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Panama City, Spanish Panamá or Ciudad de Panamá, capital of the Republic of Panama. It is located in the east-central part of the country near the Pacific Ocean terminus of the Panama Canal, on the Gulf of Panama. Area city, 38.5 square miles (100 square km). Pop. (2010) city, 430,299; (2010 est.) urban agglomeration, 1,378,000.
The site of the future city was originally an Indian fishing village; the name Panamá means “many fish.” The old city (Panamá Viejo) was founded in 1519 by Gov. Pedro Arias Dávila and was made the seat of both secular and ecclesiastical authority. From the Andean countries bullion was shipped northward by sea to Panama City, and from there it was carried across the isthmus by pack animals to Nombre de Dios or Portobelo on the Caribbean coast for shipment to Spain. The city prospered until the depredations of pirates and privateers curtailed trade. In 1595 Sir Francis Drake tried unsuccessfully to send a force across the isthmus to sack old Panama; in 1671, however, Henry (afterward Sir Henry) Morgan completely destroyed it.
Modern buildings in the city include the Palace of Justice, La Presidencia, the National Palace, and the hotel El Panamá. Panama City is the seat of the national university (founded 1935), the University of Santa María la Antigua (1965), and schools of dance, music, art, and theatre associated with the National Institute of Culture. There are a number of academies, libraries, museums, and research institutes. The Gorgas Memorial Laboratory of Tropical and Preventive Medicine was established there in 1928. In addition, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (founded 1923) is based in Ancón.
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