The economic history of Panama, an introductory analysis

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1957

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Abstract

No one can deny that it is imperative to turn to the study of history - especially economic history - in order to learn the "whys" of present national conditions. That is the reason for this introduction to the economic history of Panama: for, to date, no one has assayed to explain Panama's historical development in economic terms. The Economic History of Panama, An Introductory Analysis, is divided into six Chapters whose titles are self-defining regarding their subject-matter content. Chapter I, the Introduction, indicates the limits of the analysis, states the basic assumptions underlying the analysis, and pinpoints some of the key factors in Panamanian economic development. Chapter II studies the physiographic conditions of the country as factors which permanently influence the process of economic development; and no one can deny the significance of physiographic factors in Panamanian history. Chapter III outlines the conditions of the human groups which go to make up the biologico-social environment of the country. The analysis of their characteristics is fundamentally necessary in order to explain present-day situations in the Panamanian economy. Chapter V deals with the period in Panama's history from 1513 to 1844, which has been designated as the First Economic Cycle, or an Economy of Simple Colonialism. This Chapter outlines with a certain degree of emphasis those happenings which produced "tremors" in Panama's economic structure and which are reflected in present-day economic conditions in the Republic. Chapter V refers to the period encompassed between 1844 and 1936; and its function is to study what is called the Second Economic Cycle, or An Economy of Passive Dependency. This section deals at length with events of importance which have created or set up in Panama's economy special characteristics still evdent in the Isthmian economic picture. Chapter VI, the last one of this Economic History of Panama, an Introductory Analysis, is where greatest emphasis has been placed and the most earnest effort has been made to analyze general conditions throughout the Republic. This period is felt to be of prime importance because during its course all the major efforts of the Republic of Panama to face up and find solutions to the many serious economic problems of the past few years have been made. This Chapter is entitled The Third Economic Cycle, or An Economy Moving Toward Economic Autonomy. It spans the period from 1936 to 1957. The intention of the author has been not only to show the importance of the economic factor in Panamanian development but also to provide an inventory of the nation's natural resources; human resources; political, social and educational institutions; and such other data, resources and results as may be necessary to discovery the major factors retarding or stimulating the process of economic development in Panama. This cannot help but point out the path toward a more efficient economic policy of integral development.

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