Panama is an independent nation in North America. With the capital city of Panama City, Panama 2020 population is estimated at 4,314,778 according to countryaah. The indigenous peoples who lived in today’s Panama when Europeans arrived in the 16th century were quickly decimated by persecution and disease. The area became a center of trade in the new Spanish colonial empire. Independence from Spain was proclaimed in 1821 when it was part of new state formation. The construction of the Panama Canal, which began in the late 1800s, helped Panama with the support of the United States proclaim itself its own state in 1903.
The Spanish Rodrigo de Bastidas was in 1501 the first European to land on the Panamanian nose. At that time, there were an estimated 500,000 to one million residents on the area corresponding to today’s Panama. The gold objects carried by the indigenous people – which the Europeans came to call Indians – led the Spaniards to believe that they had found El Dorado: the city which according to Spanish myth was full of gold.
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During the first decades of the 16th century, the Spaniards penetrated deeper into the country. In 1519, the Spanish governor moved his residence to a small fishing village on the Pacific coast, four kilometers east of today’s capital. The indigenous people called the village of Panama which is said to mean “plenty of fish”. For Panama political system, please check diseaseslearning.
Spanish colonization in Panama hit the urinals hard. They were enslaved, escaped, killed or died of European diseases against which they lacked immune systems. As the population declined, there was a labor shortage that the Spaniards filled with imports of African slaves. Panama City became the center of the slave trade in Latin America.
The Spaniards found no gold treasures on the Panamanian nose. However, Panama became an important hub for transporting precious metals from South America to Europe. Eventually, however, trade slowed and Spain lost interest in the colony. In 1739, Panama was incorporated into the Spanish Viceroy of New Granada, which also included today’s Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
Panama becomes free from Spain
At the same time as the rest of Central America, Panama proclaimed its independence in 1821. But Panama did not join the Central American Federation, but became part of the Republic of Greater Colombia, which included the same territory as New Granada.
In 1830 Venezuela and Ecuador broke out of the Union. Remaining were Colombia and Panama which formed the Republic of New Granada. In 1866 the name was changed to Colombia.
In the mid-1800s, an American company built a railroad across the Panamanian Sea to facilitate transports between the Atlantic and Pacific. The United States and Colombia signed an agreement that gave the United States the right to be responsible for the protection of the railways.
The increased transport needs also updated old plans on a channel through the nose. The Spaniards had hoped to be able to transport Peruvian silver on such a channel. Now it was also in the interest of the US that a sea link between the US east and west coast was established.
The canal is being built
The channel came to dominate Panama’s history. Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps, creator of the Suez Canal, began digging in 1879. But the problems were great, among other things, tropical diseases harvested the lives of tens of thousands of workers and eventually sacked the cash register. de Lesseps was forced to give up in 1889 after digging two-fifths of the route. The United States negotiated with Colombia on a channel construction and it was agreed to establish a channel zone. But the Colombian Congress had objections, and the negotiations collapsed in 1903.
This led the Panamans, with US support, to revolt against Colombia. In 1903 they proclaimed the independent republic of Panama. The Washington government hastily signed an agreement with the new Panamanian government. It guaranteed the United States total control over the 1.6 mile wide “forever” channel zone. In return, the United States would pay an annual compensation to Panama. The agreement made Panama a US protectorate. The United States guaranteed Panama’s sovereignty and, in exchange, allowed “sovereign rights” to intervene in the country’s internal affairs. This created an ambiguity that in the following years caused many disputes between the two countries about the interpretation of the text of the agreement.
The canal building was completed and the Panama Canal opened to traffic in August 1914. It was just over eight miles long with inlets and consisted of three locks at both ends as well as dug canals and two artificial lakes. The canal has remained one of the world’s most important waterways and is considered a masterpiece in engineering.
The first decades after independence in 1903 were a politically unstable time with many regime changes. There was a liberal and a conservative party, but in practice the political power was limited to a small circle of rich white families.
For many years, Panama consisted of two units. The canal zone was ruled by a governor who was only responsible to the US president. Panama’s dissatisfaction with the terms of the agreement forced two amendments to the treaty: 1936 and 1955. In 1939, Panama’s status as an American protectorate was revoked.