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Panama Info

  • History   ( 1 Articles )

    Panama, because of its geography, has historically occupied a strategic position globally. Because of the narrow width of the country, Panama is the ideal connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and as such, was key for all the countries to which it belonged during its history. From the Camino Real, the trail the Spaniards used to move pack trains of gold from the Pacific to the Caribbean ports to ship back to Spain, to the Panama Railway moving US miners across Panama to get to the gold rush, and now the Panama Canal moving its huge container ships today, Panama has been a bridge between the east and the west.

    This concentration of wealth attracted pirates and privateers such as Francis Drake, who attacked Portobelo in 1596 and Henry Morgan who supposedly burned and looted the first Panama City (Panama Viejo) in 1671. The city was then rebuilt in the current historic center of the capital, now known as Casco Viejo or San Felipe, becoming a hotbed of development for the future republic.

    Motivated by the winds of freedom of neighboring countries, Panama became independent from Spain in November 1821. The matter was not surprising because its communication with Spain had deteriorated. However, the independence process was peaceful.

    After independence from Spain, Panama joined voluntarily to the Great Colombia, the dream of Simon Bolivar. This new nation was formed by Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

    Initially, the historic union greatly benefited the country, giving way to a new vision of Latin American leaders behind a large regional development. This period marked a milestone in the world, giving the United States permission to build the first trans-isthmian railroad.

    On November 3, 1903, Panama, enabled by the strong support and backing of the United States and then President Teddy Roosevelt (and the bribing of the Colombian military leadership), peacefully became a free and sovereign republic, totally separated from Colombia. Roosevelt’s primary motivation was his agreement with the Panamanians that in exchange for his support, both political and military, the United States would be granted permission to build the Panama Canal and to control what was to become known as the Canal Zone, a buffer zone extending the full length of the canal and five miles wide on either side of the canal. The US controlled this zone as sovereign territory until midnight on December 31, 1999, at which point the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone were turned over to the Republic of Panama, as per the treaty negotiated and signed in the 1970’s by then US President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian Dictator, Omar Torrijos.

    In 1904 the construction of the Panama Canal was begun by the Americans, a work regarded as the eighth wonder of the world. The French had originally begun this gigantic project, but the weather, tropical diseases and misappropriation of funds prevented them from finishing the job. The Americans took note and decided to continue construction of the Canal and the development of the Panama Canal Zone. This period changed Panama forever, transforming it back into the bridge of the world and a home to a society of economic wealth.

    Panama today is considered the most developed country in Central America and one of the countries with the highest constant rates of economic growth and tourism throughout the Americas. Panama is also considered a secure nation, peaceful and prosperous. This is a country at the forefront of change and movement, with an international banking center, successful law firms, insurance, call centers, malls along with a beautiful diversity of cultures, an enviable ecological wealth and a thriving tourism business.

  • At A Glance   ( 1 Articles )

    The Republic of Panama is a long narrow strip of land that connects Central and South America. Bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea on the east by the Republic of Colombia, on the south by the Pacific Ocean and on the west by the Republic of Costa Rica, the Isthmus of Panama is 50 miles wide at its narrowest point. When at the 11,400 foot summit of the Baru Volcano (Vulcan Baru), one can see the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Caribbean sea to the north. Because the windy, narrow isthmus of land extends from west to east, it is the only place in the world where the sun rises on the Pacific and sets on the Atlantic or Caribbean. Also, because of its location and positioning, Panama is protected on the west by Costa Rica and on the East by Columbia. As a result, hurricanes do not hit Panama and it does not suffer from any other natural disasters.

    The Capital of Panama is Panama City, which contains approximately one third of the population of this country of three million Panamanian people. The Government of Panama is a constitutional democracy, the official language is Spanish, and the monetary unit of exchange in Panama, although called the Balboa, is actually the US Dollar.

    The average temperature in Panama is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainy season is from May through November, which is considered Panama’s winter, and the dry season is December through April, or summer time.

    Tipping is customary in Panama at ten to fifteen perscent of the bill or check.

    Foreigners can drive in Panama with a valid foreign drivers license for a period in country of up to 90 days.

  • Panama's Cultural History   ( 1 Articles )

    Panama has always been a meeting point between cultures. With nearly 3 million inhabitants, its population consists of 67% Mestizo (Amerindian with whites) and colored (white with black), 14% black, 10% white, 6% Amerindian (indigenous) and 3% people of diverse ethnic origins. This mixture is particularly rich in traditions and cultural foundations, so that both visitors and the Panamanians are respected equally.

     

    Being a country that respects the freedom of belief, the population of Panama is composed of a majority Roman Catholic (about 85%). This is followed by evangelical Christians with a 10%. The remaining 5% is divided between Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Orthodoxy and groups of Protestant Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists.

     

    The seven indigenous groups in Panama are settled in semi-autonomous territories. The most representative of the western region, including the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro and Veraguas are the Ngöbe Buglé, Naso-Teribe and Bri-bri. Together they comprise 70% of the country's indigenous population. In the east, Panama is populated by the Emberá and Wounaan in Darien, and the Kunas in the region of Kuna Yala. The Emberá and Wounaan live in the rainforest, just like their ancestors did for centuries. Their understanding and respect for nature is innate, and their skills in carving and woven baskets is exquisite. The Kuna settled on the shores and islands of the Caribbean and are characterized by a strong protection of their traditions and their molas, which handicrafts made on canvas.

     

    The descendants of Africans were established in the central region of Panama and Darien, where the cadence of Bullerengue and Bunde still evoke the origins of their traditions. Originally, they were brought to the isthmus by Spanish colonizers to work in the sugar cane plantations. A second wave of black immigration came to the isthmus from the West Indies for the construction of the Panama Canal, at the beginning of the 20th century. This group, English-speaking, settled in Panama City, Colon and Bocas del Toro. The mestizos and mulattos are the result of years of marriages between different races and ethnicities, and are scattered throughout Panama. Their folklore is expressed through music and dance, and regional foods such as rice with chicken and sancocho. Their attitude is festive, shines at fairs and festivals, as well as through their characteristic friendly treatment of foreigners.

     

    Panama has always been and always will be a meeting point between various ethnic groups and races, now accessible from anywhere in the world for every traveler, always making them feel at home, always recalling their traditions and their constant desire to evolve as a culture.

  • The Panama Canal   ( 1 Articles )
    The eighth wonder of the world!!
  • Panama City Guide   ( 1 Articles )
    Restaurants, Shops and Tourist Attractions in Panama City
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