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Panama, The Republic of

Capital: Panama
Population: 2,961,000 (est. 2003)
Languages: Spanish (official), English
Area: 75,990 sq. km (land area)
Currency: Balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD)
Fiscal year: Calender year
Independence status: 03/11/1903 (from Colombia)

PANAMA is situated on the isthmus between North and South America and covers 29,700 square miles, including the Colon Free Zone at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. Transportation facilities are excellent, with sea, air and land routes easily available. The economy is based primarily on a well-developed services sector, including operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism.

Legal System
Panama was the first country to introduce modern legislation permitting the creation of offshore companies for tax planning purposes. Panamanian Law is primarily based on the Spanish Civil Code, with company laws taken from the corporation laws of Delaware, USA.

There is no exchange control and corporations may trnasfer funds with complete freedom. Transactions may be carried in any currency. The official currency is Balboa, which, under a monetary agreement with the United States since 1904, is at par with USD and is freely convertible. US dollar is a legal tender freely circulates in Panama.

Unless violations of Panamanian Laws occur, a Panama corporation cannot be forced to divulge confidential information to Panamanian or foreign authorities. In addition, bearer share is permitted. As per Law Decree No. 9 of 26 February 1998, the identity of the bank account holders cannot be divulged unless the deposits are guarantees of assets and the accounts are under investigation or supervision by the Superintendent.

Panama offers complete tax exemption on foreign source income and on transactions carried outside the Republic of Panama. Exempted company is a company carrying on businesses outside Panama is having total exemption of taxes in Panama.

Panamanian corporation law offers a wide variety of incentives for resident or non-resident businessmen and investors due to the flexibility of the fiscal law. The formation and operation of corporations ("Sociedades Anonimas") are matters governed by the Law No. 32 of 1927. The existing legislation provides, among others, the following characteristics:

  • no restrictions upon the ownership of shares of a Panamanian corporation by foreign citizens or corporations
  • nationality restrictions nor residence requirements upon directors or officers
  • no requirements to file any reports regarding any offshore activities
  • not necessary to subscribe all or any percentage of the share capital
  • minimum one shareholder of legal age of any residents
  • not necessary to be present in Panama for organizing a corporation.

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