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Situated on the southernmost end of the isthmus connecting North America and South America, Panama plays its role of “middle ground” well: Home to many species that hail from each of its two larger continental neighbors — as well as many species found nowhere else in the world — Panama enjoys the most diverse wildlife of all Central American countries. Although it is slightly smaller than South Carolina, Panama has the largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere outside the Amazon Basin. Nearly 500 rivers traverse the country’s rugged landscape, including the Chagres, one of Panama’s widest waterways and the source of enormous hydroelectric power. Deforestation is a continual threat in the country, where tree cover has been reduced by more than 50 percent since the 1940s.

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