On the Panamanian headland, the chibcha civilization developed (muiscas; See: Colombia). It was one of the great cultures in America. The society was sharply stratified, it had an evolved architecture and developed advanced goldsmiths and scientific recognition in a variety of disciplines.
In 1508, the Spanish crown decided to initiate the conquest of the so-called “fixed country” from Central America to Venezuela. The Spanish conquistador, Diego de Nicuesa, was assigned to colonize the so-called Castilla del Oro – the present Panama and Costa Rica. But the conquest failed. In 1513 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was sent to find the supposed South Sea. On September 25, he reached the ocean, which was christened the Pacific.
According to Countryaah, the short distance between the Atlantic and the Pacific at this location was to determine the historical fate of the landlock due to its great geopolitical significance. Panama became a trading center of importance for the Spanish trade monopoly. The ships from Spain arrived at the port city of Portobelo on the Atlantic coast. The cargo was then carried over the moorland of mules to Panama City. From there, the goods were distributed along the entire Pacific coast of Spanish America – from San Francisco in the north to Santiago in the south. The concentration of wealth also attracted English pirates and freighters. Francis Drake destroyed Portobelo in 1596 and Henry Morgan burned Panama in 1671.
Panama was subject to the Viceroy of Peru until the reforms of the Bourbon in 1717 made it part of Nueva Granada. It remained part of Greater Colombia for independence from Spain in 1821.
Because of its position as a hub of trade and communication routes linking all of Spanish America, Panama was chosen by Simón Bolívar as the host of the Continental Conference, which, after independence, was to consolidate the continent’s unity. The conference was held in 1826, but without the scope the liberator had hoped. The economic decline of the late 18th century and the reshuffle of trade routes explain why Panama was unable to expand its geopolitical significance after the break with Spain and why it did not form an independent state after seceding from Great Colombia in 1830th
When the Civil War broke out in Nueva Granada in 1831, Panama broke out in ca. 1 year out with the purpose of building the Confederation Colombia and otherwise maintaining its autonomy, but not until 1855 was the State of Panama established in federation with Nueva Granada (present Colombia).
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