The population of Panama has grown from about 892,502 in 1950 to 3,460,462 in 2011; which is an average growth rate of a little less than 2% per year.
The population of Costa Rica in 1950 was 866,982, which was less than Panama at the time. However, by 1954 Costa Rica's population had grown to match the size of Panama and has continued to grow more quickly than Panama such that Costa Rica's population in 2011 of 4,576,562 is more than a million more people than Panama in 2011. The population of Nicaragua and the population of Honduras have also both outpaced Panama over the past 60 plus years.
Panama's population growth rate has slowly declined over the years from about 2.5% per year in 1950 to 1.5% per year currently. However, compared to many of its neighboring countries, Panama's growth rate has been fairly consist. For example, Nicaragua's growth rate spiked in the early 1990's above 5% but has since declined significantly and is now nearing a 1%. Historically, Panama's growth rate has been more in line with larger countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.
Panama's demographic development has continued at a steady pace over the years with average life expectancy in 1980 of about 70 years old growing slowly up to 78 years old in 2011. The life expectancy of a person born in the United States in 2011 is 78 years, so Panama's life expectancy numbers are quite high.
In addition, the infant mortality rate has dropped in Panama by over 65% from a rate of 3.5% in 1980 to a rate of 1.2% in 2011. Although this may not be as good as the United States infant mortality rate for 2011 of 0.6%, Panama is clearly making great strides in social developments.
Source Data: US Census Bureau