"The most obvious use of offshore financial centers is to avoid taxes", The Economist added.[32] Oxfam blamed tax havens in its 2016 annual report on income inequality for much of the widening gap between rich and poor. "Tax havens are at the core of a global system that allows large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, "depriving governments, rich and poor, of the resources they need to provide vital public services and tackle rising inequality."[34]
According to the CIA World Factbook, as of 2012 Panama had an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent.[9] A food surplus was registered in August 2008. On the Human Development Index, Panama ranked 60th in 2015. In recent years, Panama's economy has experienced a boom, with growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) averaging over 10.4 percent in 2006–2008. Panama's economy has been among the fastest growing and best managed in Latin America.[citation needed] The Latin Business Chronicle predicted that Panama would be the fastest growing economy in Latin America during the five-year period from 2010–14, matching Brazil's 10 percent rate.[54]
The US intent to influence the area, especially the Panama Canal's construction and control, led to the separation of Panama from Colombia in 1903 and its establishment as a nation. When the Senate of Colombia rejected the Hay–Herrán Treaty on January 22, 1903, the United States decided to support and encourage the Panamanian separatist movement[24][22]
Computer security expert Chris Kubecka announced May 24, 2016 that the Mossack Fonseca client login portal was running four different government grade remote access trojans (RATs). Kubecka confirmed there were still numerous critical vulnerabilities, too many open ports into their infrastructure and internet access to their archive server due to weak security.[74] Kubecka explained how each data security issue was discovered in detail in a full-length book titled Down the Rabbit Hole: An OSINT Journey.[75]

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.
Diamond Ocean Enterprises, a Mossack Fonseca entity set up in 2005, reported its purpose as financial consulting to a Namibian diamond manufacturer and polisher.[209] According to the law firm's records, Deutsche Investment Consultants (Asia) Limited, a Mossack Fonseca company set up in the British Virgin Islands for the now-imprisoned Mafioso Vito Palazzolo by Wolf-Peter Berthold, a German banker based in Hong Kong, is a director of the firm. Its shareholders include Peter von Palace Kolbatschenko, Palazzolo's son, Berthold, and Giovanni Agusta.[209]
The city of Panama was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila. The city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the American continent, leading to the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, through which passed most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas.
Arias Madrid was declared the winner of elections that were marked by violence and accusations of fraud against Alianza del Pueblo. On October 1, 1968, Arias Madrid took office as president of Panama, promising to lead a government of "national union" that would end the reigning corruption and pave the way for a new Panama. A week and a half later, on October 11, 1968, the National Guard (Guardia Nacional) ousted Arias and initiated the downward spiral that would culminate with the United States' invasion in 1989. Arias, who had promised to respect the hierarchy of the National Guard, broke the pact and started a large restructuring of the Guard. To preserve the Guard's interests, Lieutenant Colonel Omar Torrijos Herrera and Major Boris Martínez commanded the first military coup against a civilian government in Panamanian republican history.[27]
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.
A project to build a third set of locks for the Panama Canal A was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum (with low voter turnout, however) on October 22, 2006. The official estimated cost of the project is US$5.25 billion, but the canal is of major economic importance because it provides millions of dollars of toll revenue to the national economy and provides massive employment. Transfer of control of the Canal to the Panamanian government completed in 1999, after 85 years of US control.
Oleguer Pujol [es], son of Jordi Pujol, former President of the Generalitat of Catalonia considered a linchpin of Catalan independence, granted[clarification needed] the diversion of a commission of 6.8 million euros from the sale of an office to an opaque society, which repaid, with another offshore company, about 5 million more. His Pujol family, parents and children, are charged with several counts of tax fraud and corruption, among other crimes.[262]
"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]
Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures are uniformly high—as is the relative humidity—and there is little seasonal variation. Diurnal ranges are low; on a typical dry-season day in the capital city, the early morning minimum may be 24 °C (75.2 °F) and the afternoon maximum 30 °C (86.0 °F). The temperature seldom exceeds 32 °C (89.6 °F) for more than a short time. Temperatures on the Pacific side of the isthmus are somewhat lower than on the Caribbean, and breezes tend to rise after dusk in most parts of the country. Temperatures are markedly cooler in the higher parts of the mountain ranges, and frosts occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in western Panama.
This place was gorgeous... Nice rooms with awesome views of property & ocean from our balcony. The pool & hot tub were so nice & we walked over to their other back-beach buildings to look at that indoor pool...it was beautiful... dim lit at night and tons of gorgeous plants... We would even love staying there in the future for less money per night if money was tighter... Either location is great. The staff were all so nice & especially Krista at the front desk.. Her customer service went above & beyond and we were so thankful. We can’t wait to stay here again in the future ! Wonderful vacation.
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]

Newspaper Ming Pao fired deputy editor Keung Kwok-yuen following a front-page article on the Panama Papers which mentioned many prominent Hong Kong citizens. The paper blamed a "difficult business environment," but had previously fired another editor in 2014 over another leak of offshore documents.[346] Employees have been publishing blank columns scattered through the newspaper in protest of his dismissal.[347][348]


A 2012 investigation, by Radio Free Europe and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) discovered that through overseas holding companies, the daughters of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev owned an interest in a gold mine operation created by a 2006 presidential decree forming a consortium, then awarding it a 30-year lease over environmental and transparency objections in Parliament.[327]
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 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.
By April 8, the government understood that media reports were addressing tax evasion and that they were not attacking Panama. The president met on Wednesday April 7, with CANDIF, a committee of representatives from different sectors of the economy which includes the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Industry and Agriculture, the National Lawyers Association, the International Lawyers Association, the Banking Association and the Stock Exchange, and entered full crisis management mode.[129]On the same day he announced the creation of a new judiciary tribunal and a high-level commission led by Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. There were accussations that foreign forces were attacking Panama because of Panama's "stable and robust economy".[130]
In 1981 Torrijos died in a plane crash.[29] Torrijos' death altered the tone of Panama's political evolution. Despite the 1983 constitutional amendments which proscribed a political role for the military, the Panama Defense Force (PDF), as they were then known, continued to dominate Panamanian political life. By this time, General Manuel Antonio Noriega was firmly in control of both the PDF and the civilian government.[when?]

A central spine of mountain ranges extends almost the entire length of Panama, dividing the country into Atlantic- and Pacific-facing slopes. The two principal ranges, the Tabasará Mountains (Cordillera Central) in the west and the Cordillera de San Blas in the east, are separated near the centre of the country by a saddle of lower land. This depression (the Panama Canal site) divides the country again—roughly into western and eastern halves. Of the four quadrants thus formed, the southwestern has the largest number of settlements; however, the environs of the canal account for most of Panama’s population and commerce. The country’s highest peak is an inactive volcano, Barú (Chiriquí), which reaches an elevation of 11,401 feet (3,475 metres).

In response to queries from the Miami Herald and ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca issued a 2,900-word statement listing legal requirements that prevent using offshore companies for tax avoidance and total anonymity, such as FATF protocols which require identifying ultimate beneficial owners of all companies (including offshore companies) before opening any account or transacting any business.
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.
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.
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]
Two great-grandchildren of the dictator Francisco Franco, Francisco and Juan José Franco Suelves set up registered societies in the British Virgin Islands through Mossack Fonseca. Juan José Franco opened Malini Investments in 1997, being director in 2012 and closed in 2013. He told the newspaper El Confidencial he was "absolutely ignorant". Francisco Franco Suelves, his older brother, also opened Vamfield Alliance Limited in 1997 as a director.[261]
On May 12, 2016, the names of former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, and former Premier of New South Wales Neville Wran, were both found in the Panama Papers, due to the pair's former directorship of the Mossack Fonseca-incorporated company Star Technology Systems Limited. Turnbull and Wran resigned from these positions in 1995, and the Prime Minister has denied any impropriety, stating "had [Star Technology] made any profits—which it did not regrettably—it certainly would have paid tax in Australia."[490]
The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (FI) said on April 4, 2016, it would investigate the actions of Nordea, one of the largest financial institutions in the Nordic countries, after the Panama Papers revealed the bank's Luxembourg office had helped to set up nearly 400 offshore companies for its clients between 2004 and 2014 in Panama and the British Virgin Islands for their customers.[280][281]
The city has both public and private schools. Most of the private schools are at least bilingual. Higher education is headed by the two major public universities: the University of Panama and the Technological University of Panama. There are private universities, such as the Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua, the Universidad Latina de Panama, the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT), the Distance and Open University of Panama (UNADP), Universidad del Istmo Panama, the Universidad Maritima Internacional de Panama, and the Universidad Especializada de las Americas. Also, there are Panama Branches of the Nova Southeastern University (its main campus is in Ft. Lauderdale in Broward County, Florida); the University of Oklahoma; the Central Texas University; the University of Louisville which runs a sister campus in the city,[36] and the Florida State University, which operates a broad curriculum program[37] in an academic and technological park known as Ciudad del Saber.
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