Canal Zone


Map of Canal ZoneFlag of Canal Zone




























After attaining independence from Spain in 1821, Panama allied itself with the Republic of Colombia. Unsatisfied with the status of a 'Department' of Nueva Granada, political leaders of the Isthmus tried repeatedly to gain their independence and establish sovereignty.


In the late 1890s the desire to improve commerce of the country and effectiveness of the military led to the United States' decision to build a transoceanic canal. After debating on the most economically sound route, it was determined that the Isthmus of Panama was the most practical location. The United States' determination to build the Canal, combined with Panama's need for military support in their quest for independence from Colombia, set the stage for a unique partnership between the two countries. On 3 November 1903 Panamanians revolted and proclaimed their independence from Colombia. United States Marines landed in Colon, and prevented Colombian troops from marching to the city of Panama. On 6 November 1903 the Republic of Panama was formally recognized by the United States.


On 18 November 1903, amidst controversy, the Isthmian Canal Convention (also referred to as the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty) was signed. This agreement gave the United States the right "in perpetuity" to construct, maintain, and defend an interoceanic waterway across the Isthmus over which the United States would exercise rights, powers and authority "as if it were Sovereign of the territory." This document also granted to the United States the right to control the sanitation of the Panama Canal Zone and the two port cities of Panama and Colon.


The United States of America, represented by the Governor of the Panama Canal Zone, officially proclaimed occupation of the Isthmus of Panama on 19 May 1904. Controversy over the conditions surrounding the signing of the 1903 Treaty resulted in continuous friction between the Panamanian and United States governments, and although there were numerous other conventions and treaties signed during the intervening years, the original treaty was not renegotiated until 1977.


While the Canal's importance to trade and rapid military transit between the East and West coasts of the United States remained vital, by the mid-1970s the probability of successfully defending the Canal against an enemy attack had decreased. The defence of the canal was deemed "hardly possible against either sabotage or missiles. It was decided that the best protection of the Canal was to assure Panama's own vital interest in preserving its greatest natural resource."


Increasing political pressure, growing Panamanian nationalism, and social unrest within Panama resulted in an agreement calling for the negotiation of a new treaty with a "fixed termination date."


President Jimmy Carter, representing the United States of America, and General Omar Torrijos, representing the Republic of Panama, signed the Panama Canal Treaty and allied agreements on 7 September 1977. Those documents became effective on 1 October 1979, 'Treaty Day'.


On 31 December 1999 the Panama Canal Treaty terminated, the United States presence ceased and Panama assumed full control and responsibility for the operation, maintenance and defence of the Panama Canal.



Capital:                      Balboa

Government:              territory within Panama, administered by the United States

Area:                         1.432 kmē

Population:                 36.000 (1964)

Currency:                   United States Dollar (100 cents)






Canal Zone in Wikipedia.

Flag of the Governor of the Canal Zone in Flags of the World.

Address of Governor Parfitt at the lowering of the flag, 30 September 1979.




Stamp catalogue


The World United Against Malaria

date:                  24 September 1962

designer:            -

printer:               Bureau of Engraving and Printing, United States

perforated:         11

remark:              air mail


1     7 c               campaign emblem, malaria mosquito, text "THE WORLD UNITED AGAINST MALARIA"

                          yellow, black

                          (cat. Michel 150/SG 223/Yvert PA 32)


Canal Zone - stamp as described above









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last revised: 22 September 2008