The presence of this judicial-legislative-executive government body led to the building of a sense of independent nationhood. Unlike the former Canal Zone, the government has always repudiated racism and segregation.Because of its nationalistic policies, the government also forbade the use of English in public schools, thus discriminating against the black population.At that time, it was referred to as the Castilla de Oro, a source of gold and potential converts.
The urban elite is primarily Creole, mostly of Spanish descent.
There are also populations of Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Jewish origins.
People of African descent account for 15 percent of the population.
These "Afro-colonials" descend from slaves who were imported in colonial times. The "Afro-Antillean" group descends from Caribbean residents who came to work on the construction of the Panama canal.
They speak English, French, or an English patois at home and are mostly Protestant. The official language is Spanish, but English is used widely in business, especially banking and tourism, and by some people of African descent. Some coins bear the image of Urraca, an Indian chief who resisted the Spanish conquests, but most coins depict Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean. Panama became an autonomous nation because of its function as the custodian of the transisthmus shipping route—the "path between the seas." It gained independence in 1903 as part of an American-sponsored revolt against Colombia that led to the signing of a treaty granting the United States the right to build the Panama Canal.
The Spanish discovered and conquered Panama between 15.The government is transferring that housing to private owners but is committed by treaty to conserve the natural rainforest areas of the former Zone to prevent the canal from silting.A few neighborhoods of upper-class walled villas have appeared.After 1538, it was used as a land route to Spain's South American colonies and a transshipment point for Andean gold.From 1568 to 1671 there was series of pirate raids, and in 1671 Panama City was sacked by buccaneers under the command of Sir Henry Morgan.Outside the city walls was a neighborhood of free blacks living in thatched structures.