Last Updated 10 November 2016

Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, revenue from canal tolls continues to represent a significant portion of Panama’s GDP.

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Constitution and government

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. However, Catholicism has certain state-sanctioned advantages over other religions. Freedom of assembly and association are protected by law and respected in practice.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, provided that “Christian morality and public order” are respected. The constitution recognizes Catholicism as “the religion of the majority” of citizens but does not designate it as the official state religion.

Education and children’s rights

The constitution required teaching Catholicism in public schools; however, parents have the right to exempt their children from religious instruction.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution and generally respected in practice. While media freedom is guaranteed by law, the government has been accused of creating a hostile environment for independent media.

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