LOCATED IN CENTRAL America, the Republic of Panama has a land area of 29,157 sq. mi. (78,200 sq. km.), with a population of 3,343,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 111 people per sq. mi. (43 people per sq. km.). Only 7 percent of the land in the country is arable, the second lowest percentage in Central America, with 20 percent used for meadows and pasture, and 44 percent of the land forested. The level of carbon dioxide emissions in Panama was 1.3 metric tons per capita in 1990, rising to 2.3 metric tons per person in 2001, and then falling slightly to 1.9 metric tons per person by 2003. Most of this comes from liquid fuels, which make up 89 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions from the country, with cement manufacturing contributing 6 percent, and solid fuels (coal and charcoal) contributing another 3 percent.
The Caribbean coast of Panama has long had problems with hurricanes, but the rising water temperature in both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean have led to increased worry over flooding, and has caused some bleaching of coral reefs in the Archipelago de Bocas del Toro off the northwest coast of the country. Although some 30 percent of the country has been set aside for conservation, the deforestation of many areas used for pasture has led to soil erosion, which has also helped contribute to the destruction of the mangrove swamps. There have also been effects on the wildlife in the pristine cloud forest on the Quetzal Trail around the Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, and worries about flooding, which in turn could lead to a spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
The Panamanian government of Guillermo Endara took part in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and that of Ernesto Pérez Balladares signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on June 8, 1998. The Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was ratified on March 5, 1999, and came into force on February 16, 2005.
sEE ALsO: Diseases; Floods; Hurricanes and Typhoons.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. "Dengue Fever in Costa Rica and Panama," Epidemiological Bulletin (v.15/2, 1994); "Dengue in Central America: The Epidemics of 2000," Epidemiological Bulletin (v.21/4, 2000); "Panama—Climate and Atmosphere," www. earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).
JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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