A State Of The United States Of Colombia, occupying the isthmus connecting North and South America, between lat. 6° 45' and 9° 40' N, and Ion. 77° and 83° W.; area, 31,921 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 220,542. Its general form is an arc curving from E. to "W. with its convex side toward the north. On the southeast it joins the state of Cauca; on the west it is bounded by Costa Rica. In its widest part the distance from sea to sea, through the peninsula of Azuero, is about 120 m.; in the narrowest, between the gulf of San Bias and the mouth of Bayano river, about 30 m.; following the line of the Panama railway, 47 1/2 m. The coast line on the Caribbean sea is about 450 m. long, and forms a reverse curve, convex from the gulf of Darien to Point Manzanillo, and concave from thence to the Doraces river. The principal bays are Caledonia bay and the gulf of San Bias, in the latter of which are the islands forming the Mulatas archipelago, Limon or Navy bay, and the Ohiriqui lagoon. The chief ports are Puerto Escoces in Caledonia bay, San Bias, Portobello, Colon or Aspinwall in Limon bay, and Chiriqui. On the Pacific coast the bay of Panama makes an indentation about 110 m. deep and 122 m. wide at its mouth. Its W. coast is formed by the peninsula of Azuero, which extends S. E. from the mainland about 75 m.
There are many islands in the bay, the principal of which are the Pearl islands. At its N. extremity are the city and port of Panama, and on its E. coast is the gulf of San Miguel, which contains a good port. There are also several smaller ports on the "W. coast. Beyond the peninsula of Azuero the coast of the isthmus is broken by the bay of Montijo, which contains several islands. The largest of these, Coiba, has an area of 180 sq. m., and contains the port of Damas. From the Atlantic coast the isthmus appears to be traversed through, its entire length by a range of high mountains, the continuation of the Andes, but surveys have proved that in some parts the elevation does not exceed 300 ft. above the level of the sea. From this dividing ridge about 150 streams flow into the Atlantic, and more than twice as many into the Pacific. The largest of these is the river Tui-ra, which rises in the sierra on the borders of Cauca, and empties into the gulf of San Miguel; it is 162 m. long, and is navigable for barges for 102 m. The Chagres, which falls into the Caribbean sea a little W. of Limon bay, is navigable by bongos for about 30 m.
The Chepo, after a W. N. W. course of about 75 m., turns S. and empties into the bay of Panama. Among the minerals of Panama are gold, mercury, copper, iron, salt, gypsum, lime, and coal. The product of the gold mines - once considerable, as is attested by the ancient name of the isthmus, Castilla de Oro, and by the large quantities of the metal formerly extracted from the huacas of Chiriqui - is now insignificant, being probably less than $100,-000 annually. Coal is mined in Bocas del Toro and other places. There are several thermal springs, and salt is an important product. The climate is very hot on the coasts; on the flanks of the mountains in the interior it is relatively cool, but miasmatic fevers prevail everywhere. The seasons are the wet and the dry, the former lasting from May to December inclusive; July, August, and September are the hottest months. Nearly all the vegetable products of the torrid zone grow luxuriantly, and much of the surface is covered with dense forests, in which are found many of the most valuable kinds of timber, dye, cabinet, and medicinal woods, and shrubs. Codazzi enumerates 55 varieties of fruit trees. Conspicuous among the trees are the giant cedars and the palms, among the latter of which are the wine, sago, ivory, glove, cabbage, and cocoa palms.
In the rainy season, when the blossoming trees are festooned with flowering vines and epiphytes, the forests are magnificent almost beyond description. The fauna corresponds with that of the lower Magdalena valley, excepting the monkeys and parrots, which are not equalled in variety and number elsewhere N. of the forests of the Amazon. Taboga island in the bay of Panama is noted for the number and great size of the turtles found there. The Pearl islands were once celebrated for their pearl fisheries, but the oysters are now nearly exhausted, and in 1874 the fishing was prohibited by law for a term of years. Agriculture is very backward, and not more than one tenth of the surface is cultivated. Maize and rice are the principal grains; coffee, cacao, tobacco, and sugar cane are raised for home consumption; cotton is indigenous and perennial, and the indigo plant grows spontaneously. Manufacturing industry is limited to the production of cloth and grass hammocks, coarse linen, grass hats and knapsacks, pack saddles, matting, tiles, small boats, sails, soap, and a few other articles. Among the products exported are cocoanuts, cocoanut oil, bananas, caoutchouc, and tortoise shells.
The foreign trade is carried on principally through the ports of Panama and Aspinwall, the termini of the Panama railway. As no official accounts are kept, the commerce proper of the isthmus cannot be distinguished from the transit trade. The latter amounts to the estimated annual value of $50,000,000, about two thirds of which represents that from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The only railway is that from Panama to Aspinwall, 47 1/2 m. long, which is owned and controlled by an American company. It was begun in 1850, and on Jan. 28, 1855, the first train passed over it. Its cost was $7,500,000. The finest work on the road is the iron bridge over the Chagres, which is 625 ft. long and 40 ft. above the water, and cost $500,000. The only advantages reserved from the railway company by the government are 3 per cent, of its net revenues, and $10,000 annually as a compensation for the free transit of all foreign mails. In connection with the railway are lines of steamers between Aspinwall and New York, and Panama and San Francisco; and other lines, British, French, and Chilian, touch at one or the other of these ports. All the ports are now free. A submarine cable connecting Aspinwall and Kingston, Jamaica, was broken in 1872, and has not yet (1875) been repaired.
A cable from "Valparaiso to Panama, touching at the principal intermediate ports, is projected. Public education is beginning to receive attention. At the commencement of 1874 there were no public schools, but before its close there were 16, well attended. The isthmus was formerly divided into the provinces of Azuero, Chiriqui, Panama, and Veragua, but in 1865 the several provinces were formed into the state of Panama, of which each now constitutes a department.
Besides the capital, Panama, the other chief towns are Santiago, Montijo, David, Porto-bello, Colon or Aspinwall, Chagres, and Santos. - Columbus, in his last voyage in 1502, discovered Chiriqui lagoon, and established a colony at Belen, but it was soon abandoned. The first permanent settlement was that of Portobello by Nicuesa, in 1510. The Pacific was first reached by Balboa, Sept. 26, 1513. In 1514 reports of the immense riches of Cas-tilla de Oro, as the country was then called, led to the expedition of Pedrarias Davila, who transferred the seat of government in 1518 to Panama. In 1586 Drake sacked Portobello; the buccaneers under Morgan took it in 1665, and in 1670 reduced the castle of San Lorenzo at Chagres and burned Panama. In 1680 they crossed the isthmus under Sharp, Ringrose, and Dampier, and took the city of Santa Maria, which led to the closing of the gold mines of Cana in 1685 by royal decree. In 1698 William Paterson founded a Scotch colony at Puerto Escoces, on Caledonia bay. (See Daeien, Colony of.) In 1719 the Catholic missionaries had established several towns on the Atlantic coast and on the rivers flowing into the gulf of San Miguel, but they were all destroyed by the Indians. In 1790 a treaty of peace was made with the Indians of Darien, in compliance with which the Spaniards abandoned all their forts in that district. - The isthmus of Panama has derived its chief importance from its supposed facilities for the construction of an interoceanic canal.
Since 1528 the idea has been mooted of opening a canal between the river Chagres (falling into the Caribbean sea at the town of that name) and the Grande, falling into the Pacific near Panama, or the Trinidad and Caimito. The route was examined by two Flemish engineers under the orders of Philip II.; but for political reasons the king ordered that no one should revive the subject under penalty of death. In 1826 Domingo Lopez, a native of Colombia, traced a new line for a canal between Panama and Portobello. But the first formal exploration was made in 1827, under the orders of Gen. Bolivar, by the engineers Lloyd and Falmark. Their labors, concluded in 1829, proved that a railway, if not a canal, could readily be built between Chagres and Panama. In 1843 the French government sent out Messrs. Garella and Cour-tines to make examinations. Garella reported in favor of a canal from Limon bay, to pass under the dividing ridge of Ahogayegua by a tunnel 120 ft. high and 17,390 ft. long, to the bay of Vaca del Monte, 12 m.
W. of Panama. In 1852 the government of New Granada conceded to Dr. Cullen and others the privilege of building a canal between Caledonia bay and the gulf of San Miguel. In 1864 Mr. Kelley of New York surveyed a route from the gulf of San Bias to the river Chepo, which would require a long tunnel. In 1865 M. de la Charme surveyed a line from the S. part of the gulf of Darien to the gulf of San Miguel, via the river Tuira. In the same year M. de Puydt, an engineer employed by the French international Colombian company, announced the discovery of a favorable passage from the port of Escondido to the Tuira, and thence into the gulf of San Miguel. In 1870 Capt. Selfridge, U. S. N., surveyed two lines from Caledonia bay by different routes to the mouths of the rivers Sabana and Lara on the Pacific, but found no lower level on the Cordillera than 1,000 ft. Another line run from the bay of San Bias to the Chepo river was still more unfavorable. In 1871 he examined the line of M. de Puydt and found it impracticable. In 1874 two other expeditions were sent out by the United States government, one to survey a line between the Atrato and the Pacific, across the Colombian state of Cauca, and the other a line parallel with the Panama railway.
Their reports are about to be published.
A City, capital of the state, situated on the bay of the same name, in lat. 8° 56' K, Ion. 79° 31' 2" W.; pop. about 11,000. It occupies a rocky peninsula extending from the base of the volcanic hill of Ancon about one fourth of a mile into the bay. The houses are mostly of stone, built in the Spanish style, the larger ones with courtyards and balconies, and the smaller with but one story. The only buildings of note are the cathedral, the churches, the cabildo or town hall, and the warehouses of the Panama railway. The bay is shallow, so that only small vessels can approach the shore, and the roadstead, though protected by several small outlying islands, is dangerous on account of the frequency of northers; but ships find excellent anchorage at the neighboring island of Taboga, where they take in water. About 2 1/2 m. from the town are the islands of Perico and Flamenco, the stations of the California and Central American company's steamers. On the latter island are docks and other facilities for repairing vessels. Passengers and freight are carried from the steamers on steam tugs and landed on a pier which extends 450 ft. into the bay. .The average rise and fall of the tide is 12 ft. Panama has a large commerce, but most of it is due to the transit trade.
The arrivals of steamers average 13 a month, and of sailing vessels not more than 100 a year. The steamers comprise two American lines connecting with San Francisco and the Mexican and Central American ports, and British, French, and Chilian lines running to Guayaquil, Callao, Valparaiso, and intermediate ports. The coasting trade is carried on in schooners and bongos, their freight consisting principally of caoutchouc and provisions. - Panama was founded in 1518 by Pedrarias Davila, about 6 m. N". E. of the present site, to which it was transferred after the destruction of the old city by the buccaneers in 1670. It has suffered much from disastrous fires: in 1737, when it was almost entirely destroyed, and in 1864, 1870, and 1874, the loss in the last year amounting to $1,000,000.
Cathedral of Panama.