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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

With expected growth of nearly 6% in 2017, and an average annual increase during the past five years of more than 7%, Panama continues to show greater economic strength than any any other Central American country, according to the International Monetary Fund.

It is also the wealthiest country in the region - including Colombia and Mexico - with per capita income of $13,500, nearly $2,000 more than Costa Rica in second place.

Logistics are an important part of the Panamanian economy.

A record 36 million tonnes of shipping passed through the Panama Canal last month, compared to 30 million tons before the inauguration of the expanded canal last June, according to Global Trade.

The canal last year had toll revenue of $1.9 billion, on which it paid $1 billion to the government, according to the canal authority.

The expanded section of the canal was built by a consortium made up of Spain’s FCC, Mexico’s ICA and Costa Rica’s Meco.

Panama is the shortest route for ships traveling between Shanghai and other northern Chinese ports, and the east coast of the United States.

Tocumen airport for its part is a hub for caribbean travelers going to Latin America and vice versa, often on Panama-based Copa Airlines.

Another important revenue source consists in providing financial services for investors, mainly from Latin America but also from the rest of the world.

Panama has close to 100 banks.

Problems include the lowest income equity in Central America, after Honduras, according to the United Nations, and poor relations among the country’s main ethnic groups - European, Caribbean and Indigenous.