As the Spanish American wars of independence were heating up all across Latin America, Panama City was preparing for independence; however, their plans were accelerated by the unilateral Grito de La Villa de Los Santos (Cry From the Town of Saints), issued on November 10, 1821, by the residents of Azuero without backing from Panama City to declare their separation from the Spanish Empire. In both Veraguas and the capital this act was met with disdain, although on differing levels. To Veraguas, it was the ultimate act of treason, while to the capital, it was seen as inefficient and irregular, and furthermore forced them to accelerate their plans.
DCB Finance, a Virgin Islands-based shell company founded by North Korean banker Kim Chol-sam and British banker Nigel Cowie, also ignored international sanctions and continued to do business with North Korea with the help of the Panamanian firm. The US Treasury Department in 2013 called DCB Finance a front company for Daedong Credit Bank and announced sanctions against both companies for providing banking services to North Korean arms dealer Korea Mining and Development Trading Corporation, attempting to evade sanctions against that country, and helping to sell arms and expand North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. Cowie said the holding company was used for legitimate business and he was not aware of illicit transactions.
A diverse multicultural city of almost 1.3 million, Panama City offers a lot more than an up-close view of the Canal. Shantytowns slink up alongside shiny high-rise condos. The Old City is an atmospheric labyrinth of churches, plazas and palaces. Fifteen miles from downtown Panama City, Soberania National Park is an excellent destination for hiking and birding. For a fascinating look at the canal, take a taxi or local bus to Miraflores Locks Visitor Center and look down on the traffic below.
The bus terminal located in Ancon offers buses in and out of the city. Bus service is one of the most widely used forms of transportation in Panama. The terminal receives thousands of passengers daily from locations like David, Chiriqui, and the central provinces of Herrera and Los Santos. The terminal also receives international passengers from Central America via the Pan-American Highway.
More than 500 banks registered nearly 15,600 shell companies with Mossack Fonseca, with HSBC and its affiliates accounting for more than 2,300 of the total. Dexia and J. Safra Sarasin of Luxembourg, Credit Suisse from the Channel Islands and the Swiss UBS each requested at least 500 offshore companies for their clients. An HSBC spokesman said, "The allegations are historical, in some cases dating back 20 years, predating our significant, well-publicized reforms implemented over the last few years."
Tourism in Panama is rapidly growing. It has maintained its growth over the past five years due to government tax and price discounts to foreign guests and retirees. These economic incentives have caused Panama to be regarded as a relatively good place to retire. Real estate developers in Panama have increased the number of tourism destinations in the past five years because of interest in these visitor incentives.
Long jumper Irving Saladino became the first Panamanian Olympic gold medalist in 2008. In 2012 eight different athletes represented Panama in the London 2012 Olympics: Irving Saladino in the long jump, Alonso Edward and Andrea Ferris in track and field, Diego Castillo in swimming, and the youngest on the team, Carolena Carstens who was 16 competing in taekwondo. She was the first representative to compete for Panama in that sport.
One of the newer tourist areas of the city is the area immediately east of the Pacific entrance of the canal, known as the Amador Causeway. This area is currently being developed as a tourist center and nightlife destination. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a station and a small museum open to the public at Culebra Point on the island of Naos. A new museum, the Biomuseo, was recently completed on the causeway in 2014. It was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Just outside the city limits is the Parque Municipal Summit. A new convention center called the Amador Convention Center is being built in Amador by CSCEC in a joint venture with a Panamanian company called CCG Cocige. The Panamanian ministry of Tourism hopes for the convention center to house 100 international events annually. There were plans(proposed by Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela) to build in Amador a campus for the embassy of the People's Republic of China in Panama, however the plans were eventually dropped, due to criticism from the general public and fears that tourists could easily assume that Panama was Chinese territory. Varela in response said that Amador is an area that "must have more value".