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Panama Natural Resources




Panama is traversed lengthwise by two mountain systems. The loftier Serrania de Tabasará crosses into Panama from the west. The range averages 5,000 ft. in elevation, with its tallest peak, Barú, an extinct volcano, reaching 11,401 ft. The Cordillera de San Blas and the Sierra del Darién, which form the lower range, average about 3,000 ft. and are almost entirely situated within the country. The mountain ranges enclose fertile, well-drained valleys and plains.

The region between the two mountain systems consists of hills, ranging from about 300 to 1,500 ft. in height, and valleys. It is thickly matted with forest and tangled undergrowth and is studded with ridges, crests, and occasional plains and high plateaus. The two mountain ranges are watersheds within which rise some 325 rivers and streams emptying into the Pacific and 150 descending to the Caribbean. The largest and most important river, the Tuira, flows into the Golfo de San Miguel on the Pacific coast. Another large river, the Chagres, rises in central Panama and is dammed at Gatun into an artificial lake that forms an important section of the Panama Canal and provides the majority of potable water for Panama City.

Both of the Panamanian coasts are indented by lagoons, bays, and gulfs. The Gulf of Panama lies on the Pacific side and contains the Archipiélago de las Perlas (Pearl Islands), consisting of more than 100 islands of varying size with a total area of some 450 sq. miles.

Panama has a tropical climate with average annual temperatures ranging from 83 degrees to 95 degrees in coastal areas. In the interior, at the higher altitudes, the average temperature is 66 degrees. The rainy season extends from April to December. On the Caribbean coast the average annual rainfall is about 117 inches; on the Pacific side it is about 65 inches.

Panama has been slow to develop its natural resources such as mineral deposits of manganese, copper, iron, and asbestos. About 8% of Panama’s land is under cultivation. The main crops are bananas, plantains, sugarcane, rice, maize, and coffee. Forest products of Panama include a variety of woods, notably mahogany.