Panama Culture

Panama Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Panama

According to EHEALTHFACTS.ORG, Panama is a country located in North America. In Panama there are eight newspapers with a total edition of about 180,000 copies. The oldest yet published daily newspaper is La Estrella de Panamá, founded in 1853 (edition: 20,000 copies). The largest are Critíca Libre, El Siglo and La Prensa, which all have an edition of about 40,000 items. Press freedom has prevailed since 1990.

Panama has over 100 radio stations, most of them private. TV has a strong spread with about thirty TV channels. There are six private broadcasters; State television focuses on education and culture. There are 300 radio and 194 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to CALCULATORINC, the cultural life reflects the mixed composition of the population. Indigenous traditions are interwoven with Spanish customs and Afro-Caribbean influences. The music has much in common with music played in the coastal regions of Colombia and Venezuela, with the influence of African and Spanish music.

Salsa has an obvious place in music and salsa king Rubén Blades (1948–) is known far beyond the borders of the country. Blades is also an actor and politically active; he was presidential candidate in 1994. The classical Panamanian folk dance tambor, or tamborito, is considered a national dance and is accompanied by drums.

The indigenous peoples’ influence is not least visible in crafts, such as kuna’s textile art in the form of molasses, embellishment on blouses which are also sold as works of art.

An important twentieth-century author was the award-winning Panamanian Rogelio Sinán (1902-1994) who wrote both prose, drama and poetry. Artists include Roberto Lewis (1874-1949). Among other things, he made murals for the presidential palace and the national theater in the early 1900s.



New bridge across the canal

December 4th

The government signs a contract with a Chinese consortium, Panamá Cuarto Puente, to build a bridge over the Panama Canal. It is one of the most extensive infrastructure projects in the country’s history, worth $ 1.4 billion. The announcement of the settlement comes just the day after China’s president left Panama.

Chinese President visiting

December 2

President Juan Carlos Varela receives China’s President Xi Jinping and the two sign a series of cooperation agreements on infrastructure, tourism and development projects. Panama becomes the first country in Latin America to become a partner in China’s ambitious Belt and Road project. The visit is a result of Panama switching relations with Taiwan to those with China (see June 2017) – a step that El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have also taken.


Ex-president’s sons are arrested in the United States

20th of November

Former President Ricardo Martinelli’s two wanted sons are arrested in the United States (see May 23, 2017). US authorities say the men have stayed in the country illegally since their visa was revoked in 2017.


Detained ex-president wins primary election

October 2

Former President Ricardo Martinelli wins the primary election in the right-wing Democratic Change (CD), with 44 percent of the vote. Thus, Martinelli is slated to become the party’s presidential candidate in the May 2019 election, despite being in custody (see June 2018) and prosecutors in a preliminary hearing seeking 21 years in prison.


Ex-President Martinelli is extradited from the US

June 11

Former President Ricardo Martinelli is extradited from the US where he was detained (see June 2017). Martinelli is accused of corruption and illegal telephone interception by 150 people. He himself says he is subject to political persecution.


Strike paralyzes port city

14th of March

The riots and looting hit Colón during a strike in protest of the government’s plans for a radical overhaul of residential areas and infrastructure in the city. Residents fear gentrification, ie renovations that lead to social status raising and drive away poor people. Several police officers are injured in clashes with protesters, 50 people are arrested and a historic building is burned down. The maintenance of residential areas and infrastructure in Colón has been neglected for a long time.


Panama is releasing tax haven status

January 23

The EU deletes Panama and seven other countries and territories from a newly published list of tax havens. They are now being transferred to a “gray” list of 55 countries that have pledged to adapt to EU standards in tax and financial legislation, but without specific commitments. The EU published its first “black” list in early December. Now only nine countries / territories remain on that list.

Panama Culture

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