Religion in Panama


Panama had an average population density of 54 residents per km 2 in 2019, but the country is unevenly populated with the greatest concentration to the area along the Panama Canal and the western parts.

According to Countryaah data, almost 70 percent of the population lives in cities, of which Panama City (441,000 residents, 2012), San Miguelito (355,300), Tocumen (107,600) were the largest.

When the Spaniards arrived in present-day Panama in the 16th century, the population was made up mainly of sweat-consuming and cassava-growing Indians, among them cuna, guaymí and emberá (chocò). The introduction of Spaniards gave rise to a mestizo population, which in 2010 accounted for 70 percent of the population. Otherwise, the ethnic composition is unusually varied: the descendants of the African slaves make up 14 percent, while the peoples drawn to Panama through the rail and canal construction consist of whites (10 percent) and Asians (4 percent). The Indians make up only 6 percent, divided into seven linguistically distinct groups. The largest group is the Naga bugle (guayme), which accounts for 64 percent (155,000 according to the 2010 census) of the country’s native Indian population, living in partially autonomous areas (comarca indígena) in the provinces of Chiriquí, Veraguas and Bocas del Toro. Parts of the cunaterritory are threatened by a power plant. The most famous of the Panamanian indigenous people is the cuna (50,000) who inhabit, among others, the archipelago San Blas/Guna Yala, but also on the mainland and in Panama City there are settlements. In addition, there are small groups of emberá (7,000) and wounaan (3,000) in a common district in the province of Darien.

People in Panama


Spanish is the official language and mother tongue of most people. About 6% speak some Chibchas language, such as the people of Guaymí on the Atlantic coast in the west and (among other things in the San Blasarchi law) kuna. There is also an English-based Creole language, mainly in the channel zone.

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According to thesciencetutor, the colonial church legitimized the destruction of the indigenous peoples’ religions. In 1815, Methodists came from the Caribbean, then Baptists, Presbyterians and Pentecostals. In Panama, 95% are Catholics. Under the influence of the Latin American Episcopal Conferences (CELAM), a Catholic renewal is underway, primarily as social work for the poor and marginalized. Interreligious dialogue is increasing between Christian and Kunu people’s religious traditions. Ecumenism with Protestants is on social issues. Evangelical groups are growing rapidly.

Panama Religion