Since Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1513) discovered the Pacific beyond the thin strip of land at the Isthmus of Panama, this region became a focal point for trade between the two oceans. But if the Camino Real was enough for the Spaniards for centuries, the road opened by them across the isthmus, which was followed in the nineteenth century by the construction of a railway between the two banks, the United States, which succeeded the Spaniards in controlling the Isthmian region, wanted realize at the beginning of the century. XX the opening of a canal interoceanico, which still connects the cities of Colón and Panamá through a large artificial lake. The mighty locks, the huge cranes and all the other hydraulic engineering artifacts make it a technological work that, at the beginning of the 21st century, is still of great interest. Under its control by the United States since its creation, the canal has been back under the sovereignty of Panama, a country located in Central America according to lawschoolsinusa, since 2000. At the socio-economic level, the country has a high income, but internal imbalances remain marked.
During the three colonial centuries there was no intellectual life in Panama. A seminary college was founded in 1590 and a university in the eighteenth century, but there were no printers or cultural centers or theaters. In the eighty years of union with Colombia there were few and mediocre romantic writers: the poets Tomás M. Feuillet (1834-1862), José M. Alemán (1830-1887), Amelia Denis de Icaza (1836-1910), Rodolfo Caicedo (1868-1905) and Federico Escobar (1861-1912), and the prose writer Pablo Arosemena (1836-1920). A real awakening instead brought independence, which gave the country the first cultural tools (high schools, national printing house, conservatory and painting academy, a national theater inaugurated in 1908, a museum, the first periodicals, etc.). Modernism soon had press organs in Panama,and Cosmos, directed by Guillermo Andreve (1879-1940), a talented prose writer, and Nuevos Ritos, directed by Ricardo Miró (1883-1940), and several writers, including Darío Herrera (1870-1914), a good poet, the narrator Salomón Ponce Aguilera (1868-1945) and above all the aforementioned Ricardo Miró, the first important poet in Panamanian history, author of Preludios (1908), Segundos preludios (1916), La leyenda del Pacífico (1919) and Caminos silenciosos (1929), as well as some narratives and plays. In his footsteps the poet Gaspar O. Hernández (1893-1918) and the narrator J. Darío Jaén (1893-1932) moved. The next generation, that of the twenties and thirties, resolutely adopted the ways of the avant-gardes, variously taken up by authors such as Demetrio Korsi (1899-1957), who after a long modernist season reached the threshold of the surrealistic experience with El grillo que cantó bajo las hélices (1942), and Rogelio Sinán (pseudonym of B. Domínguez, 1904-1944), innovator in poetry (Onda, 1929; Incendios, 1949) as well as in prose (from Plenilunio, 1947, to Los pájaros del sueño, 1958). This is the wake of Ricardo J. Bermúdez (1914-2000), who from Adám liberado (1944) and Laurel de cenizas (1951) to Con la llave en el suelo (1970) offers a far from naive elaboration of surrealistic themes (such as dreams, death, absence); Eduardo Ritter (b. 1916), poet with a refined melancholic vein and well-tempered formal technique (Silva de amor y otros poemas, 1957); José de José Martínez (1929-1991), a prominent playwright in the Spanish-American panorama. There are also two very personal female poetic voices: María Esther Osses (1916-1990), author of vivid mythological, naturalistic and sentimental frescoes (from Mensaje, 1945, to Poemas, 1976) and Stella Sierra (b.1919), whose valuable syllogs of a loving character make use of a sure dominion of the expressive medium (from Canciones de mar y de luna, 1939-40, 1944, to Poesía, 1962). Meditative tone and solicitous attention to the fundamental themes of existence inform the verses of J. Guillermo Ros Zanet (b. 1930), from Poemas fundamentales (1951) to Sin el color del cielo (1961); Tristán Solarte (b. 1924), in Voces y paisajes de vida y de muerte (1950) and in Evocaciones (1955); Pedro Rivera (b.1939), from Incendio de sollozos (1958) to Los pájaros de la niebla (1970). The patriotic, protest, revolutionary note instead characterizes the latest production by Carlos F. Chang (b. 1922) and a large part of that of José Franco (b. 1931), as well as the works of Victor Franceschi with a social background. Among the writers who emerged in the second half of the twentieth century are Ernesto Endara, who made a name for himself with the novel Las aventuras de Piti Mini (1985), Helio Vera with the collection of short stories Angola y otros cuentos (1984), the novelist and poet Pitti Dimas Lidio, Gloria Guardia (b.1940), awarded for her works throughout South America, and the poets Roberto Mackay, Manuel Orestes Nieto (b.1951), author of collections such as Reconstrucción de los Hechos, Panamá en la Memoria de los Mares, El Mar de los Sargazos, Erik Wolfschoon (b.1949), an architect fully committed to promoting national culture. In contemporary Panamanian literature some other names have been noted, such as the poets Viviane Nathan (b.1953), Rafael Ruiloba, Pedro Correa (1955-1996), Héctor Miguel Collado (b.1960), Giovanna Benedetti (b.1949; Entonces, Ahora y Luego, 1992; Entrada abierta a la mansión cerrada, 2005) and the novelists Ramón Fonseca Mora (b.1952), Isis Tejeira (b.1936; Sin fecha fija, 1982; Esta Linda la mar y otros cuentos, 1990), Rafael Pernett y Morales (b.1949; Loma Ardiente y Vestida de sol, 1974; El ombligo del indio, 2007), Rosa María Britton (b.1936), author of novels (El ataúd de Uso, 1982), short stories and plays, almost all of which have been awarded the Ricardo Miró prize in recent years.