0.06% of the U.S. population (2018)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly Roman Catholic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|fellow Hispanic and Latino Americans|
The Panamanian population at the 2010 Census was 165,456. Panamanians are the sixth-smallest Hispanic group in the United States and the second smallest Central American population.
Since 1820, more than one million immigrants from Central and South America migrated to the United States. Until 1960, the U.S. Census Bureau did not produce statistics that separated the Panamanian immigrants, the South Americans and Central Americans. The Panamanian Americans increased slowly in the United States. Since the 1830s, only 44 arrivals were recorded in this country, by the early twentieth century more than 1,000 came annually.
After World War II the flow of immigrants from Panama remained small even though there were no immigration restrictions on the people from the Western Hemisphere. However, the Panamanian immigration increased dramatically after the 1965 Immigration Act, which imposed a ceiling of 120,000 admissions from the hemisphere. Its increase immigration was such that by 1970, Panamanians were able to be one of the largest of the Central American groups in the United States. Most Panamanians that came were nonwhites and most were women.
The number of immigrant males per 100 females was very low in the 1960s, falling to 51 for Panama. Many of the female immigrants worked of in service, domestic, or low-paid, white-collar workers who immigrated to earn money to, in return, send home. Since 1962 the percentage of employed newcomers who are domestic servants has remained high, ranging from 15 to 28 percent. The entry of homemakers and children after 1968 was eased by the immigration preference system favoring family reunions. They had already approximated 86,000 people of Panamanian ancestry living in the United States.
Although many of the first Panamanian immigrants managed to get or to hold jobs, the second generation of Panamanian Americans placed more emphasis on vocational training and college education. Most newcomers are domestic, very few are agricultural or industrial laborers. In the last two decades many Panamanians have embraced professional careers, and become white collar workers. Subsequent generations have progressed even further in their educational and professional pursuits.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Panamanians congregated mainly in urban areas, especially in very large metropolitan cities. Most Panamanian immigrants are set in New England, or on the Gulf Coast, or Pacific Coast, or in middle Atlantic or Great Lakes areas. While, New York City contains the largest urban population of Panamanians. Also there an important number of Panamanians settled in Florida and California.
In contrast to other Hispanic nationalities, Panamanians are heavily concentrated in Army base cities. These cities include Fayetteville, NC - Fort Bragg, Killeen, TX - Fort Hood, Columbus, GA - Fort Stewart, Colorado Springs, CO - Fort Carson, Clarksville, TN - Fort Campbell, El Paso, TX - Fort Bliss, and in the vicinity of Fort Dix in New Jersey. Cities home to Navy and Air Force bases also lay claim to a concentration of Panamanians. These include San Antonio, Hampton Roads, Jacksonville, San Diego, and Tampa.
Race and ethnicity
More than other Hispanic groups, a significant percentage of Panamanian Americans are black, with the remaining being of mixed race. Although most Panamanian Americans speak Spanish, the group tends to identify itself more with English-speaking West Indian groups rather than with other Hispanic groups.
This tendency is most prevalent among black Panamanian Americans, which may be due to large Trinidadian, Jamaican and Barbadian immigration, which occurred during the early 1900s, many of them retained their West Indian culture. Most Panamanians, along with Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Colombians, and Venezuelans have higher percentages of African descent than other Hispanic groups.
The 10 states with the largest population of Panamanians (Source: 2010 Census):
- Florida - 28,741
- New York - 28,200
- California - 17,768
- Texas - 13,994
- Georgia - 8,678
- Virginia - 7,180
- North Carolina - 5,708
- New Jersey - 5,431
- Maryland - 5,341
- Pennsylvania - 3,234
The largest population of Panamanians are situated in the following areas (Source: Census 2010):
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA - 29,619
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA - 13,529
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA - 7,322
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA - 6,353
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA - 5,599
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA - 4,234
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA - 3,772
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA - 3,350
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA - 3,162
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA - 2,841
- San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA - 2,663
- Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA - 2,658
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA - 2,556
- San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA MSA - 2,384
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA - 2,300
- San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA MSA - 2,144
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA - 2,002
- Baltimore-Towson, MD MSA - 1,877
- Fayetteville, NC MSA - 1,788
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA - 1,749
US communities with largest population of people of Panamanians ancestry
The top 25 US communities with the highest populations of Panamanian (Source: Census 2010)
- New York City - 22,353
- Los Angeles - 2,131
- San Antonio, TX - 1,602
- Jacksonville, FL - 1,165
- Fayetteville, NC - 1,154
- Miami, FL - 1,113
- Houston, TX - 1,076
- San Diego, CA - 1,018
- Killeen, TX - 998
- Chicago, IL - 883
- Washington, DC - 742
- Boston, MA # Hillcrest Heights, FL - 1.57%
- Pemberton Heights, NJ - 1.40%
- Indian Creek, FL - 4.65%
- Lisbon, FL - 1.92%
Panamanians are more than 1% of the entire population in only four communities in the US, none of which has a significant population. As a result, Panamanians are one of the least visible Hispanic nationalities in the US.
US communities with high percentages of people of Panamanian ancestry
US communities with the highest percentages of Panamanians as a percent of total population (Source: Census 2010)
- Virginia Beach, VA - 702
- Miramar, FL - 700
- Columbus, GA - 696
- Pembroke Pines, FL - 676
- Tampa, FL - 656
- Colorado Springs, CO - 642
- Newport News, VA - 615
- Charlotte, NC - 608
- Austin, TX - 607
- Orlando, FL - 596
- Clarksville, TN - 588
- El Paso, TX - 551
- Dallas, TX - 458
- Philadelphia, PA - 737
- Linda Martín Alcoff - philosopher
- Ra Un Nefer Amen - founder of the Pan-African religious organization Ausar Auset Society, dedicated to providing Afrocentric-based spiritual training to people of African descent
- Cirie Fields - American reality TV contestant, famously known for competing on ‘Survivor’.
- Nancy Ames - American folk singer and songwriter; granddaughter of former President of Panama Ricardo Joaquín Alfaro
- Gwen Ifill - American Peabody Award-winning journalist, television newscaster, and author, daughter of a Panamanian immigrant of Bajan descent
- Tatyana Ali - actress and singer
- Braulio Baeza - American Thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey
- Tyson Beckford - actor and model
- Uri Berenguer - play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox Spanish Beisbol Network
- A. R. Bernard - founder, Senior Pastor and CEO of Christian Cultural Center (CCC), in Brooklyn, New York; born in Panama, and emigrated to New York with his family when he was four
- Aloe Blacc - singer
- Roberto Blades - Panamanian salsa singer
- Rubén Blades - salsa singer
- Jordana Brewster - actress
- Jeff Buckley (1966–1997) - American singer-songwriter and guitarist; son of musician Tim Buckley; his mother was a Panama Canal Zonian of mixed Greek, French, American and Panamanian descent
- Rod Carew - Baseball Hall of Famer
- Eddie Castro - Panamanian-born jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing
- El Chombo - American-born Panamanian producer and artist
- Billy Cobham - Panamanian American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader; Panamanian born, American raised
- Emayatzy Corinealdi - American film and television actress
- Ed Cota - American professional basketball player
- Melissa De Sousa - actress
- Ruben Douglas - professional basketball player
- Roberto Durán - Boxing Hall of Famer
- Adrian Fenty - American politician who served as the sixth mayor of the District of Columbia
- Gary Forbes - Panamanian professional basketball player who plays for the Houston Rockets
- Hulk Hogan - professional wrestler; of Italian, French and Panamanian descent
- Sam Hoger - American mixed martial artist
- David Iglesias - American attorney from Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Shoshana Johnson - former United States soldier; first black or Hispanic female prisoner of war in the military history of the US; Panamanian born, and American raised
- Clark Kent
- Olga F. Linares - Panamanian–American academic anthropologist and archaeologist
- John McCain - American politician, long-time U.S. Senator from Arizona from 1987-2018, and 2008 Republican nominee for President of the United States; was born in Panama to parents who were serving in the U.S. Navy, but raised in the United States
- Scott A. Muller - American-born Panamanian Olympic slalom canoer
- Sigrid Nunez - American writer
- Demitrius Omphroy - American-born Panamanian footballer; of Panamanian and Filipino descent
- Jeremy Renner - American actor; maternal grandmother was born in Colón
- J. August Richards - American actor; known for his portrayal of vampire hunter Charles Gunn on the WB cult television series Angel; of Panamanian descent
- Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees pitcher
- Michele Ruiz - broadcaster and founder of SaberHacer.com
- Christian Duke - American lawyer and activist
- Clarence Samuels (1900–1983) - first photographer of Hispanic American of African descent in the United States Coast Guard and first to command a cutter
- Tessa Thompson American actress of Afro-Panamanian and Mexican descent
- Daphne Rubin-Vega - Panamanian-born American dancer, singer-songwriter, and actress.
- Jorge Velásquez - thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey
- Nick Verreos - American fashion designer and contestant on the second season of the reality television program Project Runway; Greek-American father and Panamanian mother
- Juan Williams - journalist and political analyst
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