A Zonian is a person associated with the Panama Canal Zone, a political entity which existed between 1903 and the absorption of the Canal Zone into the Republic of Panama between 1980 and 2000. Many Zonians are descendants of the civilian American workers who came to the area during the early 1900s to work and maintain the canal. Today Zonians might work at the canal itself. Others may have been American citizens born in the Canal Zone or who spent their childhood there. A significant presence of American canal workers remained in the Canal region until 1999.
Many of these people consider themselves to be Panamanian and U.S. citizens, although quite a few say that they are only American or only Panamanian. This unique relation--physically near Panama yet citizens of the U.S.--makes Zonians a diasporic community, with members turning to online forums (such as the PANAMA-L listserv) to discuss and debate issues such as nationalism, belonging, and national identity.
The Panama Canal Society holds a reunion for Zonians every year, usually in Orlando, Florida. It's frequently said by Zonians that drinking the water of the Chagres River (which supplied much of the drinking water for the area) dooms one to forever seek to return.
- John McCain, senior United States senator from Arizona, was the Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 United States election.
- Rod Carew, professional baseball player
- Kenneth Bancroft Clark, noted African-American psychologist
- Karen Hughes, former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
- Frederick W. Leslie, American astronaut
- Gustavo Adolfo Mellander, College president, historian, author of several books on Panama and the Canal Zone.
- Richard Prince, painter and photographer
- Charles S. Spencer, Curator of Mexican and Central American Archaeology, American Museum of Natural History
- Stephen Stills, noted rock musician
- Andrew Whitehead, political activist
- Evan Rodaniche, Guitarist Powerman 5000
- Frederik Pohl, Science Fiction writer and editor
- Edward A. Murphy, Jr., aerospace engineer, best known for the eponymous Murphy's law
- Leo Barker, NFL linebacker for Cincinnati Bengals, 1984–1991
- Al Sprague, "National Asset" of Panama; famous 20–21st century realist artist/sculptor of Panamanian dancers and fishing themes.
- Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
- Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
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