Country Fact Sheet: Panama

The Republic of Panama is located in Central America bordering Costa Rica, Colombia, the North Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. Panama is in a strategic location serving as a bridge connecting North and South America and also a canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.  Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina and covers an area of 78,200 sq. kilometers.  The total population is 3.56 million and is growing at a rate of 1.38% with 75% living in urban areas.  The capital of Panama City has a population of 1.1 million with other main cities including Colon (198,000) and David (138,000). The people are governed by a constitutional democracy and are predominately Roman Catholic. The primary language spoken is Spanish, however many people are bilingual and speak English as well. The local currency is the Panamanian Balboa, which has been set at a fixed rate to the US dollar, making the legal currency used the US dollar.

Panama’s economy is characterized by a strong service sector accounting for 80% of GDP.  Operating the Panama Canal is a strong asset of Panama and a recent Canal Expansion project to be completed by 2014-15 should help to further growth of Panama’s economy. Panama’s main trade partner is the US with others including Netherlands, China, Japan, Costa Rica, South Korea, Sweden, UK, and Spain. Its primary imports are capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, and chemicals. Exports include bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, and clothing. Panama’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) is $58.02 billion and is growing at a real rate of 10.7% with an inflation rate of 5.7%. Panama ranked 61 out of 185 countries in the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking.  Click here to search for Businesses Franchising Internationally  

Demographic Data   Economic Data    Cultural & Other Data   
Area (sq. km.)   78,200  GDP (PPP, $bn)   58.02  Capital   Panama City 
Population (million)   3.56  GDP Real Growth (%)   10.7  Other Large Cities   Colon, David 
Population Growth       (%)   1.38  PerCap GDP ($)   15,900  Primary Language   Spanish 
Population Under     15yrs (%)   27.7  Prime Lending               Rate (%)   6.91  Urbanization   75 
Population below poverty line (%)   26  Inflation Rate%   5.7  Urban Growth        2.3 
Agricultural Workers    (% of population)   17  Unemployment%   4.4  Literacy  (population %)   91.9 
Industrial Workers     (% of population)   18.6  Foreign          Direct     Investment ($bn)   NA  Education spending              % of GDP   4.1 
Service Workers        (% of population)   64.4  Debt-External ($bn)   14.2  CPI Score           (1-100)*   38 
Labor Force (mil)   1.517  Exports ($bn)   18.91  Corporate Income Tax %   25 
      Imports ($bn)   24.69  Ease of Doing Business Ranking **   61 




Click the links below for articles with more information on Franchising in Panama

Viva Global Expansion! Trade Mission to Latin America (2012) 

Latin American Market Sizzles With U.S. Franchisors (2012) 

Doing business in Panama (2013)

Latin American Market Sizzles with U.S. Franchisors (2012) 

US Commercial Service Market Report - Panama (2010)

Franchising in Panama and Central America (2007)

The Future of Latin America (2007)


* CPI Score is published by Transparency International and relates to the perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 100 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt).  

**Ease of Doing Business Ranking is determined by the World Bank Group and is ranked out of a possible 185 countries.  

Most recent statistics have been taken from the CIA World Factbook unless noted otherwise. 

International Franchising Opportunities

International Franchising Opportunities

After you have finished researching the international markets, learning international expansion strategies and best practices, and understanding the basics of international franchising law, IFA provides numerous opportunities for franchising internationally.


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