Country Profile

Though one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies, Panama’s political situation stands in contrast to its economic performance. The past decade has seen sustained economic growth, while institutional development struggled to keep pace. Though more than two decades of peaceful democratic transfers of power have facilitated economic development, Panama is now faced with the challenge of maintaining steady growth while overcoming a number of hurdles, in particular marked social inequality and a lagging education system. The government of Juan Carlos Varela has placed particular emphasis on social programmes and the fight against corruption, a move expected to lead the country to improved governance and less social inequality. Though it is too soon to judge the overall effectiveness of the current administration’s efforts to create a more transparent government, by and large the encouraging trajectory of the Central American republic looks set to continue in the future.

This chapter features interviews with Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Victoria Marina Velásquez de Avilés, Secretary General, Central American Integration System (SICA); Gina Montiel, Manager, Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, Inter-American Development Bank.