their diamond exports to reduce taxes and move profits abroad. Once transferred to a subsidiary elsewhere where their value is not taxed, the same diamonds are frequently worth more.[18]
Newspaper Inkyfada had access to the documents and reported a dozen politicians, former government officials and lawyers had been implicated, as well as a leading media figure. Monday April 4, 2016 it reported that the former secretary-general of the Nidaa Tounes political party, Mohsen Marzouk, who was also the coordinator of the new political party, Machrouu Tounes, was on the point of creating his own account in December 2014, in the first presidential elections. Marzouk had written Mossack Fonseca about a company in the Virgin Islands, emphasizing a desire to hold funds and conduct business overseas. Marzouk denies this and has filed a defamation complaint.[481]
Panama was under Spanish rule for almost 300 years (1538–1821), and became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, along with all other Spanish possessions in South America. From the outset, Panamanian identity was based on a sense of "geographic destiny", and Panamanian fortunes fluctuated with the geopolitical importance of the isthmus. The colonial experience spawned Panamanian nationalism and a racially complex and highly stratified society, the source of internal conflicts that ran counter to the unifying force of nationalism.[19][page needed]
The current wife of former prime minister of Spain Felipe González, María García Vaquero, opened an account in Switzerland for Carmingo Ltd in 2004 in the tax haven of Niue, an island in the South Pacific.[263] The lawyer Cándido Conde-Pumpido Jr., son of former General Prosecutor of Spain and magistrate of the Supreme Court of Spain, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, asked to open a Mossack Fonseca offshore company in 2008, though the transaction wasn't completed[why?]. He had intended the offshore company to be an intermediary in a project to build a skyscraper in the capital of Panama, not to hide money.[264]
In April 2019, the ICIJ and European newspapers reported that the global tally of such payments exceeded one billion USD, and is now at 1.2 billion. In comparison, Great Britain recovered the largest position (253 million), followed by Denmark (237 million), Germany (183 million), Spain (164 million), France (136 million) and Australia (93 million). Colombia with 89 million recuperated the highest amount for South and Central American countries, which were heavily involved in the financial scandal. While investigations are ongoing in Austria, Canada and Switzerland, and more payments are to be expected, many countries are conducting continued inspections of companies and private individuals revealed in the report.[504][505]
The earliest discovered artifacts of indigenous peoples in Panama include Paleo-Indian projectile points. Later central Panama was home to some of the first pottery-making in the Americas, for example the cultures at Monagrillo, which date back to 2500–1700 BC. These evolved into significant populations best known through their spectacular burials (dating to c. 500–900 AD) at the Monagrillo archaeological site, and their beautiful Gran Coclé style polychrome pottery. The monumental monolithic sculptures at the Barriles (Chiriqui) site are also important traces of these ancient isthmian cultures.
As the economic and financial center of the country, Panama City's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism.[14] The economy depends significantly on trade and shipping activities associated with the Panama Canal and port facilities located in Balboa. Panama's status as a convergence zone for capital from around the world due to the canal helped the city establish itself as a prime location for offshore banking and tax planning. Consequently, the economy has relied on accountants and lawyers who help global corporations navigate the regulatory landscape.[15] The city has benefited from significant economic growth in recent years, mainly due to the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal, an increase in real estate investment, and a relatively stable banking sector.[16] There are around eighty banks in the city, at least fifteen of which are local.
The ICIJ investigation of Mossack Fonseca was reported to the Public Ministry. Samid Dan Sandoval, former candidate for mayor of Santiago de Veraguas (2014), filed the legal action against the journalists and all those who had participated. He said the project name damaged the integrity, dignity and sovereignty of the country and that the consortium would have to assume legal responsibility for all damage caused to the Panamanian nation.[151]

The prosperity enjoyed during the first two centuries (1540–1740) while contributing to colonial growth; the placing of extensive regional judicial authority (Real Audiencia) as part of its jurisdiction; and the pivotal role it played at the height of the Spanish Empire – the first modern global empire – helped define a distinctive sense of autonomy and of regional or national identity within Panama well before the rest of the colonies.
More than ever, Panama City is booming with events and activities. Make Panama City your destination and visit the many fine shops, restaurants and exhibits. Discover why Panama City is listed as one of the best art towns in America for Cities with a population of less than 50,000. Year-round events include: The Blessing of the Fleet, an Annual Independence Day Celebration, and Oktoberfest.
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]

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.


The ICIJ's Offshore Leaks Database shows that Portugal had 246 Offshore Entities, 300 Officers, 40 Intermediaries and 175 Addresses linked to the activities described in the Mossack-Fonseca papers,[233] with newspapers reporting the involvement of several politicians, government officials, bankers and company managers.[234] As of May 2017, there were no criminal or judicial consequences for any of the involved.
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.
As of the 2000 census, the city's median household income was $31,572, and the median income for a family was $40,890. Males had a median income of $30,401 versus $21,431 for females. The city's per capita income was $17,830. About 12.1% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.

New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department said that they were working to obtain details of people who have tax residence in the country who may have been involved in arrangements facilitated by Mossack Fonseca.[493] Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, told Radio New Zealand on April 8, 2016 that New Zealand is a well-known tax haven and a "nice front for criminals".[494] New Zealand provides overseas investors with foreign trusts and look-through companies. New Zealand government policy is to not request disclosure of the identity of either the settlor or the beneficiaries of the trust, and thus the ownership remains secret, and as a consequence, thus hiding the assets from the trust-holder's home jurisdictions. These trusts are not taxed in New Zealand. These trusts can then be used to acquire and own New Zealand registered companies, which become a vehicle by which the trust owners can exercise day to day control over their assets. These New Zealand-registered companies can be designed not to make a profit using loans from tax havens and other profit shifting techniques: the result being tax free income with the general respectability that has typically been associated with companies registered in New Zealand.
In 2008–2009, the Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) and its owner Beny Steinmetz paid just $165 million for the mining rights to the northern portion of Simandou mine, located in the Nzérékoré region of Guinea's interior. Soon after, he sold 51 percent of the rights to Vale for $2.5 billion. Rio Tinto, which had previously held the concession, had invested $450 million into infrastructure at the site.[458] Global Witness says BSGR in fact paid nothing for the rights, and the $165 million represents BSGR's self-reported investment in improvements at the site. It adds that either way BSGR's profit exceeded the national budget of Guinea.[459]

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]
Panama City is a city and the county seat of Bay County, Florida, United States. Located along U.S. Route 98, it is the largest city between Tallahassee, Florida and Pensacola, Florida. It is the larger (population-wise) of two principal cities of the Panama City-Lynn Haven, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 36,484. When Panama City was incorporated in 1909, its original city limits were 15th Street (Hwy 98) on the north, Balboa Avenue on the west and Bay Avenue on the east.[citation needed]
The Panama Papers revealed that the Minister of Finance of Andorra, Jordi Cinca, while he was CEO of Orfund SA, maintained an offshore company called Mariette Holdings Inc, until its dissolution in 2002 for fear of discovery of his participation in these businesses. The business activities of Orfund had ties to the blood diamond trade, and the refining and sale of African gold. This company closed shortly before the civil war in Ivory Coast.
A commonly relayed legend in Panama is that there was a fishing village that bore the name "Panamá", which purportedly meant "an abundance of fish", when the Spanish colonizers first landed in the area. The exact location of the village is unknown. The legend is usually corroborated by Captain Antonio Tello de Guzmán's diary entries, who reports landing at an unnamed village while exploring the Pacific coast of Panama in 1515; he only describes the village as a "same small indigenous fishing town". In 1517, Don Gaspar de Espinosa, a Spanish lieutenant, decided to settle a post in the same location Guzmán described. In 1519, Pedrarias Dávila decided to establish the Spanish Empire's Pacific port at the site. The new settlement replaced Santa María La Antigua del Darién, which had lost its function within the Crown's global plan after the Spanish exploitation of the riches in the Pacific began.

The Spanish Royal Family is also involved in this tax scandal: Princess Pilar of Borbón, Duchess of Badajoz, sister of former King Juan Carlos I and aunt of the current King, Felipe VI, had an offshore corporation for 40 years, until the abdication of her brother. She assembled a company called Delantera Financiera, in 1974, and was its president and administrator. She initially denied this when her name appeared in the Panama Papers. Her husband, who died in 1991, was secretary-general of the corporation. His son, Bruno Gomez-Acebes, is treasurer and manager of this company. The name of Amalio de Marichalar [es], the count of Ripalda and the brother of Jaime de Marichalar, the former husband of the king's daughter, Elena de Borbón, also appears.

Located at the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is a quaint unassuming beach town with a pristine downtown area. The expat community numbers several hundred within the total population of just under 5,000. This expat community is growing as visitors have discovered this treasured jewel. Not much further down the two-lane road is Playa Venao, one of Panama’s best surfing beaches.
Paralleling the principal mountain chains, a lower mountain arc extends along Panama’s southern coast. It appears only in well-separated segments—for example, on Azuero Peninsula as the Canajagua Massif and in eastern Panama as the Sierra de Jungurudó, Sapo Mountains, and the Majé Mountains. The highlands and mountains are made up primarily of igneous (volcanic) rocks.
Panama is bounded to the north by the Caribbean Sea (an extension of the Atlantic Ocean) and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. It has an elongated S shape, with its Caribbean coastline stretching some 800 miles (1,290 km) and the Pacific coast some 1,060 miles (1,700 km); however, a line drawn from the Costa Rican frontier in the west to the Colombian border in the east would extend only 480 miles (770 km). The shortest distance across the isthmus is about 30 miles (50 km), from the mouth of the Nergalá (Necategua) River, which flows into the Gulf of San Blas on the Caribbean shore, to the mouth of the Chepo River on the Pacific coast. Nearly as narrow is the portion of the isthmus traversed by the Panama Canal.
The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. Farther east it becomes the Serranía de Tabasará, and the portion of it closer to the lower saddle of the isthmus, where the Panama Canal is located, is often called the Sierra de Veraguas. As a whole, the range between Costa Rica and the canal is generally referred to by geographers as the Cordillera Central.
Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. Its capital, Panama City, is located on the Pacific coast just east of the canal. A cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers tower above whitewashed bungalows, it enjoys a handsome setting and a growing importance as a commercial and financial services centre for the region. However, its economic progress has been hampered periodically by environmental problems and political turmoil.
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