Measuring only 50 kilometers across at its narrowest point, the slim ribbon of land that makes up Panama is at once a powerful connector of two vast continents and a stalwart divider of colossal oceans. Although it is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of South Carolina, Panama’s existence at the confluence of enormous land and sea masses preordained a mighty destiny for this young nation.
Having passed from one government to another for centuries, the area that is now Panama finally attained sovereignty in 1903 and control over all territory within its borders in 1999. A mere decade and a half after taking control of the canal, the country has bootstrapped itself into one of the world’s most vital and important economies, encompassing the globe’s second-busiest interoceanic canal (after Suez), the second largest free trade zone (after Hong Kong), and a significant regional banking center. These accomplishments are exceeded only by Panama’s ambition to be a global center of innovation and new business incubation.