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The Pacific coastline, with the Azuero Peninsula jutting south to define the Gulf of Panama, is longer than the Atlantic coastline.

The area of the country is 25,590 square miles (74,046 square kilometers). In 2000, Panama had approximately 2.816 million inhabitants, 700,000 of whom lived in Panama City, with another 300,000 in the immediate suburbs.

They speak English, French, or an English patois at home and are mostly Protestant. The official language is Spanish, but English is used widely in business, especially banking and tourism, and by some people of African descent. Some coins bear the image of Urraca, an Indian chief who resisted the Spanish conquests, but most coins depict Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean. Panama became an autonomous nation because of its function as the custodian of the transisthmus shipping route—the "path between the seas." It gained independence in 1903 as part of an American-sponsored revolt against Colombia that led to the signing of a treaty granting the United States the right to build the Panama Canal.

The Spanish discovered and conquered Panama between 15.

After the transfer of sovereignty over the canal, those workers migrated to Panama City. Panamanians do not consider themselves former Colombians.

From 1578 to 1751, Panama was the seat of a Spanish real audiencia (court of chancery), with Spanish lawyers and a governor or captain general.

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Bella Vista, a gracious area of Art Deco mansions for the elites grew up in the 1920s along the bay. On the "Zone" side there was parkland, with occasional housing clusters.

The walled city survives as the Casco Viejo, and the areas adjacent to it are now densely populated slums.

Because the former Canal Zone abuts the old city on the north and west, the growing population was forced to fan out along the bay to the north and east.

After 1538, it was used as a land route to Spain's South American colonies and a transshipment point for Andean gold.

From 1568 to 1671 there was series of pirate raids, and in 1671 Panama City was sacked by buccaneers under the command of Sir Henry Morgan.

People of African descent account for 15 percent of the population.