Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Foreign Languages and Literature

First Advisor

Jeanne Gillespie

Advisor Department

Foreign Languages and Literature


The study of a culture is nearly too difficult to accomplish academically, therefore the consilience of data, personal experience, and public opinion offers the most comprehensive approach. The Panama Canal has just celebrated its centennial and remains to this day one of the most important geopolitical and global economic hubs in the world. Nearly every country that participates in maritime trade utilizes the canal. Panama has ambitious plans for the canal’s future, as it nears completion of a multibillion dollar expansion project; however predicting how Panama handles this growth and new responsibility as a major world power is directly related to the country’s past as a pseudo-colony of the US. This study examines the American foreign policy and public involvement during the past 150 years to determine the scope of American influence in Panama. Understanding the culture of present-day Panama gives insight into how we can expect Panama to approach future international relations. This analysis found significant American influence in Panama, however there was also a meaningful amount of other international influencers. From scholarly research and museum observations, it was determined that Panama is one of few nations embracing globalization and using it to their benefit. This small Central American nation has proved that peaceful negotiation and resource management are essential to foreign relations in the twenty-first century. Panama has grown it reputation and global agenda without military strength or a large GDP, and is an example of the way globalization will change all of the countries of the world.