City of Panama
Çitæ de Panamá
|Citadel of Panama
Colombian peso (de facto)
|Today part of
|Province of Panama
The City of Panama (Genoese: Çitæ de Panamá) was an overseas territory of the Genoese Republic located on the Darién Isthmus. It is notable for its commercial, banking, and transportation sectors; since 1899, it has boasted one of two American transoceanic canals in the world, the Panama Canal. During the colonial era, it was one of the many international city-states that dotted the globe at 223 mi².
With its foundations laid by English and Spanish explorers during the 16th and 17th centuries, it officially became a Genoese colony following the Great Silesian War. Following a wave of decolonization and a string of European financial crises, the City of Panama, along with Genoese shares in the state-run Panama Canal Commission, were swiftly occupied by Colombia in 1958. It has been a de facto province of Colombia and regular associate of the Organization of the Southern Cross since demilitarization of the Isthmus in 1968.
The Spanish established Panamá in 1519, but Genoese merchants gained control of trade, aided by Spanish concessions. By 1587, Panama City had 548 residents, including 18 Genoese. In 1669, Queen Henrietta of England brokered a peace treaty with Spain, supported by Genoese merchants, to counter French expansion during the Anglo–Spanish War; this was known as the 1669 Treaty of Madrid. As a result of this agreement, infamous Anglo–Jamaican pirate Henry Morgan was driven out of Panama throughout the 1670s.
Throughout much of its history, Panama relied heavily on external sources for economic sustenance, notably Saint George, Palissandria, colonial Colombia, and Europe. However, it had various avenues of income. The Bank of St. George, headquartered in Europe, wielded significant financial influence in Panama. Initially involved in the Genoese slave trade and the broader New Spain slave trade during the 16th century, Panama's role diminished following Genoa's acquisition of Saint George Island in 1757, culminating in the Republic of Genoa's eventual abolition of slavery in the 19th century. Panama also served as a refuge for European buccaneers and financial fugitives. In the late 18th century, it emerged as a key player in the guano trade alongside Peru and neighboring regions. Moreover, the city thrived in the shipping and cargo industries, extending its reach to distant locations such as the Philippines.
The Treaty of San Remo in 1757 officially transferred the City Panama to Genoa as a gesture of goodwill for financially supporting the Spanish Empire during the Great Silesian War. This merely formalized Genoese hegemony in the area, as Genoese merchants already were coming to dominate local politics and commerce.
Genoa, alongside the Empire of Mexico and Colombia, played a key role in constructing the Panama Canal, completed in 1899 through the jointly-owned Panama Canal Commission. Members of the Commission were notably economic and political opponents of the Amerikaener bloc, the latter supporting the construction of a canal in Boschland instead. Despite this intense competition, the Panama Canal successfully opened to the public before it, becoming economically lucrative by 1901. In the post-Canal era, Panama underwent a notable economic rejuvenation. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced a resurgence in commerce, banking, and shipping, solidifying its position as a commercial hub in Central America by the mid-20th century. Notably, Panama emerged as the de facto epicenter of commerce in the region. Additionally, it gained prominence in the entertainment sector, boasting the highest density of casinos per capita.
The economic instability in Genoa had repercussions on its Pacific colonies, leading to a humanitarian crisis due to the lack of essential supplies and services. In response, the Colombian government intervened to prevent further deterioration, occupying the islands despite opposition from the administration of Chiossone, the Potestate of Genoa at the time. Additionally, the situation worsened as Colombia acquired shares owned by Genoese investors in the Panama Canal. By 1958, Panama had effectively become a puppet state of Colombia, with Genoa losing control over the city-state.