Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, the city is susceptible to tropical cyclones. In 2018, Panama City was directly hit by Hurricane Michael, which caused catastrophic damage to the city and surrounding communities, with winds of 160 mph (260 km/h) at landfall. The city previously suffered significant indirect impacts from Hurricane Ivan (2004) and Hurricane Opal (1995).
In 2010, it was estimated that 94.1 percent of the population was literate (94.7 percent of males and 93.5 percent of females).[83] Education in Panama is compulsory for the children between 6 and 18. In recent decades, school enrollment at all levels, but especially at upper levels, has increased significantly. Panama used to participate in the PISA exams but due to debts and unsatisfactory exam results is postponing participation until 2018.[84]
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.

What they had counted on, however, was the influence of the separatists in the capital. Ever since October 1821, when the former Governor General, Juan de la Cruz Murgeón, left the isthmus on a campaign in Quito and left a colonel in charge, the separatists had been slowly converting Fábrega to the separatist side. So, by November 10, Fábrega was now a supporter of the independence movement. Soon after the separatist declaration of Los Santos, Fábrega convened every organization in the capital with separatist interests and formally declared the city's support for independence. No military repercussions occurred because of skillful bribing of royalist troops.
The dominant feature of Panama's geography is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. The divide does not form part of the great mountain chains of North America, and only near the Colombian border are there highlands related to the Andean system of South America. The spine that forms the divide is the highly eroded arch of an uplift from the sea bottom, in which peaks were formed by volcanic intrusions.
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]
HSBC also appeared to reassure Mossack Fonseca not only that it was "comfortable" with Makhlouf as a client but suggested there could be a rapprochement with the Assad family by the US. Makhlouf is already known to be a long-standing client of HSBC's Swiss private bank, holding at least $15 million with it in multiple accounts in 2006.[103] The Panamanian files also show HSBC provided financial services to a Makhlouf company called Drex Technologies, which HSBC said was a company of "good standing".[103]
Perez Balladares ran as the candidate for a three-party coalition dominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the erstwhile political arm of military dictatorships. Perez Balladares worked skillfully during the campaign to rehabilitate the PRD's image, emphasizing the party's populist Torrijos roots rather than its association with Noriega. He won the election with only 33 percent of the vote when the major non-PRD forces splintered into competing factions. His administration carried out economic reforms and often worked closely with the US on implementation of the Canal treaties.[citation needed]
Anti-corruption group Transparency International believes that the "creation of businesses while serving as president is a direct violation of the constitution".[296] Also, journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project believe that with the move Poroshenko committed two other illegalities, starting a new business while in office and failing afterwards to report it on his disclosure statements.[296] Poroshenko denied any wrongdoing and a spokesman said the offshore company had no active assets and was a legitimate corporate restructure aimed at helping to sell Poroshenko's Roshen group.[296] Analysts in Ukraine responded that the secretive way Poroshenko set up these accounts was certain to undermine trust in him, his party and Ukraine itself.[297]
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