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Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela - named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. Certain portions of the Zone and increasing responsibility over the Canal were turned over in the subsequent decades. With US help,... See More



 Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica

Geographic Coordinates:

 9 00 N, 80 00 W


 Total: 75,420 sq km
Land: 74,340 sq km
Water: 1,080 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 555 km
Border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km


 2,490 km (Rank: 48)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm or edge of continental margin


 Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season (May to January), short dry season (January to May)


 Interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Volcan Baru 3,475 m

Natural Resources:

 Copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Land Use:

 Arable land: 7.26%
Permanent crops: 1.95%
Other: 90.79% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 430 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 148 cu km (2000)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 0.82 cu km/yr (67%/5%/28%)
Per capita: 254 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural Hazards:

 Occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area

Environment - Current Issues:

 Water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

Signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography - Note:

 Strategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming land bridge connecting North and South America; controls Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean

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 Noun: Panamanian(s)
Adjective: Panamanian

Ethnic Groups:

 Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 70%, Amerindian and mixed (West Indian) 14%, white 10%, Amerindian 6%


 Spanish (official), English 14%

Note: many Panamanians are bilingual


 Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%


 3,460,462 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 28.6% (male 504,726/female 484,291)
15-64 years: 64.2% (male 1,123,777/female 1,098,661)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 115,425/female 133,582) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 27.5 years
Male: 27.1 years
Female: 27.9 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.435% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 19.43 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 4.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -0.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 75% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 PANAMA CITY (capital) 1.346 million (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.045 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 71 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 11.64 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 12.41 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 10.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 77.79 years
Male: 75.02 years
Female: 80.68 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.45 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 8.3% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 1.5 physicians/1,000 population (2000)

Hospital Bed Density:

 2.2 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 97% of population
Rural: 83% of population
Total: 93% of population
Urban: 3% of population
Rural: 17% of population
Total: 7% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 75% of population
Rural: 51% of population
Total: 69% of population
Urban: 25% of population
Rural: 49% of population
Total: 31% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.9% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 20,000 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 1,500 (2009 est.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: intermediate
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
Vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 3.9% (2008)

Education Expenditures:

 3.8% of GDP (2008)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 91.9%
Male: 92.5%
Female: 91.2% (2000 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 13 years
Male: 13 years
Female: 14 years (2008)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 14.9%
Male: 11.7%
Female: 21.1% (2008)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Republic of Panama
Conventional short form: Panama
Local long form: Republica de Panama
Local short form: Panama

Government Type:

 Constitutional democracy


 Name: Panama City
Geographic coordinates: 8 58 N, 79 32 W
Time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 9 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 3 indigenous territories* (comarcas); Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Cocle, Colon, Darien, Embera-Wounaan*, Herrera, Kuna Yala*, Los Santos, Ngobe-Bugle*, Panama, Veraguas


 3 November 1903 (from Colombia; became independent from Spain on 28 November 1821)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 3 November (1903)


 11 October 1972; revised several times

Legal System:

 Civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court of Justice

International Law Organization Participation:

 Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government: President Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal (since 1 July 2009); Vice President Juan Carlos VARELA (since 1 July 2009)

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president

Elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms (not eligible for immediate reelection; president and vice president must sit out two additional terms (10 years) before becoming eligible for reelection); election last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)

Election results: Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo MARTINELLI Berrocal 60%, Balbina HERRERA 38%, Guillermo ENDARA Galimany 2%

Note: government coalition - CD (Democratic Change), Panamenista, MOLIRENA (Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement), and UP (Patriotic Union Party)

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (71 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Elections: last held on 3 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014)

Election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 26, Panamenista 22, CD 14, UP 4, Independent 2, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1; note - changes in political affiliation now reflect the following seat distribution: as of 1 March 2011 - seats by party - PRD 23, Panamenista 20, CD 23, UP 2, MOLIRENA 2, PP 1

Note: legislators from outlying rural districts chosen on a plurality basis while districts located in more populous towns and cities elect multiple legislators by means of a proportion-based formula

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (nine judges appointed for staggered 10-year terms); five superior courts; three courts of appeal

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Democratic Change or CD [Ricardo MARTINELLI]; Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD [Francisco SANCHEZ Cardenas]; Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement or MOLIRENA [Sergio GONZALEZ-Ruiz]; Panamenista Party [Juan Carlos VARELA Rodriguez] (formerly the Arnulfista Party); Patriotic Union Party or UP (combination of the Liberal National Party or PLN and the Solidarity Party or PS)[Anibal GALINDO]; Popular Party or PP [Milton HENRIQUEZ] (formerly Christian Democratic Party or PDC)

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Chamber of Commerce; National Civic Crusade; National Council of Organized Workers or CONATO; National Council of Private Enterprise or CONEP; National Union of Construction and Similar Workers (SUNTRACS); Panamanian Association of Business Executives or APEDE; Panamanian Industrialists Society or SIP; Workers Confederation of the Republic of Panama or CTRP

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Mario Ernesto JARAMILLO Castillo
Chancery: 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 483-1407
FAX: [1] (202) 483-8416
Consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Phyllis M. POWERS
Embassy: Edificio 783, Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas Panama, Apartado Postal 0816-02561, Zona 5, Panama City
Mailing address: American Embassy Panama, Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
Telephone: [507] 207-7000
FAX: [507] 317-5568

Flag Description:

 Divided into four, equal rectangles; the top quadrants are white (hoist side) with a blue five-pointed star in the center and plain red; the bottom quadrants are plain blue (hoist side) and white with a red five-pointed star in the center; the blue and red colors are those of the main political parties (Conservatives and Liberals respectively) and the white denotes peace between them; the blue star stands for the civic virtues of purity and honesty, the red star signifies authority and law

National Symbols:

 Harpy eagle

National Anthem:

 Name: "Himno Istemno" (Isthmus Hymn)
Lyrics/music: Jeronimo DE LA OSSA/Santos A. JORGE

Note: adopted 1925

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Economy - Overview:

 Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 25% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The United States and China are the top users of the Canal. Panama also plans to construct a metro system in Panama City, valued at $1.2 billion and scheduled to be completed by 2014. Panama's booming transportation and logistics services sectors, along with aggressive infrastructure development projects, will likely lead the economy to continued growth in 2011. Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About 30% of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2010 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points, while unemployment dropped from 12% to 6% of the labor force. Panama and the United States signed a Trade Promotion Agreement in June 2007, which, when implemented, will help promote the country's economic growth. Seeking removal from the Organization of Economic Development's gray-list of tax havens, Panama has also recently signed various double taxation treaties with other nations.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $44.36 billion (2010 est.)
$41.26 billion (2009 est.)
$39.99 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $26.78 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 7.5% (2010 est.)
3.2% (2009 est.)
10.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $13,000 (2010 est.)
$12,300 (2009 est.)
$12,100 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 4.6%
Industry: 16.7%
Services: 78.7% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 1.485 million

Note: shortage of skilled labor, but an oversupply of unskilled labor (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 17.6%
Industry: 8.8%
Services: 73.6% (2009 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 4.2% (2010 est.)
6.4% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 25.6% (2010 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 1.3%
Highest 10%: 40.6% (2009)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 51 (2010 est.)
56.1 (2003)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 27.1% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $6.874 billion
Expenditures: $7.386 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 25.7% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -1.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 43.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
45.6% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 3.5% (2010 est.)
2.4% (2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 7.74% (31 December 2010 est.)
8.25% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $3.764 billion (31 December 2008)
$3.054 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $15.84 billion (31 December 2008)
$14.05 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $5.23 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$4.404 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $24.19 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$21.78 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $23.5 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$20.17 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $10.92 billion (31 December 2010)
$8.048 billion (31 December 2009)
$6.568 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Bananas, rice, corn, coffee, sugarcane, vegetables; livestock; shrimp


 Construction, brewing, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 4.5% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 6.546 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 37%
Hydro: 61.3%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 1.7% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 5.805 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 95 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 73 million kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - Production:

 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 97,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 77,910 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$2.523 billion (2010 est.)
-$43.5 million (2009 est.)


 $11.33 billion (2010 est.)
$11.13 billion (2009 est.)

Note: includes the Colon Free Zone

Exports - Commodities:

 Bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing

Exports - Partners:

 Venezuela 20.6%, South Korea 18.2%, Ecuador 6.3%, India 6.2%, Japan 5.6%, Greece 5.3%, US 5.3% (2010)


 $15.95 billion (2010 est.)
$13.26 billion (2009 est.)

Note: includes the Colon Free Zone

Imports - Commodities:

 Capital goods, foodstuffs, consumer goods, chemicals

Imports - Partners:

 Japan 25.3%, China 19.6%, Singapore 12.3%, US 10%, South Korea 9.3%, Ecuador 4.1% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $2.715 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$3.028 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $13.22 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$12.42 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Panama Balboa to Any Currency

Balboas (PAB) per US dollar -
1 (2010)
1 (2009)
1 (2008)
1 (2007)
1 (2006)

Note: the balboa exists alongside the dollar and may be used interchangably

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 553,100 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 6.496 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: domestic and international facilities well developed

Domestic: mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased rapidly

International: country code - 507; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), the MAYA-1, and PAN-AM submarine cable systems that together provide links to the US and parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to the Central American Microwave System (2008)

Broadcast Media:

 Multiple privately-owned television networks and a government-owned educational TV station; multi-channel cable and satellite TV subscription services are available; more than 100 commercial radio stations (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 101, FM 134, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 38 (including repeaters) (1998)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 9,585 (2010)

Internet Users:

 959,800 (2009)

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 118 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 54
Over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 17
Under 914 m: 30 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 64
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
Under 914 m: 52 (2010)


 3 (2010)


 Oil 128 km


 Total: 76 km
Standard gauge: 76 km 1.435-m gauge (2010)


 Total: 11,978 km
Paved: 4,300 km
Unpaved: 7,678 km (2002)


 800 km (includes the 82-km Panama Canal that is being widened) (2010)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 6,379
By type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 2,383, cargo 1,129, carrier 18, chemical tanker 626, combination ore/oil 3, container 751, liquefied gas 192, passenger 42, passenger/cargo 61, petroleum tanker 576, refrigerated cargo 212, roll on/roll off 100, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 282
Foreign-owned: 5,244 (Albania 3, Argentina 7, Australia 5, Azerbaijan 1, Bahamas 7, Bangladesh 3, Belgium 2, Bermuda 15, Brazil 3, Bulgaria 6, Burma 3, Canada 5, Chile 17, China 574, Colombia 2, Croatia 2, Cuba 4, Cyprus 8, Denmark 46, Ecuador 6, Egypt 11, Finland 2, France 13, Gabon 1, Germany 27, Gibraltar 1, Greece 402, Hong Kong 125, India 17, Indonesia 14, Iran 5, Ireland 1, Isle of Man 11, Israel 1, Italy 23, Japan 2347, Jordan 13, Kuwait 12, Latvia 4, Lebanon 2, Lithuania 4, Luxembourg 1, Malaysia 12, Maldives 3, Malta 2, Mexico 6, Monaco 14, Morocco 1, Netherlands 8, Nigeria 7, Norway 89, Oman 8, Pakistan 5, Peru 12, Philippines 6, Poland 3, Portugal 9, Qatar 1, Romania 2, Russia 39, Saudi Arabia 8, Singapore 79, South Korea 366, Spain 40, Sweden 1, Switzerland 22, Syria 42, Taiwan 337, Tanzania 2, Thailand 6, Tunisia 1, Turkey 79, UAE 83, UK 33, Ukraine 11, US 102, Venezuela 8, Vietnam 37, Yemen 4)

Note: this country allows large numbers of ships owned by foreign entities to be registered in its national shipping registry and to fly its flag; these ships operate under the laws of the flag state
Registered in other countries: 1 (Honduras 1) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Balboa, Colon, Cristobal

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Military Branches:

 No regular military forces; Panamanian public forces include: Panamanian National Police (PNP), National Air-Naval Service (SENAN), National Border Service (SENAFRONT) (2010)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 890,006 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 731,254
Females age 16-49: 728,329 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 32,142
Female: 30,879 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1% of GDP (2006)

Military - Note:

 On 10 February 1990, the government of then President ENDARA abolished Panama's military and reformed the security apparatus by creating the Panamanian Public Forces; in October 1994, Panama's Legislative Assembly approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting the creation of a standing military force but allowing the temporary establishment of special police units to counter acts of "external aggression"

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Disputes - International:

 Organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia operate within the remote border region with Panama

Illicit Drugs:

 Major cocaine transshipment point and primary money-laundering center for narcotics revenue; money-laundering activity is especially heavy in the Colon Free Zone; offshore financial center; negligible signs of coca cultivation; monitoring of financial transactions is improving; official corruption remains a major problem

Trafficking in Persons:

 Current situation: Panama is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; although some Panamanian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in other countries in Latin America and in Europe, most Panamanian trafficking victims are exploited within the country; commercial sexual exploitation of children was greater in rural areas; Panamanian children, mostly young girls, are subjected to domestic servitude; most foreign trafficking victims are adult women from Colombia, neighboring Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic; some victims migrate voluntarily to Panama to work but are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic servitude

Tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - authorities established a commission which drafted comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation to bring anti-trafficking laws in line with the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol; the government identified at least 43 trafficking victims and prosecuted five sex trafficking offenders, and in partnership with civil society and foreign governments, provided training to Panamanian officials; however, Panama continued to lack prohibitions against forced labor in its penal code, and authorities did not convict any trafficking offenders; specialized victim services, particularly for adult victims, remained limited, and authorities did not report using proactive procedures to identify trafficking victims among detained migrants (2011)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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