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Land Surface: 78,200 km2
Population Density: 37.6 persons/km2
Urban Population: 70.8%
Population Growth Rate: 2.1%
Currency: Panamanian dollar
Although disasters are infrequent, Panama is considered a country of seismic risk to flooding - especially in the capital, the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Darién and Columbus.
Prolonged periods of heavy rain have caused landslides and floods with serious economic losses, deaths and injuries. Panama's vulnerability to landslides is due to topographical, geological and hydrological causes, as well as the indiscriminate use of soil, rainfall, seismic activity and construction activities related to home-building and deforestation.
The country is part of the microplate Panama, a seismically active area. There are records of earthquakes in the province of Los Santos (1913), Bocas del Toro (1916), Veraguas (1941), Panama (1971), Darien (1974), and the most serious, in Bocas del Toro in 1991, which accounted for 23 dead, 337 injured and 720 houses destroyed.
Smaller earthquakes have caused severe damage to homes and left thousands injured. Recently, there have been earthquakes in Chiriqui (2001), Columbus (2003) and waterspouts in the Bay of Panama (2002). In 2005, floods in the Tocumen area resulted in more than 20 deaths and extensive damage; floods of the Rio Sixaola caused similar destruction. In 1991, an earthquake in Bocas del Toro led to several deaths and many injuries. Recently there have been major earthquakes in the upper area of the Province of Chiriqui.
Since February 11, 2005, Panama has belonged to the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), an agency established to implement all policies and action plans aimed at preventing material and psychosocial risks of natural disasters and man.
SINAPROC collects and maintains an information system, promotes national risk management, develops and implements strategies and plans to reduce vulnerabilities and risk management, prepares plans and actions aimed at strengthening and improving responsiveness and humanitarian assistance, promotes and proposes to the Executive the design of plans, as well as the adoption of regulations on safety and civil protection across the country, among other functions.
SINAPROC is adjoined to the Center and Emergency Operations (COE), where all arrangements are made between the institutions that comprise political and technical policy once an alert is declared to maintain control. This agency ensures immediate response to emergencies and disasters that occur in the country.
In addition, the Health System Institutional Emergency and Disaster (SISED) is advised by the Health Ministry authorities in order to implement all components of risk management including risk analysis, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery management, ensuring the highest capacity of health facilities in order to respond appropriately in health care in emergency situations and disasters.
More details on the SISED in www.minsa.gob.pa/minsa2006/sised/sised.pdf
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