Central America Nicaragua Panama Honduras
Country Size • Panama - slightly smaller than South Carolina • total: 78,200 sq km, water: 2,210 sq km, land: 75,990 sq km • Nicaragua – between Honduras and Costa Rica • total: 129,494 sq km, water: 9,240 sq km,land: 120,254 sq km • Honduras – slightly larger than Tennessee • total: 112,090 sq km, water: 200 sq km land: 111,890
Population Capital City • Panama – Panama City • Nicaragua – Managua • Honduras - Tegucigalpa (July 2003 est.) • Panama - 2,960,784 • Nicaragua – 5,128,517 • Honduras – 6,669,789
Language Religion • Panama – Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15% • Nicaragua – Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant15% • Honduras – Roman Catholic 97% • Panama – Spanish and Englishnote: many Panamanians bilingual • Nicaragua – Spanish • Honduras – Spanish, Amerindian dialects
Background Information • Panama – With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). With US help, dictator Manuel NORIEGA was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and remaining US military bases were turned over to Panama by or on 31 December 1999.
Background Information • Nicaragua – The Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. The US intervened and as to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas defeated. The country is currently rebuilding its economy.
Background Information • Honduras – Part of Spain’s vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and one-half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. During the 1980’s, Honduras proved a haven for anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to Salvadoran Government forces fighting against leftist guerrillas. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused almost $1 billion in damage.
Government Type • Panama – Constitutional Democracy • Nicaragua – Republic • Honduras – Democratic Constitutional Republic
Legal System • Panama – based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice • Nicaragua – civil law system, similar to Panama. • Honduras – civil law rooted in Roman and Spanish with increasing influence from English common law
Economy • Panama – Panama's economy is based primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-fourths of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. A slump in Colon Free Zone and agricultural exports, the global slowdown, and the withdrawal of US military forces held back economic growth in 2000-02. The government has been backing public works programs, tax reforms, new regional trade agreements, and development of tourism in order to stimulate growth.
Economy • Nicaragua – Nicaragua, one of the hemisphere's poorest countries, faces low per capita income, flagging socio-economic indicators, and huge external debt. Distribution of income is one of the most unequal on the globe. While the country has made progress toward macroeconomic stability over the past few years, a banking crisis and scandal has shaken the economy. They currently rely mainly on aid from foreign countries and private investors.
Economy • Honduras – One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with an extraordinary unequal distribution of income, is banking on expanded trade privileges under the Enhanced Caribbean Basin Initiative and on debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. While the country has met most of its macroeconomic targets, it failed to meet the IMF’s goals to liberalize its energy and telecommunications sectors. Growth remains dependent on the status of the US economy, its major trading partner, on commodity prices, particularly coffee, and on reduction of the high crime rate.
Labor Force Labor Force by Occupation • Panama – agriculture 20.8%, industry 18%, services 61.2% (1995 est.) • Nicaragua – services 43%, agriculture 42%, industry 15% (1999 est.) • Honduras – agriculture 34%, industry 21%, services 45% • Panama – 1.1 million note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2000 est.) • Nicaragua – 1.7 million • Honduras – 2.3 million
Exports Imports • Panama – $6.7 billion • capital goods, crude oil, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals • Nicaragua – $1.7 billion • machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products, consumer goods • Honduras – $2.7 billion f.o.b. • Machinery and transport equip., industrial raw materials, chemical products, fuels, foodstuffs • Panama – $5.8 billion • bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing • Nicaragua – $637 million. • coffee, shrimp and lobster, cotton, tobacco, bananas, beef, sugar, gold. • Honduras – $1.3 billion f.o.b. • coffee, bananas, shrimp, lobster, meat; zinc, lumber
Currency Exchange Rate • Panama – balboas per US dollar - 1 (2002) • Nicaragua – 14.2513 Corboda to 1 Dollar (2002) • Honduras – 16.4 lempiras/US dollar • Panama – balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD) • Nicaragua –– Gold Corboda • Honduras – lempira (HNL)
ISP’s Internet Users • Panama – 45,000 (2000) • Nicaragua – 20,000 (2000) • Honduras – 40,000 • Panama – 6 • Nicaragua – 3 • Honduras – 8
Transnational Issues • Panama – Illicit Drugs - major cocaine transshipment point and primary money laundering center for narcotics revenue; money-laundering activity is especially heavy in the Colon Free Zone; offshore financial center; negligible signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem
Transnational Issues • Nicaragua – Major border disputes with neighboring countries over locations such as the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank region, and the San Juan River. Also, a transshipment point for drug and arms dealings.
Transnational Issues • Honduras – In 1992, ICJ ruled on the delimitation of “bolsones” (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras border, but they still remain largely undemarcated; in 2002, El Salvador filed an application to the ICJ to revise the decision on a section of bolsones; the ICJ also advised a tripartite resolution to a maritime boundary in the Golfo de Fonseca with consideration of Honduran access to the Pacific; El Salvador claims tiny Conejo Island, not mentioned by the ICJ, off Hounduras in the Golfo de Fonseca; Honduras claims Sapodilla Cays off the coast of Belize but agreed to creation of a joint ecological park and Guatemalan corridor in the Caribbean in the 2002 Belize-Guatemala Differendum; Nicaragua filed a claim against Honduras in 1999 and against Colombia in 2001 at the ICJ over a complex maritime dispute in the Caribbean Sea.
Principal Differences • Economic strife • Drug trafficking • Panama Canal • Small land mass • High percentage of unskilled workers • Extremely low incomes • Less technology • Similar language throughout region
Central America Region Study Part II
Historical Culture Central America – Historically called Mesoamerica Mes·o·a·mer·i·ca - A region extending south and east from central Mexico to include parts of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In pre-Columbian times it was inhabited by diverse civilizations, including the Mayan and the Olmec. Central America’s history and culture are predominantly Indian inundated. It’s geography is rich in Indian tribesbranging from the Aztec’s in the central highlands, to the mayan’s that dominated the lowlands.
Basic Aztec History The great empire of the Aztecs and its capital city of Tenochtitlan flourished in the central valley of Mexico just before the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. The Aztecs were late comers to the Valley of Mexico, heirs of ancient cultures and traditions that had flourished there for over 3000 years. Legend says they left their original homeland of Aztlan around A.D.1100. They arrived in the Central Plateau around 1200. Tenochtitlan, founded in 1325, was built on a rocky island in Lake Texcoco where the Aztecs discovered an eagle perched on a cactus with a serpent in its mouth. They had been told by Huitzilopochtli, their patron god, that this symbol, still the emblem of modern Mexico, would mark the spot for their capital city. In 1519 the expanding Aztec empire was governed by the semidivine emperor Moctezuma II. He ruled over a highly stratified society of nobles, commoners, serfs and slaves. His magnificent palace stood at the center of the empire's capital Tenochtitlan, the sacred and secular heart of the Aztec state. This beautiful island city, located where Mexico City stands today, was constructed on a series of artificial islands with canals for streets, towering pyramids and slendid public buildings. In 1519 it had a population of at least 250,000 people, making it one of the largest urban centers in the world. The city was connected to the mainland by three great causeways. Along these causeways ran aqueducts carrying fresh water to the pools and public fountains of the town. The canal system supplied efficient transportation and thousands of canoes carried goods and people through the city and to surrounding villages on the lake shore. For the Aztecs this method of transport was particularly important as, like all the prehispanic cultures of the Americas, they lacked draft animals and the wheel. In this sophisticated metropolis were government buildings, schools, great markets, ball courts, temples, pyramids, palaces and simple homes. At its center was the sacred precinct where the gods of the Aztec pantheon were worshiped through song, dance, ritual and human sacrifice. At the heart of the precinct stood the Templo Mayor, or "great temple". This massive double pyramid structure was dedicated to the two most important gods of the Aztec empire, Tlaloc, god of rain, and Huitzilopotchli, god of war and the sun. These were the deities responsible for the sustenance of the Aztec state Tlaloc as provider of the empire's agricultural needs and Huitzilopotchli as provider of the wealth and tribute resulting from wars of conquest.
Basic Mayan History Maya Civilization developed in the Mesoamerican lowlands by 600 B.C.E. At Nakbe and El Mirador, the Maya erected elaborate ceremonial centers of stone and stucco buildings standing on pyramids and platforms. Even as El Mirador prospered, other important centers like Tikal and Uaxactún grew in importance, ushering in the Classic Period of Maya Civilization from 300 C.E. to 900. Maya life was governed by an intricate calendar system and a recently deciphered hieroglyphic script. Their writings tell us of a lowland civilization ruled by powerful lords, who presided over small city-states. Each state competed constantly with its neighbors, as different centers like Tikal, Palenque, and Copán vied for control of key trade routes and for political and religious prestige. Maya lords considered themselves intermediaries between the living and spiritual worlds. A small nobility controlled Maya society. Their power base gave way suddenly in about 900 C.E., probably as a result of partial ecological collapse as farmlands became exhausted. Nevertheless, Maya Civilization continued to flourish in the northern Yucatán until the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century C.E. In the highlands, the Toltecs held brief sway over the Valley of Mexico from about 900 C.E. to 1200, ruling their state from Tula, north of the valley. They may also have had some influence over lowland politics, for there is strong Toltec influence at Chichén Itzá, a great ceremonial center in the northern Yucatán. Political chaos followed the collapse of Toltec civilization in the 13th century. Eventually, the Aztecs, once nomadic farmers, rose to power in the Valley of Mexico. Link to Mesoamerican inspired art pieces
More Recent Cultural Styles: In the years since World War II, Latin American art, literature, and film have assumed a prominent international status. Many Latin American artists of the postwar era have used their work to engage in social and political struggles. Poets such as Nobel Prize–winner Pablo Neruda (1904–73), whose most famous work, Canto General (1950), explores the history of Latin America from the point of view of the workers and peasants, examined issues and social groups that had been all but ignored. Cuban poet Nicolás Guillen, too, used traditions drawn from Afro-Cuban folk culture to attack imperial domination in Latin America. Over the past 50 years, the novel and short story have emerged as the two dominant art forms of the region. In the 1940s, the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986) rose to international prominence with works such as Ficciones (1944), which used magic and fantasy as its primary vehicle. The Mexican Nobel laureate (1990) Octavio Paz published his major work, The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950), in the immediate postwar period. During the same years, writers such as Miguel A. Asturias, who wrote Men of Maize (1949), were developing the school of magical realism in Latin America. These authors blended myth, fantasy, and native imagery to produce works that might be understood from the perspective of Indian cultures or as rejections of the “logic” of Western literary narratives. The boom in Latin American fiction began in the 1960s. During this decade, the Mexican Carlos Fuentes (The Death of Artemio Cruz, 1962), the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa (Conversations in the Cathedral, 1970), and the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967) gained international prominence. García Márquez (b. 1928), perhaps the most prominent Latin American author, used magical realism to retell some of the most tragic events in Colombian history, mixing fantasy with reality, making the two part of everyday life. García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982. In the postwar period, the Latin American film industry also grew significantly, but it was not until the 1960s that Latin American filmmakers emerged as major artists. Cinema Nôvo in Brazil produced a wealth of films exploring poverty in the region, focusing particularly on the favelas (urban slums) of Brazil's cities. During the 1960s the Cuban film industry, led by figures such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Memories of Underdevelopment, 1968) launched a concerted assault against the dominance of Hollywood in the region. Elsewhere in Latin America, efforts at independent filmmaking have been frustrated by the lack of public and private funding.
Localized Web Site: LatinOL.com General Overview: LatinOL.com is an internet gateway for users from Central America, specifically Panama. The page is composed in entirely Spanish, the major language of this region, and the content focuses on this area. For instance, in the news section, the stories focus on current events in the region. There are also pages for localized events, such as car shows, and singer performances. Basically, this site is meant to cater to Panama, and it’s residents.
Localized Web Site: LatinOL.com Localization: This page contains a massive amount of content, much of it is information that applies globally, such as news. By having this information interpreted and reported by local reporters, the content is given a local spin. Furthermore, by adding extra local content, the site then appeals specifically to Panama.
Information & Communication Technology Panama Honduras Nicaragua
Phone and Cell Phone SubscribersSource: Regulating Entity of Panama – Ente Regulador de Panama
Telecommunications Information - Panama • InfrastructureAccording to the CIA World Fact Book, Panamá has well developed telecommunication facilities, including domestic and international facilities. According to the ARI (Inter-oceanic Area Authority-Autoridad de la Región Interoceánica), Panamá has access to one of the best submarine optical fiber connection infrastructures in Latin America. The ARI is an organization that administrates and maintains the areas that were reverted to the Panamanian government in the year 2000, and its goal is to promote the productive integration of these areas in order to benefit the country. • Infrastructure at the National LevelOn the national level, Panamá has four optical cable systems which are extended throughout the country. • Submarine Optical Fiber Connections Internationally, it has the following submarine optical fiber connections: PAC system: connects Japan, California, Mexico, Panama, St. Croix, United States and Europe.SAC system: connects Panama, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.Pan American system: connects Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.MAYA 1: connects Florida, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.ARCOS: connects Central America and the Caribbean. • Brief History of Privatization and De-Regulation1996: The Panamanian government began the process of privatization of the National Institute of Telecommunications (INTEL-Instituto Nacional de Telecomunicaciones).1997: The INTEL provided telecommunication services until 1997. The companies that were pre-qualified to buy the rights to 49% of the INTEL were Cable and Wireless, GTE, and South Western Bell. South Western Bell retired before negotiations got underway, leaving Cable and Wireless and GTE as contenders.1997: Cable and Wireless bought 49%. The government owns the remaining 51%. 2003: The telecommunications market was opened and other companies were allowed to enter the market. As a result, Cable and Wireless ceased to have the monopoly in the market, for national and international services. Telecarrier Inc. and Clarocom are currently providing competitive rates for national and international calls. Companies seeking to enter the market in the near future include Advanced Communications, Galaxy Communications Corp., System One World, Tricom, and Voip Comunicaciones de Panamá.
Honduras • Public phone services are found throughout the country. Either as coin public phones, phones that can be used for a per minute price in hotels or shops and Hondutel the national phone service provider has offices throughout the country where national and international calls can be made. Fax services can also be found in most towns, additionally so can Internet cafes. • Access to telecommunications services in Honduras remains well below the Latin American average. The installed telephone network capacity in November 2001 is 415,131 lines, with 322,500 lines in service in 2002. Line penetration for the entire country is 63%, with 4.8 telephone lines per one hundred inhabitants. • Privatization of the telecommunications sector remains incomplete and the sale and reform of the state telecommunications entity Hondutel has been postponed. • The National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), an independent regulatory agency was created for the telecommunications sector.
Internet in Honduras • Basic Statistics 2000 (per 1000 inhabitants – except as noted) • Daily Newspapers 55 • Radios 412 • TV Sets 96 • Telephone Mainlines 46 • Cell Phone Subscribers 24 • Personal Computers per 1000 inhabitants 10.8 • Internet Hosts Registered Under Geographic Domain 157 • Adult Literacy Rate (% ages 15 and over) 75.1
ICT - Honduras • International phone calls are astronomically expensive from Hondutel • A three-minute call • to the US or Canada currently costs US$11.50 • to Europe US$14.80 and • to Australia or New Zealand US$18.20 • The branches in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are open 24 hours; • elsewhere, offices are open daily from 7am to 9pm. • In all the main tourist destinations and most cities there's now a cybercafé or communication centre • Many cybercafés also offer Web phone calls, which cut international call rates to the price of surfing the Net • Police have periodically raided cybercafés and confiscated Web phone equipment • Another alternative option is to purchase an international calling card • There are also public phone booths scattered around the major towns • Fax services are available in most Hondutel branches • Note that there are no area phone codes • Internet use has mushroomed in Honduras in the last few years