An analysis of Panama and its current economic and political conditions, focusing specifically on how forward movement can be sustained.

The following paper examines Panama’s impacting prospects for improving her economy. It looks at the way in which she can achieve or maintain democratic reform initiatives in the new century. This paper also includes historical facts and the unfolding of events as well as regional and global environmental factors which help provide a qualitative analysis to support the central thesis that forward movement can be sustained.
Panama was part of the Spanish empire for 300 years (1538-1821), and its history and current economic and political conditions are rooted in that experience. Panamanian identity has also always been based on a sense of geographic destiny and Panamanian fortunes fluctuated with the changing geopolitical importance of the isthmus. The colonial experience also marked Panamanian nationalism causing its politics to be characterized by strongly anti-imperialist themes and sentiment and its society to become racially complex and highly stratified. These factors became the source of internal conflicts that ran counter to the unifying force of Panamanian nationalism. Upon its independence from Spain, Panama briefly joined with Columbia; however, when Columbia refused to allow plans for the United States to build a canal across the isthmus, Panama, with U.S. support, declared itself sovereign in 1903. Immediately, it signed a treaty with the U.S., allowing for the construction of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914. The U.S. saw the canal zone as theirs, while the Panamanians claimed actual ownership, causing tensions for decades.