For expats from the U.S., Panama is also convenient because the currency is the U.S. dollar. No matter where you’re from, you’re likely to appreciate the fact that there are many English speakers in Panama, especially among the well-trained medical community. The hub that is Tocumen International Airport makes it easy to fly from Panama to nearly anywhere in the world…often with no layovers.
Revenue from canal tolls continues to represent a significant portion of Panama's GDP, although commerce, banking, and tourism are major and growing sectors. It is regarded as a high-income country.[10] In 2015 Panama ranked 60th in the world in terms of the Human Development Index.[11] In 2018, Panama was ranked seventh-most competitive economy in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index.[12] Covering around 40 percent of its land area, Panama's jungles are home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals – some of them found nowhere else on earth.[13] Panama is a founding member of the United Nations and other international organizations such as OAS, LAIA, G77, WHO and NAM.
The firm is Panamanian but runs a worldwide operation. Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
The US on the other hand refused to sign on to the Common Reporting Standard set up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, alongside Vanuatu and Bahrain.[414] This means the US receives tax and asset information for American assets and income abroad, but does not share information about what happens in the United States with other countries, which in other words means that the United States has become attractive as a tax haven.
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.[107] 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."[111]
The Río Chepo, another source of hydroelectric power, is one of the more than 300 rivers emptying into the Pacific. These Pacific-oriented rivers are longer and slower-running than those on the Caribbean side. Their basins are also more extensive. One of the longest is the Río Tuira, which flows into the Golfo de San Miguel and is the nation's only river that is navigable by larger vessels.
The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities.[1][2] The documents, some dating back to the 1970s, were created by, and taken from, Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca,[3] and were leaked in 2015 by an anonymous source.[4]
According to ICIJ investigative partners DataBaseAR and Seminario Universidad, Mossack Fonseca helped Borda Azul fabricate invoices to allow it to report both inflated costs—to reduce its taxes—and inflated exports, to allow it to continue to qualify for the tax credit certificates. In a letter dated October 19, 1998, a Mossack Fonseca lawyer explained the investigation to the Panama City office and concluded:
Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a former vice president of Iraq, owned property through Mossack Fonseca shell companies registered in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, for security reasons following an assassination attempt, according to his spokesperson, who added that any income from the properties was reported and taxes paid "promptly and on time."[87]
According to ICIJ investigative partners DataBaseAR and Seminario Universidad, Mossack Fonseca helped Borda Azul fabricate invoices to allow it to report both inflated costs—to reduce its taxes—and inflated exports, to allow it to continue to qualify for the tax credit certificates. In a letter dated October 19, 1998, a Mossack Fonseca lawyer explained the investigation to the Panama City office and concluded:

The Christmas parade, known as El desfile de Navidad, is celebrated in the capital, Panama City. This holiday is celebrated on December 25. The floats in the parade are decorated in the Panamanian colors, and women wear dresses called pollera and men dress in traditional montuno. In addition, the marching band in the parade, consisting of drummers, keeps crowds entertained. In the city, a big Christmas tree is lit with Christmas lights, and everybody surrounds the tree and sings Christmas carols.[86]

Finance Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez said Costa Rica will push to sign a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Panama.[404] Legislators from several parties are trying to line up political consensus to seek approval of the administration's tax fraud bill and to form a legislative commission to investigate those named in the Panama Papers, according to Emilia Molina Cruz of the Citizens' Action Party.[404] While opposition parties have maintained that the country's financial problems stem from excess spending, according to the Finance Department, the sums Costa Rica loses to tax evasion equal about 8% of the country's gross domestic product, while its deficits have run at about 6%.[404]
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]
Mounir Majidi, personal secretary of King Mohammed VI was designated in March 2006 as the representative of SMCD Limited created in 2005 through Geneva financial advisor Dextima Conseils. According to the ICIJ, through SMCD Majidi bought the "Aquarius W", a 1930s-era luxury sailboat, which was then registered in Morocco as "El Boughaz", belonging to the king. SMCD, according to the ICIJ, also made a loan to a Luxembourg company, Logimed Investissements Co SARL, for which details are not available. Following this loan, SMCD was liquidated in 2013.[462]
The Río Chagres is one of the longest and most vital of the approximately 150 rivers that flow into the Caribbean. Part of this river was dammed to create Gatun Lake, which forms a major part of the transit route between the locks near each end of the canal. Both Gatun Lake and Madden Lake (also filled with water from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity to the former Canal Zone area. The Río Chepo, another major source of hydroelectric power, is one of the more than 300 rivers emptying into the Pacific.
With a plethora of deserted islands, chilled Caribbean vibes on one side and monster Pacific swells on the other, Panama sits poised to deliver the best of beach life. And a whole other world begins at the water's edge. Seize it by scuba diving with whale sharks in the Pacific, snorkeling the rainbow reefs of Bocas del Toro or setting sail in the indigenous territory of Guna Yala, where virgin isles sport nary a footprint. Meanwhile surfers will be psyched to have world-class breaks all to themselves. Hello, paradise.
The firm won’t discuss specific cases of alleged wrongdoing, citing client confidentiality. But it robustly defends its conduct. Mossack Fonseca says it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and carries out thorough due diligence on all its clients. It says it regrets any misuse of its services and tries actively to prevent it. The firm says it cannot be blamed for failings by intermediaries, who include banks, law firms and accountants.
Of Panama’s many short rivers, those that flow to the Caribbean include the Sixaola, Changuinola, Indio, Cricamola, La Miel, and Chagres. Rivers flowing to the Pacific include the Chiriquí Viejo, Santa María, Chepo, Chucunaque, and Tuira. During the rainy season the Tuira is navigable for some 40 miles (60 km) and the Chepo for 20 miles (30 km). Water in the Panama Canal does not flow from coast to coast; rather, it is released from the rain-fed Gatún and Alajuela (Madden) lakes in the central highlands. In effect, the water flows to both coasts simultaneously via the canal’s system of locks and dams. For details on the engineering and operation of the waterway, see Panama Canal.

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]
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]

Panama is a four-hour flight from Houston, eleven-and-a-half-hour flight from Paris, and a five-hour flight from Toronto making Panama easily accessible. Copa, Panama’s own airline flies to many of Caribbean destinations as well as flights to the United States. As Panama becomes more and more popular with travelers, Tocumen is adding new terminals and gates to allow airlines to establish new routes into the country.
DCB Finance, a Virgin Islands-based shell company founded by North Korean banker Kim Chol-sam[104] and British banker Nigel Cowie,[105] 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,[104] 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.[105]

With many U.S. states allowing medical marijuana or related products, the plant has become a go-to remedy to ease a variety of symptoms and conditions. We’ve had significant reader interest in how the countries International Living covers are dealing with this issue. The concern: If I settle in a certain country, can I continue to use medical marijuana...


Mossack Fonseca also ran six businesses for Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, despite US sanctions against him.[101] Internal Mossack Fonseca documents show that in 2011 Mossack Fonseca rejected a recommendation by their own compliance team to sever ties to Mr. Makhlouf. They agreed to do so only months later. The firm has said it never knowingly allowed anyone connected with rogue regimes to use its companies.[99]
Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of Panama, said in an op-ed piece published April 21 in The Guardian that President Juan Carlos Varela and his administration have strengthened Panama's controls over money-laundering in the twenty months they have been in power, and that "Panama is setting up an independent commission, co-chaired by the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, to evaluate our financial system, determine best practices, and recommend measures to strengthen global financial and legal transparency. We expect its findings within the next six months, and will share the results with the international community."[131]
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]

The United States government said Operation Just Cause, which began on December 20, 1989, was "necessary to safeguard the lives of U.S. citizens in Panama, defend democracy and human rights, combat drug trafficking, and secure the neutrality of the Panama Canal as required by the Torrijos–Carter Treaties" (New York Times, A Transcript of President Bush's Address n.p.).[33] Human Rights Watch wrote in its 1989 report: "Washington turned a blind eye to abuses in Panama for many years until concern over drug trafficking prompted indictments of the general [Noriega] by two grand juries in Florida in February 1988".[34] The US reported 23 servicemen killed and 324 wounded, with Panamanian casualties estimated around 450. Described as a surgical maneuver, the action led to estimates of civilian death from 200 to 4,000 during the two weeks of armed activities. The United Nations put the Panamanian civilian death toll at 500, the United States gave a figure of 202 civilians killed and former US attorney general Ramsey Clark estimated 4,000 deaths.[35][36] It represented the largest United States military operation since the end of the Vietnam War (Cajar Páez 22)[37] The number of US civilians (and their dependents), who had worked for the Panama Canal Commission and the US military, and were killed by the Panamanian Defense Forces, has never been fully disclosed.
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.
Two years after the Panama Papers rocked the offshore financial system, a fresh document leak from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca reveals new financial details about an array of global elites, including soccer superstar Lionel Messi, the family of the Argentine president, and a former senior Kuwaiti official convicted of looting his country’s social security system.
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]
American film-maker Stanley Kubrick had an estimated personal worth of $20 million when he died in 1999, much of it invested in an 18th-century English manor he bought in 1978. He lived in that manor for the rest of his life, filming scenes from The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut there as well. Three holding companies set up by Mossack Fonseca now own the property, and are in turn held by trusts set up for his children and grandchildren.[26] Since Kubrick was an American living in Britain, without the trust his estate would have had to pay transfer taxes to both governments and possibly have been forced to sell the property to obtain the liquid assets to pay them.[27] Kubrick is buried on the grounds along with one of his daughters, and the rest of his family still lives there.[26][27]
One year before the start of the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not begin full operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction. This traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during that period.
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]
There were 14,792 households, out of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.3% were headed by married couples living together, 6.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.0% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28, and the average family size was 2.91.[6]
As of the census[3] 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[3] 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.
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