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These people have nearly disappeared, as they had no immunity from European infectious diseases.

The Isthmus of Panama was formed about three million years ago when the land bridge between North and South America finally became complete, and plants and animals gradually crossed it in both directions.

Before Europeans arrived Panama was widely settled by Chibchan, Chocoan, and Cueva peoples.

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Blending all of the above together, Panamanians believe in general that the word Panama means "abundance of fish, trees and butterflies".

This is the official definition given in social studies textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education in Panama.

With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the Panama Canal to be built by the U. Revenue from canal tolls continues to represent a significant portion of Panama's GDP, although commerce, banking, and tourism are major and growing sectors.

In 2015 Panama ranked 60th in the world in terms of the Human Development Index.

Later central Panama was home to some of the first pottery-making in the Americas, for example the cultures at Monagrillo, which date back to 2500–1700 BC.

These evolved into significant populations best known through their spectacular burials (dating to c.

The size of the indigenous population of the isthmus at the time of European colonization is uncertain.

Estimates range as high as two million people, but more recent studies place that number closer to 200,000.

The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half of the country's 4 million people.

Panama was inhabited by several indigenous tribes prior to settlement by the Spanish in the 16th century.

In 1519 Pedrarias Dávila decided to establish the Empire's Pacific city at the site.

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