- from Panama Canal
Panama has had a stormy history. In the 1500s, the land was conquered by Spain. The Indigenous (Native) Panamanians were nearly destroyed by disease, slavery, and war.
Later, Panama became part Colombia, a country in South America. But Colombia refused to allow the United States to build a canal across Panama. A revolution followed. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered U.S. sailors to help the revolutionaries. The 1903 revolution freed Panama from Colombia. The new country permitted the United States to build the canal.
However, in the eyes of many Panamanians, the treaty to build the canal gave an unfair advantage to the United States. Why? Because the U.S. got total control over a 10-mile-wide and 50-mile-long stretch of land.
Other Panamanians approved of the U.S. presence. They believed that the canal improved their economy. They also thought the U.S. protection would help them remain independent.
Whatever one’s opinion, the issue was closed on December 31, 1999. That's when the United States turned the canal over to the Republic of Panama.