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Panama's Cultural Heritage

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Panama has always been a meeting point between cultures. With over 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 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.

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