Panama is a Central American country known for its Panama Canal, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and offering a shortcut route around South America. The canal's strategic importance led to the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama and the deposing of former U.S. ally, Manuel Noriega. In 1977, under President Jimmy Carter, a treaty was signed which gave control of the canal to Panama in 1999. 
The BBC writes that Panama "needs to address social inequality. Elite families of European descent control most of Panama's wealth and power, while about 40% of the population live below the poverty line." 
- Former President, Nicolas Ardito Barletta
- Project Z British American Tobacco
Panama's media are free to present news and comment. Laws which penalised "insults" against state officials were repealed in 2005. Media rights organisation Reporters Without Borders noted in 2006 that political stability had stimulated the growth of "free and vigorous" media.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Country profile: Panama BBC, accessed December 2007.
- Panama, National Geographic, accessed December 2007.
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