Flag of Panama. Public domain.

Coat of arms of Republic of Panama. Public domain.

Coat of Arms and its symbols

The green narrow isthmus, where two oceans meet and two continents link, is depicted beautifully in the central position of the national shield. The positions of sun and moon, according to Panamanian law written in 1904, “ the sun, which begins to hide behind the mountain, to the west, and the moon that begins to rise after the night waves , to the east, to signify the solemn hour of the Separation of Panama from Colombia on November 3, 1903. ” The motto, “Pro Mundi Beneficio”, means “For the Benefit of the World”, referring at least in part to the Panama Canal.1

Synopsis of Colonial History

Panama was first settled by Spain in 1510 and continued as a Spanish colony for more than three hundred year (1510-1821). In 1821, Panama broke from Spain and joined a union of Nuevo Grande Venezuela and Ecuador, named Republic de Gran Columbia (1819-1831).  Upon that entity’s dissolution Panama and Nuevo Grande remained together under the name Columbia (1831-1903).  Panama seceded from Columbia in 1903 proclaiming its independence as The Republic of Panama (1903-present).

Canal Construction

France began working on the Canal project began in 1881; but abandoned it in 1889, due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate.2 Yellow Fever and Malaria plagued the workers in the era prior to the discovery of the mosquito’s part in transmission of diseases. In 1900, U.S. Army Maj. Walter Reed and British Army Dr. Ronald Ross proved that infected mosquitoes were the vector for these diseases.3 The project was taken over by the United States on May 4, 1904 and U.S. Army doctor Col. William Gorgas, appointed Chief Medical Officer, applied solutions based upon the discovery of Reed and Ross.4 The mosquitoes were abated and the Canal completed in 1914.


  1. wikipedia, Coat of Arms of Panama
  2. University of Kansas Medical Center French Panama Canal Failure 1881-1889
  3. Underwood, E. Ashworth. “Walter Reed.” Encyclopedia Britannica, November 18, 2020.
  4., This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes,  Logan Nye Posted On April 02, 2018 09:39:42