Welcome to Panama
Capital: Panama City
Panama (/ˈpænəmɑː/ PAN-ə-mah; Spanish: Panamá [panaˈma]), officially called the Republic of Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá), is a country in Central America. It is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia (in South America) to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half of the country's 4 million people.
Panama was inhabited by several indigenous tribes prior to settlement by the Spanish in the 16th century. Panama broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined, eventually becoming the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903. In 1977 an agreement was signed for the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama by the end of the 20th century, which culminated on December 31, 1999.
Tourism in Panama is rapidly growing. It has maintained its growth over the past five years due to government tax and price discounts to foreign guests and retirees. These economic incentives have caused Panama to be regarded as a relatively good place to retire. Real estate developers in Panama have increased the number of tourism destinations in the past five years because of interest in these visitor incentives.
The number of tourists from Europe grew by 23.1% during the first nine months of 2008. According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), from January to September, 71,154 tourists from Europe entered Panama, 13,373 more than in same period the previous year. Most of the European tourists were Spaniards (14,820), followed by Italians (13,216), French (10,174) and British (8,833). There were 6997 from Germany, the most populous country in the European Union. Europe has become one of the key markets to promote Panama as a tourist destination.
In 2012, 4.345.5 million[clarification needed] entered into the Panamanian economy as a result of tourism. This accounted for 9.5% of the gross domestic product of the country, surpassing other productive sectors. The number of tourists who arrived that year was 2.2 million.
Panama enacted Law No. 80 in 2012 to promote foreign investment in tourism. Law 80 replaced an older Law 8 of 1994. Law 80 provides 100% exemption from income tax and real estate taxes for 15 years, duty-free imports for construction materials and equipment for five years, and a capital gains tax exemption for five years.