People who reside in Panama are called Panamanians. Ethnically, most people are considered mestizo, or Spanish and Indian. The area is home to seven distinct indigenous groups as well, including the Embera, Waounan, Kuna, Bugle, Ngobe, Terribe and Nassau peoples.
Panama, which the Spanish settled in the 1500s, broke its ties with Spain in 1821. At the time, the country became aligned with Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador to form the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the union dissolved in 1830, Panama stayed aligned with Colombia until 1903. Between 1904 and 1914, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Panama Canal, which stretches nearly 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.