The home of several Native American peoples, such as the Guaymí, Kuna, and Chocó, Panama became the first Spanish colony on the Pacific. Celebrated as “the door to the seas and key to the universe,” it served in the 1530s as the staging point for the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, and until the 19th century it was a transshipment point for gold and silver destined for Spain. With the independence of Colombia, which once controlled Panama, from Spain, Panama came to serve as another staging point, this time for oceangoing migrants to the gold fields of California.
Christianity is the main religion in Panama. An official survey carried out by the government estimated in 2015 that 63.2% of the population, or 2,549,150 people, identifies itself as Roman Catholic, and 25.0 percent as evangelical Protestant, or 1,009,740. The Jehovah's Witnesses were the third largest congregation comprising the 1.4% of the population, followed by the Adventist Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the 0.6%. There is a very large Buddhist (0.4% or 18,560) and Jewish community (0.1% or 5,240) in the country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Panama Free Trade Agreement, supported by Obama and Clinton, has been accused of enabling the practices detailed within the Panama Papers through regulatory oversight. However, an Obama administration official said the argument has "zero merit". John Cassidy of The New Yorker, said the Panama Free Trade Agreement actually forced Panama to release information to the American regulatory authorities on "the ownership of companies, partnerships, trusts, foundations, and other persons".
"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."
Asked about the paucity of American individuals in the documents, digital editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung, Stefan Plöchinger, said via Twitter: "Just wait for what is coming next." Plöchinger later clarified that he was just advocating not jumping to conclusions. Copies of at least 200 American passports – indicating that their owners applied for banking services – have been discovered in the Papers, but no US politicians have yet been named in the leak. The names of a few Americans are however mentioned:
The family of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev leads a well-off life thanks in part to financial interests in various sectors of the nation's economy. His wife ascendants are privileged and powerful family that owns banks, insurance and construction companies, a television station and a line of cosmetics. She is well known for her pre-eminent charity work that has led to the construction of schools, hospitals and the country's major sports complex.
According to Senegalese daily Libération, the money-laundering unit Tracfin became interested in 2006 in a €300,000 payment from Groupe Marck, a French company specializing in military uniforms and anti-riot gear, to a Monaco-based entity called Citp. Citp was managed by Kane, a close friend of the president's chief of staff, Maixent Accrombessi, himself held in Paris and interrogated in August 2015. French officials wanted to ask Accrombessi about a contract between Marck and the Gabonese Ministry of the Interior for €7 million. The head of Marck, Philippe Belin, was also held and questioned. The investigation was assigned to Roger Le Loire [fr], who also conducted the so-called "ill-gotten goods" investigation, which targeted a number of African leaders including the father and predecessor of Ali Bongo Ondimba, the current president of Gabon.
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.
In Panama, nature is all about discovery. Explore the ruins of Spanish forts on the Caribbean coast or boat deep into indigenous territories in a dugout canoe. Wildlife is incidental: a resplendent quetzal on the highland trail, an unruly troupe of screeching howler monkeys outside your cabin or a breaching whale that turns your ferry ride into an adrenaline-filled event. Adventure tourism means zipping through rainforest canopies, swimming alongside sea turtles or trekking to sublime cloud-forest vistas. One small tropical country with two long coasts makes for a pretty big playground.
Former Sudanese President Ahmed al-Mirghani was a client of Mossack Fonseca also. Al-Mirghani lived in Egypt after the 1989 coup that ended his presidency and was active in the Democratic Unionist Party. Orange Star Corporation bought a long-term lease in a tony London neighborhood near Hyde Park for $600,000 the same year al-Mirghani created it, and at the time of his death held assets worth $2.72 million.
Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in terms of revenue generation. This sector of the economy has seen a great deal of growth since the transfer of the Panama Canal Zone at the end of the twentieth century. The number of hotel rooms increased by more than ten-fold, from 1,400 in 1997 to more than 15,000 in 2013, while the number of annual visitors increased from 457,000 in 1999 to 1.4 million in 2011. The city's hotel occupancy rate has always been relatively high, reaching the second highest for any city outside the United States in 2008, after Perth, Australia, and followed by Dubai. However, hotel occupancy rates have dropped since 2009, probably due to the opening of many new luxury hotels. Several international hotel chains, such as Le Méridien, Radisson, and RIU, have opened or plan to open new hotels in the city, along with those previously operating under Marriott, Sheraton, InterContinental, and other foreign and local brands. The Trump Organization built the Trump Ocean Club, its first investment in Latin America, in 2006 and it is the tallest building in the city. In 2018 it was renamed The Bahia Grand Panama following falling occupancy rates associated with the declining brand value of the Trump name. Hilton Worldwide opened a Hilton Garden Inn in El Cangrejo, and in 2013, The Panamera, the second Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Latin America.
President Barack Obama addressed the overseas shell companies listed by the leak in a press conference: "It's not that they're breaking the laws," he said, "it's that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they've got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by." Although no leader in the US was mentioned in the Panama Papers, Obama said that "Frankly, folks in America are taking advantage of the same stuff".