Panama has a fairly high income per person
compared to other countries in the region, but the
distribution of income is one of the most uneven in the
Good economic growth has contributed to reduced
poverty over a number of years. According to World Bank
estimates, 14 percent of Panamans lived during the
official poverty line in 2017, and about 6.5 percent
were extremely poor. The differences are large within
the country. Poverty is most prevalent in rural areas
where indigenous peoples are in the majority.
Afropanamans are also over-represented among the poor.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Panama, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The social security system includes sickness benefit
and pension, but it only covers two thirds of the
population, mainly Panamans with formal employment. The
system risks collapsing due to lack of money. An attempt
to raise the retirement age from 57 years for women and
62 years for men was halted by widespread protests in
Health care has been expanded in recent years, but
major differences remain between different regions,
especially between the city and the countryside. Some of
Latin America's best equipped hospitals are located in
Panama's major cities, while resources are scarce in the
countryside. Malnutrition is a common health problem.
Panama has many street children and an extensive
child prostitution. Many women are also exploited in the
sex trade. Violence against women in the home is a
common problem and rarely leads to convictions.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2008, but
homosexuals are often subjected to harassment and
discrimination. Among other things, they are prohibited
from becoming military or police officers. There is no
partnership or similar legislation.
Abortion is permitted only if the woman's life or
health is in danger, if the pregnancy is the result of
rape or incest, or if the fetus is severely damaged.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
13 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
0.9 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.2 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
95.0 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
83.3 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
7.0 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 1,041 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
18 percent (2018)
Free trade agreements come into force
The Free Trade Agreement with the US enters into force (see July 2011).
New setback for the president
President Martinelli suffers another setback and is forced to pull back a
recently passed law following violent protests that require the lives of three
people, including a nine-year-old boy. The law would allow the sale of
state-owned land in the Colón free trade zone. The government's purpose is to
stimulate development, but both Colón's Chamber of Commerce and the trade union
movement and various civic groups oppose the law, which they fear will strike
jobs and drive down wages.
Election laws change
The National Assembly approves amendments to the electoral laws which, among
other things, deletes the proportional element with party lists in the election
to the National Assembly. It is further stated that primary elections must be
held six months before the presidential election, which means that the time for
the official election movement is shortened. The opposition is sharply critical
and claims that the changes favor the incumbent government.
President Martinelli and the national police chief intervene to lift a
blockade of the newspaper La Prensa, by workers from a construction company who
surrounded the office with trucks. La Prensa had written that the company had
received favorable government contracts worth millions of dollars.
Opposition alliances are formed before the election
The Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), the Panamist Party and the People's
Party (PP) form an opposition alliance - the Democracy Front - before the 2014
elections. The three traditional rivals come together in response to President
Martinelli appointing three judges to the proposed new Constitutional Court (see
January 2012), even though it has not yet been set up.
Opposition parties are also protesting against the government's proposal to sell
half of the state's 49 percent stake in a telecom company, which it believes is
a way for the party to raise money before the election. Protests in Panama City
against the proposal degenerate into violence and a parliamentary meeting is
suspended after fights broke out between members. As a result of the protests,
Martinelli withdraws both proposals.
The President sues the Vice President
The corruption scandal discovered in April leads President Ricardo Martinelli
to sue Vice President Juan Carlos Varela for slander, at $ 30 million. Varela
has said, among other things, that Martinelli asked him (when he was foreign
minister) to appoint Valter Lavitola as honorary consul in Rome, which the
The president is suspected of corruption
President Martinelli gets involved in a serious corruption scandal when a
former employee of Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is arrested
in Italy, accused of fraud. Valter Lavitola, among other things, must have
directed Martinelli to obtain valuable construction contracts. According to
media reports, Martinelli, a cousin of him and Panama City Mayor Roxana Méndez,
must have received suitcases filled with cash. Roxana Méndez is closely allied
HD cancels exit
The Supreme Court cancels Panama's exit from the Central American Parliament
Parlac in December 2011.
Victory for protesting indigenous peoples
Following protests and several weeks of negotiations, President Martinelli
concludes an agreement with the indigenous peoples of the Comarcan Ngöbe-Buglé,
on the use of natural resources in the area (see February 2012).
The agreement means that all new mining projects in comarcan are stopped and
that future hydroelectric projects must be approved by the residents (see also
June and July 2010).
Ex-president is sentenced for slander
Former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares is sentenced to $ 3,000 in fines or
a year in prison for defamation of an audit chief he has called "drug offender"
(see also April 2011).
Protests against development plans
Unrest erupts in connection with protests against mining and hydroelectric
projects in comarcan Ngöbe-Buglé (see Political system). Two people are killed
and dozens injured when police try to disperse members of indigenous peoples
blocked by the Inter-American highway. Demonstrations occur in several places,
the universities of Panama City are closed down, banana workers strike and
police stations are set on fire.
Proposed constitutional amendments
A committee presents a proposal for constitutional amendments. Among other
things, it is proposed that a constitutional court be established, and that the
number of members of the Supreme Court be increased from nine to twelve.
Furthermore, a ban on direct re-election of MPs is proposed. On the other hand,
the proposal contains nothing about changed rules in the presidential elections,
something that has been hotly debated. Many have speculated that Martinelli
wants to change the constitution in order to be eligible for re-election in 2014
(see also Political system).
Human rights violations should be investigated
The Government announces that a Truth Commission established under the
Government of Moscow (1999-2004) will be reactivated to investigate human rights
violations during the military dictatorship 1968-1989.