Country Listing

Panama Table of Contents



Population: In mid-1987 population estimated at 2.3 million; rate of annual growth calculated at about 2.2 percent in the 1980s.

Education and Literacy: Compulsory attendance to age fifteen or completion of six-year primary level. Education free at public primary, secondary, and high schools; nominal tuition at University of Panama. About 87 percent of population over age 10 literate.

Health: Although high proportion of medical facilities and personnel located in major urban areas, most people had ready access to medical care of some kind, and extension of modern medical facilities to rural areas continued in late 1980s. Life expectancy at birth in 1985 seventy-one years.

Language: Spanish the official language and mother tongue of over 87 percent of the people. Antilleans--about 8 percent of the population--primarily spoke English, and Indians--about 5 percent--spoke their own tongues, but with a growing number adopting Spanish as second language.

Ethnic Groups: Society composed of three principal groups: Spanish-speaking mestizos, representing the vast majority of inhabitants; English-speaking Antillean blacks, constituting approximately 8 percent of the population; and tribal Indians, making up about 5 percent of the population. Mestizos originally identified as people of mixed Indian-Spanish heritage, but term now refers to any racial mixture where the individual conforms to the norms of Hispanic culture. Also some unmixed Caucasians.

Religion: Overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Ratio of priests to population quite low, and relatively few Panamanians enter priesthood. Antilleans predominantly Protestant.

Data as of December 1987