Panama Demographics

What is the population of Panama?

Population 3,894,082
Population Growth Rate 1.38%
Urban Population 75.3%
Population in Major Urban Areas PANAMA CITY (capital) 1.426 million
Nationality Noun Panamanian(s)
Nationality Adjective Panamanian
Ethnic Groups mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%
Languages Spoken Spanish (official), English 14%
Language Note Spanish is the official language although many Panamanians in business and the professions speak English. 

Panama Health Information

What are the health conditions in Panama?

Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 15-49 52.2%
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 4.73
Drinking Water Source - percent of rural population improved 86.6%
Drinking Water Source - percent of total population unimproved 5.7%
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 96.8%
Food or Waterborne Disease (s) bacterial diarrhea
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 8.2%
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.9%
HIV/Aids Deaths 600
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 2.4
Infant Mortality Rate - female deaths/1,000 live births 10.21
Infant Mortality Rate - male deaths/1,000 live births 11.77
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 11.01
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk intermediate
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 92
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 25.4%
People Living with HIV/AIDS 20,000
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 1.5
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of total population unimproved 26.8%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 79.7%
Sanitation Facitlity Access - percent of rural population improved 52.5%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 2.4
Underweight - percent of children under five years 3.9%
Vectorborne Disease (s) dengue fever

Panama Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Panama?

Life Expectancy at Birth 78 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - female 81 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - male 75 Years
Median Age 28 Years
Median Age - female 28 Years
Median Age - male 27 Years

Panama Infant Mortality - per 1,000 live births

Panama median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 19
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 4.73
Median Age 28 Years
Median Age - female 28 Years
Median Age - male 27 Years
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population -0.35
Population Growth Rate 1.38%
Sex Ratio 0-14 Years - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio 15-24 Years - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio 25-54 Years - male/female 1.03
Sex Ratio 55-64 Years - male/female 1.01
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.05
Sex Ratio of Total Population - male/female 1.02
Sex Ratio Over 64 Years - male/female .86

Panama Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Panama?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Panama City has some very good hospitals and clinics, but medical facilities outside of the capital are limited. Hospitals in Panama are either private hospitals or government-run public hospitals.

Many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service. Medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. In Panama, most hospitals accept credit cards for hospital charges, but not for doctors' fees.

Except for antibiotics and narcotics, most medications are available without a prescription.

The 911 call center also provides ambulance service. However, an ambulance may not always be available and, given difficulties with traffic jams and poor road conditions, there may be a significant delay in response. There are also private ambulance services available on a subscription basis.

Panama is actively promoting medical tourism, and many companies are now offering vacation packages bundled with medical consultations for assisted reproduction technology treatments, dental procedures, and a wide range of plastic surgery. While there are advantages, like affordable costs, quality health care, and a chance to recuperate while vacationing, there are also risks.

Individuals considering plastic surgery should always make sure that emergency medical facilities are available in or near the facility where the surgery will be performed. Some “boutique” plastic surgery operations offer luxurious facilities but are not hospitals and are therefore unable to deal with unforeseen emergencies.

Dengue and Malaria: Prevention of mosquito bites is the best way to avoid these illnesses. Use of topical repellants and wearing long sleeves and pants are recommended in areas affected.

Dengue fever outbreaks have been occurring annually in Panama in both urban and rural areas, this is a mosquito borne virus that can cause fever, severe headache and body aches, it can also cause severe disease with bleeding and even death. Dengue carrying mosquitoes are different than those carrying malaria and bite during the day and frequently live in homes and hotel rooms.

Malaria, also mosquito borne, occurs in rural areas of Panama. Malaria in Panama is almost exclusively P. vivax (P. falciparum transmission is minimal and limited to areas east of the Canal Zone). Transmission occurs throughout the year.

Malaria Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers: throughout the provinces and comarcas of Darién, Kuna Yala (including the San Blas Islands), Kuna de Madugandi, Kuna de Wargandi, and –Emberá.

Protective measures: Evening and nighttime insect precautions are essential in areas with any level of malaria transmission. Atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone or generic), doxycycline, and mefloquine are protective east of the Canal Zone. For the exceptional case of a vulnerable traveler with underlying medical conditions and/or the potential for an especially adverse outcome from malaria, chloroquine and other antimalarials (atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, and mefloquine) are protective west of the Canal Zone. Drug choice should be discussed with your medical provider before travel.

Traveler's Diarrhea: Moderate risk exists even in deluxe accommodations; high risk exists elsewhere. Food and beverage precautions are essential to reduce the likelihood of illness. Diarrhea risk can be minimized by avoiding fresh fruit and vegetables that cannot be peeled or are not cooked and served hot. Tap water is not safe to drink in many areas of Panama, and visitors should use bottled water. Traveling with antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin and the antimotility agent loperamide in case of diarrhea should be considered.

You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Tuberculosis is significantly more common in Panama than in the US. Although no particular precautions are recommended those with extended stays (more than 3 months) or extensive contact with disadvantaged populations should discuss with their medical provider TB testing before and after their travel to Panama.

Panama Education

What is school like in Panama?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 3.5%
Literacy - female 91.9%
Literacy - male 93.2%
Literacy - total population 91.9%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
School Life Expectancy - female 13 Years
School Life Expectancy - male 12 Years
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 12 Years

Panama Literacy

Can people in Panama read?

Literacy - female 91.9%
Literacy - male 93.2%
Literacy - total population 91.9%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Predominant Language Spanish (official), English 14%

Panama Learning

What is school like in Panama?

Education Culture

Children must go to school from ages 6 to 15. Many schools are public but some are run by the Catholic Church. In many rural areas there are not schools. Many children in rural areas have to help their families work on their farms. A student must go to school for 12 years in order to attend a university.  People in Panama care about education The government spends a lot of money to improve education. Elementary school is free. The school year last from April to December. Students learn reading, writing, math, history and art. A law says that children must complete the 6th grade. Some families pay for children to go to private middle and high school. Many students attend colleges in Panama City. Middle School and high school are called secondary education in Panama. Students study many subjects in the first three years. They learn math, science, art and history. The second part of secondary education also lasts about three years. Students study only one subject in the second part. They choose a subject that will help them get a job after they graduate. The education system in panama is separated into three levels: Primary school (six years) secondary school (six years) and university or higher education. The first six years of primary education are required for all children. A high percentage goes on to enroll in secondary school. Panama has one of the highest literacy rates in Central America.

Panama Crime

Is Panama a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Panama remains relatively safe when compared to other Central American countries, yet crime rates are still higher than one would encounter in most of the United States. Violent crime in Panama started to rise in 2007. However, new efforts by Panama’s National Police (PNP) to combat this trend appear to have made an impact. Starting in June 2010, the number of homicides in the country declined and continued a downward trend through 2012. Unfortunately, the rate of simple theft was up, with "Blackberry"-type smart phones being a particular target. The three provinces with the largest cities also had the highest overall crime rates: Panama, Colon, and Chiriqui. The entire city of Colon is a high crime area; travelers should use extreme caution anywhere in Colon.

Police continue to conduct vehicle check points at key intersections in the city in an effort to raise their visibility and hamper criminals’ movements. The high crime areas in and around Panama City are El Chorrillo, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Cabo Verde, Curundu, Veracruz Beach, Santa Librada, Rio Abajo, San Miguelito, Panama Viejo, and the Madden Dam Overlook.

Crimes are typical of those that plague metropolitan areas and include shootings, rapes, armed robberies, muggings, purse-snatchings, thefts from locked autos by breaking windows for entry, thefts of unsecured items, petty theft, and occasionally "express kidnappings" from ATM banking facilities, in which the victim is briefly kidnapped and robbed after withdrawing cash from an ATM. There has also been a recent spike in the number of credit card and ATM card fraud reports. Criminals are capturing credit and ATM card information to clone and create fraudulent cards. Kidnappings have been on the rise of late, including in Panama City. Many of the kidnappings appear related to drug or criminal activity.

There has also been a recent increase of thefts from cars. We encourage travelers and residents to take all valuables out of their cars and place them in their trunks before they get to their destinations. Drivers should keep their windows up while the car is in motion or stopped in traffic, at traffic lights, or at their destinations to prevent items being stolen while driving.

Taxis are a very helpful way to maneuver around Panama; however use caution when getting into a taxi. Check to see that the number on the side of the taxi matches the number of the license plate. Ensuring the car is a registered taxi with a number on the side is a quick way to help prevent any incidences. Regular taxis are yellow in color. Also, never get into a taxi which already has a passenger and instruct the driver not to pick up any additional fares while en route to your destination. Many hotels also have “tourist taxis” that are not yellow but only pick up passengers in front of well-known hotels.

U.S. citizens are advised to never let a “helpful” stranger direct you to a particular taxi or taxi stand, and always negotiate the fare before getting in to ensure a fixed price.

In regards to non-drug related crime, the use of weapons (handguns and knives) in the commission of street robberies is common; however, gratuitous violence is uncommon as long as the victim complies and hands over the property. In 2013, there was an increase in violence during theft. Home burglaries and, more worrying, home-invasion robberies do appear to be on the rise, especially in the more affluent neighborhoods. Panama City has a curfew for those younger than 18 years of age that is generally from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The times are subject to change depending on your location within Panama. If you are concerned about the exact time you may contact local police. This curfew applies to both Panamanian and foreign citizens. Under the law, students attending night classes must have a “carnet” or permit, issued by the school or, if employed, a Certificate of Employment. Minors who are picked up for a curfew violation are subject to detention at a police station until parents or legal guardians can arrange for them to be released into their custody. Parents or legal guardians may be fined up to U.S. $50 for the first violation.

Panamanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Panama of items such as firearms and ammunition, cultural property, endangered wildlife species, narcotics, biological material, and food products. Contact the Embassy of Panama in Washington or one of Panama's Consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Panama Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Panama, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you.

Driving under the influence can land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States, as is commercial sex with a person under the age of 18.

If you break local laws in Panama, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the embassy cannot get you out of jail or prison. Keep in mind, if you are arrested you must be sentenced before you can be repatriated to the United States. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Persons violating Panamanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Panama are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

If you are arrested in Panama, authorities of Panama are required to alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request that the police notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest.

Panama Population Comparison

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