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Panama City, originally called Ciudad de Panamá, is the capital and largest city in Panama, as well as the nation's commercial and cultural hub. Located on an isthmus near the southern tip of North America, Panama City benefits from its proximity to the Panama Canal – the only shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans north of the Straits of Magellan. Panama declared its independence from Columbia in 1903 with the help of the American Navy. The United States controlled the canal from 1904 until 1999. Since the year 2000, high-rise condominium construction is on the rise, mainly due to strong overseas demand. The new developments are mainly located in Punta Pacifica and Costa del Este areas.