Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Panama is a central American country, with a population of 2,839,170 (2000). It shares borders with Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east. Panama's social, economic, political, and cultural history has been marked by its strategic geopolitical location. Panamanian intellectuals have considered their republic a “place of transit,” and have struggled to develop an identity to define a country characterized by large temporary and permanent migrations. During colonial times, (early 16th to mid-19th century) Panama (known then as Castilla de Oro) became a tactical site for the Spanish Empire, as it was a point of connection between the Caribbean and the Pacific, and therefore a communications node between the Viceroyalty of New Granada (with its capital in Mexico City) and the Peruvian Viceroyalty administered from Lima. Slavery (1508–1852) in Panama was not closely linked, as in other regions of America, to plantation life, although some slave labor ...