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Panama ( ; (:panaˈma)), officially called the Republic of Panama ((スペイン語:República de Panamá)), is a country in Central America situated between North and South America. It is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metro area is home to nearly half of the country's 4.1 million people.
Panama was inhabited by several indigenous tribes prior to settlement by the Spanish in the 16th century. Panama broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined, eventually becoming the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the Panama Canal to be built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the total transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama by the end of the 20th century, which culminated on 31 December 1999.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Panama )〕
Revenue from canal tolls continues to represent a significant portion of Panama's GDP, although commerce, banking, and tourism are major and growing sectors. Panama has the second largest economy in Central America〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=CIA – The World Factbook – Field Listing – GDP (official exchange rate) ) And: (【引用サイトリンク】title=CIA – The World Factbook – Country Comparison – National product ) See also: (IMF.org )〕 and is also the fastest growing economy and largest per capita consumer in Central America. In 2013, Panama ranked 5th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index, and 59th in the world. Since 2010, Panama remains the second most competitive economy in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index. Covering around 40 percent of its land area, Panama's jungles are home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals – some of them to be found nowhere else on the planet.
There are several theories about the origin of the name "Panama". Some believe that the country was named after a commonly found species of tree (''Sterculia apetala'', the Panama tree). Others believe that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies abound, and that the name means "many butterflies" in an indigenous language.
The best-known version is that a fishing village and its nearby beach bore the name "Panamá", which meant "an abundance of fish". Captain Antonio Tello de Guzmán, while exploring the Pacific side in 1515, stopped in the small indigenous fishing town. This was communicated to the Crown and in 1517 Don Gaspar De Espinosa, a Spanish lieutenant, decided to settle a post there. In 1519, Pedrarias Dávila decided to establish the Empire's Pacific city in this site. The new settlement replaced Santa María La Antigua del Darién, which had lost its function within the Crown's global plan after the beginning of the Spanish exploitation of the riches in the Pacific.
Blending all of the above together, Panamanians believe in general that the word Panama means "abundance of fish, trees and butterflies". This is the official definition given in social studies textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education in Panama. However, others believe the word ''Panama'' comes from the Kuna word "bannaba" which means "distant" or "far away".〔(【引用サイトリンク】 Origen del Nombre Panamá )〕
(詳細はCuevas and the Coclé tribes. These people have nearly disappeared, as they had no immunity from European infectious diseases.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』