Panama

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Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela - named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006, Panamanians approved an ambitious plan (estimated to cost $5.3 billion) to expand the Canal. The project, which began in 2007 and could double the Canal's capacity, is expected to be completed in 2016.

Geography

Location

Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica

Geographic coordinates

9.00° N, 80.00° W

Area 118/257

total: 75,420 sq km

land: 74,340 sq km

water: 1,080 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land boundaries

total: 687 km

border countries (2): Colombia 339 km, Costa Rica 348 km

Coastline

2,490 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin

Climate

tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)

Terrain

interior mostly steep, rugged mountains with dissected, upland plains; coastal plains with rolling hills

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m

Natural resources

copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 30.5%

arable land 7.3%; permanent crops 2.5%; permanent pasture 20.7%

forest: 43.6%

other: 25.9% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

321 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

148 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.91 cu km/yr (27%/2%/71%)

per capita: 296.1 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area

Environment - current issues

water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note

strategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming land bridge connecting North and South America; controls Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Panamanian(s)

adjective: Panamanian

Ethnic groups

mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 65%, Native American 12.3% (Ngabe 7.6%, Kuna 2.4%, Embera .9%, Bugle .8%, other .4%, unspecified .2%), black or African descent 9.2%, mulatto 6.8%, white 6.7% (2010 est.)

Languages

Spanish (official), indigenous languages (including Ngabere (or Guaymi), Buglere, Kuna, Embera, Wounaan, Naso (or Teribe), and Bri Bri), Panamanian English Creole (similar to Jamaican English Creole; a mixture of English and Spanish with elements of Ngabere; also known as Guari Guari and Colon Creole), English, Chinese (Yue and Hakka), Arabic, French Creole, other (Yiddish, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese)

note: many Panamanians are bilingual

Religions

Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

Population 130/238

3,657,024 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.06% (male 505,079/female 484,471)

15-24 years: 17.2% (male 320,329/female 308,717)

25-54 years: 40.24% (male 745,309/female 726,211)

55-64 years: 7.55% (male 136,506/female 139,513)

65 years and over: 7.95% (male 133,930/female 156,959) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 53.4%

youth dependency ratio: 41.7%

elderly dependency ratio: 11.7%

potential support ratio: 8.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 28.6 years

male: 28.2 years

female: 29 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 91/233

1.32% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 98/224

18.32 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 193/225

4.81 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 125/222

-0.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 66.6% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.07% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PANAMA CITY (capital) 1.673 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 78/184

94 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 134/224

total: 10.41 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 11.16 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 9.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 56/224

total population: 78.47 years

male: 75.67 years

female: 81.39 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 86/224

2.35 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

52.2% (2009)

Health expenditures 64/191

7.2% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.65 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

2.2 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 97.7% of population

rural: 86.6% of population

total: 94.7% of population

unimproved:

urban: 2.3% of population

rural: 11.4% of population

total: 5.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 83.5% of population

rural: 58% of population

total: 75% of population

unimproved:

urban: 16.5% of population

rural: 42% of population

total: 25% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.65% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

16,600 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

600 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 55/191

26.5% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 99/138

3.9% (2008)

Education expenditures 122/173

3.3% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 99/134

total: 10.8%

male: 9%

female: 13.9% (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Panama

conventional short form: Panama

local long form: Republica de Panama

local short form: Panama

etymology: according to tradition, the name derives from a former indigenous fishing village and its nearby beach that were called "Panama" meaning "an abundance of fish"

Government type

constitutional democracy

Capital

name: Panama City

geographic coordinates: 8.58° N, 79.32° W

time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

10 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 3 indigenous territories* (comarcas); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Embera-Wounaan*, Herrera, Kuna Yala*, Los Santos, Ngobe-Bugle*, Panama, Panama Oeste, Veraguas

Independence

3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain on 28 November 1821)

National holiday

Independence Day, 3 November (1903)

Constitution

several previous; latest effective 11 October 1972; amended 2001, 2004 (2015)

Legal system

civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2014); Vice President Isabel de SAINT MALO de Alvarado (since 1 July 2014); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2014); Vice President Isabel de SAINT MALO de Alvarado (since 1 July 2014)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term (president eligible for a single non-consecutive term); election last held on 4 May 2014; next to be held in 2019)

election results: Juan Carlos VARELA elected president; percent of vote - Juan Carlos VARELA (PP) 39.1%, Jose Domingo ARIAS (CD) 31.4%, Juan Carlos NAVARRO (PRD) 28.2%, other 1.3%

note: the ruling government coalition - formerly comprised of CD (Democratic Change), Panamenista Party, MOLIRENA (Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement), and UP (Patriotic Union Party) - split in August 2011 when President MARTINELLI relieved Vice President VARELA from his position as Foreign Minister, prompting the Panamenistas to pull out of the coalition; UP merged with CD, and CD and the Panamenista Party ran separate candidates for the 2014 presidency

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; 45 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies - populous towns and cities - by proportional representation vote and 26 directly elected in single-seat constituencies - outlying rural districts - by plurality vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 4 May 2014 (next to be held in May 2019)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 26, CD 25, Panamenista 16, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1, independent 1; note - only 57 deputies were officially installed because fourteen runners-up challenged the election

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 9 magistrates and 9 alternates and divided into civil, criminal, administrative, and general business chambers)

judge selection and term of office: magistrates appointed by the president for staggered 10-year terms

subordinate courts: appellate courts or Tribunal Superior; Labor Supreme Courts; Court of Audit; circuit courts or Tribunal Circuital (2 each in 9 of the 10 provinces); municipal courts; electoral, family, maritime, and adolescent courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal]

Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Carlos PEREZ Herrera]

Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Francisco "Pancho" ALEMAN]

Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez] (formerly the Arnulfista Party)

Popular Party or PP [Milton C. HENRIQUEZ] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)

Political pressure groups and leaders

Chamber of Commerce

Concertacion Nacional (mechanism for Government of Panama to formally dialogue with representatives of civil society)

National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO

National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP

National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS)

Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE

Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP

Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP

International organization participation

BCIE, CAN (observer), CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA, UN, UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

divided into four, equal rectangles; the top quadrants are white (hoist side) with a blue five-pointed star in the center and plain red; the bottom quadrants are plain blue (hoist side) and white with a red five-pointed star in the center; the blue and red colors are those of the main political parties (Conservatives and Liberals respectively) and the white denotes peace between them; the blue star stands for the civic virtues of purity and honesty, the red star signifies authority and law

National symbol(s)

harpy eagle; national colors: blue, white, red

National anthem

name: "Himno Istmeno" (Isthmus Hymn)

lyrics/music: Jeronimo DE LA OSSA/Santos A. JORGE

note: adopted 1925

Economy

Economy - overview

Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for more than three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Trade Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Panama's transportation and logistics services sectors, along with infrastructure development projects, have boosted economic growth; however, public debt surpassed $32 billion in 2015 because of excessive government spending and public works projects. The US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2011, and entered into force in October 2012.

Growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is estimated to be completed by 2016 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 10-15% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The United States and China are the top users of the Canal. In 2014 Panama completed a metro system in Panama City, valued at $1.2 billion.

Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About one-fourth of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2012 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 88/230

$82.18 billion (2015 est.)

$77.52 billion (2014 est.)

$73 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$47.47 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 27/225

6% (2015 est.)

6.2% (2014 est.)

8.4% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 85/230

$20,900 (2015 est.)

$19,700 (2014 est.)

$18,600 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 91/179

18.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

17% of GDP (2014 est.)

17.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 51.3%

government consumption: 10.8%

investment in fixed capital: 28.1%

investment in inventories: 8.2%

exports of goods and services: 72.6%

imports of goods and services: -71%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3%

industry: 20%

services: 77% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp

Industries

construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling

Industrial production growth rate 36/202

4.5% (2015 est.)

Labor force 131/233

1.587 million

note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 17%

industry: 18.6%

services: 64.4% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate 44/207

4.5% (2015 est.)

4.5% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

26% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.1%

highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 16/144

51.9 (2010 est.)

56.1 (2003)

Budget

revenues: $10.18 billion

expenditures: $11.42 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 148/219

21.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 96/220

-2.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 113/176

39.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

37.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 51/226

0.5% (2015 est.)

2.6% (2014 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 123/184

6.7% (31 December 2015 est.)

6.83% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 84/192

$8.674 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$8.317 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 75/193

$36.14 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$34.65 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 65/191

$42.53 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$38.67 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 70/121

$12.54 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

$10.68 billion (31 December 2011)

$8.348 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 167/197

-$4.647 billion (2015 est.)

-$5.257 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 75/224

$15.85 billion (2015 est.)

$15.34 billion (2014 est.)

note: includes the Colon Free Zone

Exports - commodities

fruit and nuts, fish, iron and steel waste, wood

Exports - partners

US 19.8%, Germany 10.7%, China 8.5%, Costa Rica 6.7%, Netherlands 5.2%, Vietnam 4.3% (2014)

Imports 69/223

$23.29 billion (2015 est.)

$23.47 billion (2014 est.)

note: includes the Colon Free Zone

Imports - commodities

fuels, machinery, vehicles, iron and steel rods, pharmaceuticals

Imports - partners

US 25.1%, China 8.1%, Mexico 4.2% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 99/170

$4.182 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$4.032 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 96/206

$15.47 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$13.88 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 61/120

$44.96 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$41.06 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 60/105

$10.13 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$9.385 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

balboas (PAB) per US dollar -

1 (2015 est.)

1 (2014 est.)

1 (2013 est.)

1 (2012 est.)

1 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 101/220

8.361 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 103/219

7.144 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 84/218

59 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports 108/219

19 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 101/214

2.396 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 168/214

38.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 165/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 35/214

61.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 212/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 180/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 176/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 114/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 180/215

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 122/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 70/212

134,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 124/214

22.03 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 43/213

129,200 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 118/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 186/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 164/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 121/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 184/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 89/212

16.23 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 92/219

total subscriptions: 590,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 110/217

total: 6.2 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 172 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: domestic and international facilities well-developed

domestic: mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased rapidly

international: country code - 507; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), the MAYA-1, and PAN-AM submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System (2011)

Broadcast media

multiple privately owned TV networks and a government-owned educational TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV subscription services are available; more than 100 commercial radio stations (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 101, FM 134, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

38 (including repeaters) (1998)

Internet country code

.pa

Internet hosts 132/232

11,022 (2012)

Internet users 105/217

total: 1.7 million

percent of population: 48.4% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 49/236

117 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 57

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 20

under 914 m: 30 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 60

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 8

under 914 m: 51 (2013)

Heliports

3 (2013)

Pipelines

oil 128 km (2013)

Railways 129/136

total: 77 km

standard gauge: 77 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 122/223

total: 15,137 km

paved: 6,351 km

unpaved: 8,786 km (2010)

Waterways 72/107

800 km (includes the 82-km Panama Canal that is being widened) (2011)

Merchant marine 1/156

total: 6,413

by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 2,525, cargo 1,115, carrier 27, chemical tanker 588, combination ore/oil 1, container 742, liquefied gas 205, passenger 42, passenger/cargo 51, petroleum tanker 545, refrigerated cargo 191, roll on/roll off 87, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 290

foreign-owned: 5,151 (Albania 4, Argentina 5, Australia 4, Bahamas 6, Bangladesh 5, Belgium 1, Bermuda 27, Brazil 3, Bulgaria 6, Burma 3, Canada 6, Chile 14, China 534, Colombia 2, Croatia 2, Cuba 2, Cyprus 5, Denmark 41, Ecuador 3, Egypt 11, Finland 2, France 7, Gabon 1, Germany 24, Gibraltar 1, Greece 379, Hong Kong 144, India 24, Indonesia 10, Iran 5, Ireland 1, Israel 1, Italy 25, Japan 2372, Jordan 11, Kuwait 12, Lebanon 2, Lithuania 3, Luxembourg 1, Malaysia 12, Maldives 2, Malta 2, Mexico 5, Monaco 11, Netherlands 6, Nigeria 6, Norway 81, Oman 10, Pakistan 3, Peru 9, Philippines 5, Portugal 10, Qatar 1, Romania 3, Russia 49, Saudi Arabia 11, Singapore 92, South Korea 373, Spain 30, Sweden 2, Switzerland 15, Syria 34, Taiwan 328, Tanzania 2, Thailand 6, Turkey 62, UAE 83, UK 37, Ukraine 8, US 90, Venezuela 13, Vietnam 43, Yemen 4)

registered in other countries: 1 (Honduras 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Balboa, Colon, Cristobal

container port(s) (TEUs): Balboa (3,232,265), Colon (2,390,976), Manzanillo (2,391,066)

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces; Panamanian Public Security Forces (subordinate to the Ministry of Public Security), comprising the National Police (PNP), National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), National Border Service (SENAFRONT) (2013)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 15,551 (Colombia) (2014)

Illicit drugs

major cocaine transshipment point and primary money-laundering center for narcotics revenue; money-laundering activity is especially heavy in the Colon Free Zone; offshore financial center; negligible signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem