Panama Government Stats


Conservative supermarket magnate Ricardo Martinelli was elected to succeed Martin Torrijos with a landslide victory at the April 2009 presidential election.

Standing for the four-party opposition Alliance for Change, Mr Martinelli gained 61% of the vote, against 37% for Balbina Herrera, the candidate of the governing left-wing Democratic Revolutionary Party.

The result appeared to run counter a wider Latin American trend towards the left.

With Panama's recent rapid rate of economic growth slowing as a result of the global economic slump, Mr Martinelli's business background attracted many voters fearful about job losses.

The previous government was blamed for rising crime and a surge in prices, and Mr Martinelli tapped into feelings that little had been done to spread the wealth created in the economic boom to low-income Panamanians.

Free trade deal

During the campaign, he promised to promote free trade, especially with the US, Panama's biggest trading partner, and to encourage foreign investment.

Days after being elected, Mr Martinelli said one of his priorities would be the ratification of a free trade deal with the US.

Among his proposals were a flat income tax of between 10% and 20% to draw investors to the country, as well as an ambitious public works programme.

He also promised to forge ahead with a $5.25bn expansion plan for the Panama Canal, the country's main engine for economic growth.

Mr Martinelli was born in 1952 in Panama City, and has a degree from the University of Arkansas. Apart from owning the Super 99 supermarket chain, he has interests in several other businesses, including banks and agricultural firms.

He is the leader of the Democratic Change party founded in 1998, and unsuccessfully stood for president in 2004.


  • Administrative divisions: This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by BGN are noted.
  • Capital city > Geographic coordinates: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
  • Constitution: The dates of adoption, revisions, and major amendments to a nation's constitution
  • Diplomatic representation from the US > Mailing address: This entry includes the chief of mission, embassy address, mailing address, telephone number, FAX number, branch office locations, consulate general locations, and consulate locations.
  • Executive branch > Cabinet: Cabinet includes the official name for any body of high-ranking advisers roughly comparable to a U.S. Cabinet. Also notes the method for selection of members.
  • Executive branch > Chief of state: The name and title of any person or role roughly equivalent to a U.S. Chief of State. This means the titular leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions but may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government
  • Executive branch > Head of government: Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government. For example, in the UK, the monarch is the chief of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. In the US, the president is both the chief of state and the head of government.
  • Government type: A description of the basic form of government (e.g., republic, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship).
  • International organization participation: This entry lists in alphabetical order by abbreviation those international organizations in which the subject country is a member or participates in some other way.
  • Judicial branch: The name(s) of the highest court(s) and a brief description of the selection process for members.
  • Legal system: A brief description of the legal system's historical roots, role in government, and acceptance of International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.
  • Legislative branch: This entry contains information on the structure (unicameral, bicameral, tricameral), formal name, number of seats, and term of office. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote and/or number of seats held by each party in the last election.
  • Political parties and leaders: Significant political organizations and their leaders.
  • Political pressure groups and leaders: Organizations with leaders involved in politics, but not standing for legislative election.
  • Suffrage: The age at enfranchisement and whether the right to vote is universal or restricted
Administrative divisions 9 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, Veraguas 2013
Capital city > Geographic coordinates 8 58 N, 79 32 W 2008
Constitution 11 October 1972; revised several times 2012
Diplomatic representation from the US > Mailing address American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002; American Embassy Panama, 9100 Panama City PL, Washington, DC 20521-9100 2013
Executive branch > Cabinet Cabinet appointed by the president 2013
Executive branch > Chief of state President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez (since 1 July 2009) 2013
Executive branch > Head of government President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez (since 1 July 2009) 2013
Government type constitutional democracy 2013
International organization participation BCIE, CAN (observer), CD, CELAC, CSN (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), 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, PCA, SICA, UN, UNASUR (observer), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO 2013
Judicial branch Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for staggered 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal 2012
Legal system civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice 2013
Legislative branch unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional 2011
Political parties and leaders Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal]
Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Juan Carlos NAVARRO Quelquejeu]
Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]
Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez] (formerly the Arnulfista Party)
Popular Party or PP [Milton 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
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal and compulsory 2013

SOURCES: CIA World Factbooks 18 December 2003 to 28 March 2011


"Panama Government Stats", NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Panama/Government

  • Panama ranked second for democracy > civil and political liberties amongst Hot countries in 2001.


Hi Alicia, President Martin Torrijos became head of the state of Panama in September 2004, taking over from Arturo Ulises Vallarino who was President from September 1999.

Posted on 05 Mar 2005

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor