Country Listing

Panama Table of Contents


Size and Growth

In mid-1987, Panama's population was estimated at 2.3 million, when 40 percent of the population was under 15 years of age (see fig. 6). This high proportion suggested continued pressure on the educational system to provide instruction and on the economy to create jobs in the next two decades. Population had increased more than 600 percent since the country's first census in 1911 (see table 2, Appendix A). The annual rate of increase ranged from less than 0.5 percent in the economically depressed 1920s to more than 3 percent in the decade from 1910 to 1920 and in the 1960s. Demographers projected an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent in the 1980s, declining to 1.9 percent by 1990-95.

Provincial growth rates in the 1970s ranged from a low of 0.5 percent in Los Santos to a high of 3.5 percent in Panamá (see table 3, Appendix A). The population in Bocas del Toro, both in remote and rural areas, grew at an average annual rate of approximately 3.1 percent. This high growth rate was due to a significant influx of migrants in response to the development of the Cerro Colorado copper project in the eastern part of that province (see Mining , ch. 3). Population density was seventy-five persons per square kilometer. The highest densities and the region of the most concentrated urbanization were located in the corridor along the former Canal Zone from Colón to Panama City.

The crude death rate was 5 persons per 1,000 in the mid-1980s, a decline of nearly 50 percent from the mid-1960s. The crude birth rate was 27 per 1,000, a drop of one-third during the same period. Organized family planning began in 1966 with the establishment of the Panamanian Family Planning Organization, a private group. By 1969 the Ministry of Health was actively involved in family planning; clinics, information, and instruction were becoming more available to the population as a whole. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, more than 60 percent of women of childbearing age were using some form of contraception.

Data as of December 1987