Who on earth are the Zonians?

Repeating Islands

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Some of the residents in the Panama Canal Zone reaped the benefits of US citizenship – while others were denied the perks, Kate Dailey reports for the BBC.

“It was the best of both worlds.”

That’s how Anna Marquez, a fourth-generation resident of the Panama Canal Zone, described her life before 1999.

The zone was an area of 533 square miles that ran the course of the Panama Canal and was controlled by the US.

Its residents enjoyed the beautiful weather and more relaxed lifestyle of Panama, while also living in comfortable American-style housing, experiencing a top-notch American education and enjoying all the perks of US citizenship.

“It was a strange kind of artificial place,” says Michael Donoghue, author of Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone. His father travelled through the zone during World War Two, and compared it to “a small southern…

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