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Located on a narrow isthmus connecting North and South America, Panama is world famous for the Panama canal. Panama declared independence from Colombia in 1903 under US protection. Panamanian politics remained dominated by the United States for most of the 20th century, most notably in 1989 when the United States launched a military invasion to unseat and arrest General Noriega. Sovereignty over the Canal Zone was transferred to Panama in 1999. Panama is one of the few countries in the world without a standing army.