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The Republic of Panama was created in 1903 when it declared its independence from Colombia. The United States helped Panama in it's bid for independence by sending troops to protect US economic interests in the Canal, then under construction.

In 1904 Panama passed a Constitution as an independent state, modeled on the Colombian Constitution. The Constitution was rewritten in 1941, and again in 1972, following a military coup, and remains in its current form after several reforms in the intervening years.

Panama's government is structured as a representative democracy, with the president serving as both head of state and head of government. The current President of the Republic Ricardo Martinelli, of the Democratic Change (CD) party, which was founded in May 1998. On May 3, 2009, Martinelli won the national election by a landslide, with over 60% of the votes compared to Herrera, who received about 36%. Former president Guillermo Endara finished a distant third.[7] This was the second-largest majority in Panamanian history, and the largest since 1989. Martinelli's victory was an exception to a trend of victories for left-leaning Latin American candidates. He was sworn in on July 1, 2009.

The legislative branch consists of a National Assembly, whose members are also elected by popular vote to five-year terms. The judicial branch is separate from the executive and legislative branches of government, and consists of a Supreme Court of Justice, Tribunals and appointed judges.

President: Ricardo Martinelli
Vice-President: Juan Carlos Varela

Government Ministries:

The country is divided into nine provinces, three indigenous territories* and two territories**:

    • Bocas del Toro
    • Chiriqui
    • Cocle
    • Colon
    • Darien
    • Herrera
    • Los Santos
    • Panama
    • Veraguas
    • Guna Yala*
    • Emberá*
    • Ngöbe-Buglé*
    • Kuna de Madugandí**
    • Kuna de Wargandí**

Other Useful Links:
Lexadin: A database of Panamanian legislation (Spanish and English)
Asamblea Nacional: Official website of the National Assembly (Spanish)
República de Panamá: Official website of the Republic of Panama (Spanish)
Organo Judicial: Official website of the Judiciary Power (Spanish)