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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Panamanian(s).
Population (July 2001 est.): 2.9 million.
Annual growth rate: 2%.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Indian and European ancestry) 70%, West Indian 14%, Caucasian 10%, Indian 8%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant (Evangelical) 15%, other 10%.
Languages: Spanish (official); 14% speak English as their native tongue; various Indian languages.
Education: Years compulsory--6. Attendance--95% for primary school-age children, 60% for secondary. Literacy--91.7% overall: urban 94%, rural 62%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--20.18/1,000. Life expectancy--75 yrs.
Work force (1.1 million): Commerce (wholesale and retail)--19.1%; agriculture, cattle, hunting, silviculture--14%; industries (manufactures)--8.8%; construction--7.7%; transportation, storage, communications--7.2%; public and defense administration--6.9%; other community and social activities--5.8%; hotels and restaurants--3.7%; financial intermediation--2.6%.
People of Panama
The culture, customs, and language of the Panamanians are predominantly Caribbean Spanish. Ethnically, the majority of the population is mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian) or mixed Spanish, Indian, Chinese, and West Indian. Spanish is the official and dominant language; English is a common second language spoken by the West Indians and by many in business and the professions. More than half the population lives in the Panama City-Colon metropolitan corridor.
Panama is rich in folklore and popular traditions. Brightly colored national dress is worn during local festivals and the pre-Lenten carnival season, especially for traditional folk dances like the tamborito. Lively salsa--a mixture of Latin American popular music, rhythm and blues, jazz, and rock--is a Panamanian specialty, and Ruben Blades its best-known performer. Indian influences dominate handicrafts such as the famous Kuna textile molas. Artist Roberto Lewis' Presidential Palace murals and his restoration work and ceiling in the National Theater are well known and admired.
More than 65,000 Panamanian students attend the University of Panama, the Technological University, and the University of Santa Maria La Antigua, a private Catholic institution. Including smaller colleges, there are 14 institutions of higher education in Panama. The first 6 years of primary education are compulsory, and there are about 357,000 students currently enrolled in grades one through six. The total enrollment in the six secondary grades is about 207,000. Nearly 90% of Panamanians are literate.