Panama - Infrastructure, power, and communications

The nation's infrastructure is relatively well developed. Roads in the urban areas are generally good, but in the rural areas of the nation they remain poor. Panama has 11,258 kilometers (6,996 miles) of roads, but only 3,783 kilometers (2,350 miles) are paved. Plans are underway for the construction of 2 major superhighways that will be funded through tolls. In addition, there are 355 kilometers (220 miles) of railways. The government is in the midst of a program to privatize the nation's main railway, the Panama-Colón Railroad. In addition, a joint venture between the U.S. companies, Kansas City Southern Industries and Mi-Jack Products, is investing US$73 million to rebuild a rail line parallel with the canal and across the nation. There are 105 airports in the country, but only 41 have paved runways. The withdrawal of the Americans from the Canal Zone has provided the government with a former military airfield that can serve as a major international airport. There are 130 kilometers (81 miles) of crude oil pipelines in Panama.

In addition to the 80-kilometer (50-mile) Panama Canal, the country has 800 kilometers (497 miles) of navigable waterways, although most of these can only be used by shallow-draft vessels. The major ports in Panama are Balboa, Cristobal, Coco Solo, Manzanillo, and Vacamonte. The international shipping terminal in Manzanillo is the largest container port in Latin America. Hutchison Port Holdings of Hong Kong has initiated a $150 million port project to develop a port facility on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. Panama allows ships of other nations

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Panama 62 299 187 N/A 29 N/A 27.1 2.97 45
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Mexico 97 325 261 15.7 35 3.0 47.0 23.02 1,822
Costa Rica 94 271 387 13.8 28 2.3 39.1 10.41 150
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

to register themselves under the Panamanian flag. In 2000, there were 4,732 ship registered under Panamanian registry, including ships from 71 different nations. Given these ships, Panama has the largest merchant fleet in the world, followed by Liberia with 1,644 ships.

The nation's telecommunications company is in the midst of a multi-million-dollar upgrade and expansion of the country's phone system. INTEL employs about 3,400 people, and the government retains 49 percent of the company's stock. Panama's telephone density is close to 200 phone lines per 1,000 people. The U.S. firm, Bell South, paid $72.6 million for the rights to offer cellular service. Both Bell South and the national telephone company have begun to offer cellular phone service, and the country has about 200,000 mobile phones in use. By 1999, Panama had 3 Internet service providers.

Electric production in the country in 1998 was 4.523 billion kilowatt hours (kWh). Electric consumption was 4.3 billion kWh. The excess production was exported. The majority of production (73.78 percent) was done by hydroelectric plants. Fossil fuel provided the majority of the rest of production (25.56 percent). That same year, Panama imported 136 million kWh of electricity and exported 13 million kWh.

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