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(1,751 words)

Author(s): McClure, Garry D.
1. Historical and Social Context The first signs of human settlement on the land mass now called Panama (whose indigenous name means “abundance of fish”) are thought to be 10,000 years old. Panama’s modern history began in 1501, when Spaniard Rodrigo de Bastidas sailed along its Caribbean coast. One year later Christopher Columbus visited the same coast. Not until 1513, however, when Vasco Núñez de Balboa hiked across the isthmus and became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean, did the geograp…