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the people constituting the majority of Panama’s population. Panamanians total more than 1.5 million persons (1974, estimate). Their language is Spanish with some lexical borrowings from Indian languages.
About 70 percent of the Panamanians are mestizos and mu-lattoes—descendants of Spanish colonists of the 16th to 18th centuries, as well as later European immigrants (notably Italians), who mixed with native Indians and with Negroes brought from Africa. About 10–12 percent are white and about 12–15 percent Negroes. Most of the rest are Indians—Cuna, Chocó, and Guaymí. Among the Negroes there are many English-speaking Antillanos, the descendants of immigrants who came from the West Indies to work on the Panama Canal and on American plantations. The majority of Panamanians are Catholics, and there are also Protestants, chiefly the Antillanos.
The chief occupation is farming. Bananas, cacao, and several other crops are cultivated on plantations owned by US monopolies, and rice and corn are raised on small peasant farms. Panamanians also work in the Panama Canal Zone, mostly at low-paying jobs. (For the history, economy, and culture of the Panamanians, see and .)
REFERENCESNarody Ameriki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
Biesanz, J. B., and M. H. Biesanz. The People of Panama. New York, 1955.