History & Influences
Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is the southernmost country of Central America. The capital is Panama City. Panama population is about 3.6 million people. Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela, named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined. Nueva Granada later became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the Panama Canal to be built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama by the end of the 20th century. Panama’s inhabitants are mainly mestizos (mix of African, indigenous, and European ancestry), who represent 70 percent of the population. The rest of the population is made up of 6 percent Amerindian, 14 percent Amerindian and mixed, and 10 percent white. Spanish is the official language, but some citizens speak English or various indigenous languages. Panama's business culture has been influenced by its long history with the United States, as well as many South American traditions. Differences of culture and class created by Panama's history impact its overall culture and its business culture, as well. In general, Panamanians value personal relationships and loyalty over individual needs and desires in the business context. Business visitors may notice many contradictions in the Panamanian business style. For example, while most Panamanians are very friendly and warm, and take the time to get to know their future business partners before getting into business discussions, most meetings and introductions will be very formal and will follow a strict sense of hierarchy. Titles and rank are very important to Panamanians, and it's important that...
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