In the west are rugged mountains (Volcán Barú is 11,401 ft/3,475 m high) of volcanic origin, which yield in the middle of the country to low hills; there is a low mountain range in the east. Lowlands line both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and there are numerous offshore islands. The climate is generally tropical with abundant rainfall. Colón, a major port, is the second largest city, and David is the third largest city. More than half the population is urban. The population is primarily mestizo, although the building of the canal brought large numbers of people from the West Indies and other parts of the world, many of whom stayed and intermarried with the indigenous population. Spanish is the official language, and many Panamanians also speak English. About 85% of the population is Roman Catholic; there is a Protestant minority.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.