Welcome to Panama
If you are searching for a place to travel and achieve a state of balance with the surrounding nature, Panama is the place for you. In Panama, one can search and achieve that balance in a great variety of sites, from the Metropolitan National Park, a little piece of jungle in the middle of the capital, as on its beautiful coasts and thousands of acres of tropical forest. Panama’s location and climate offer a spectacular opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful sceneries and sounds that nature has to offer, ranging from the complex sounds of the tropical forest to the beauty and tranquility of a desert, and even more relaxing is the crashing of the waves in one of our marvelous beaches. Panama’s beauty however does not reside solely in its landscape, but also in its people, who have an almost mystical way to coexist with nature harmoniously.
The Best of Panama
Ecotourism, Beaches, The Canal & World Heritage Sites
Panama has coasts on two oceans: the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. These coasts, although different, are both suited for all sorts of activities with the different beaches and islands found in them. World famous beautiful beaches and islands will make your visit unforgettable!
Caribbean Sea: On the Caribbean coast, the beaches on the provinces of Colon, San Blas and Bocas del Toro and their neighboring islands, are small to mid-sized and all of them have coral reefs nearby, they are often near other waterways and most have been formed by coral buildup. These are the best beaches to do some scuba diving in.
Pacific Ocean: On this coast you'll find a series of beaches which are easily accessible from the Panamerican Road. Many water sports including windsurfing, surfing and swimming are practiced here.
Panama is an ideal country for direct contact with the tropical rainforest. The only capital in Latin America with a rainforest less than 10 minutes away from downtown and with easy access to three national parks.
If you would like to go into the tropical rainforest, Panama offers national parks declared Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage. Rainforests with the widest variety of flora and fauna in the world (Darién) where we can find over 10,000 plant species and over 1,000 bird species. You can for example visit the Metropolitano, Portobelo, Volcano Baru or Sarigua National Park, just to name a few.
Panama City, the first spanish city on the american Pacific, was founded in 1519 by Pedradiras Davila, in an area that was part of an ethnic coastal village dedicated to fishing. Throughout Panama there are traces of its colonial past, pirates hunting for treasures in the Caribbean and different architectural tendencies that influenced the region.
Considered one of the Eight Wonders of the World, the Panama Canal is one of the most fascinating places in the world, where human genius and skill join to link two oceans and bring the world closer together.
The Panama Canal has a length of approximately 80 kilometers between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Between 13,000 and 14,000 ships use the Canal yearly, thanks to the work of approximately 9,000 workers, working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, offering transit service to ships of all nations.
The Canal uses a locks system that act as water elevators raising the ships from sea-level (Atlantic or Pacific) to 26 meters above sea-level (Gatún Lake). Each set of locks carries the name of the town where it was built: Gatún (on the Atlantic side), Pedro Miguel and Miraflores (on the Pacific). The narrowest part of the Canal is Gaillard Cut and it stretches from the Pedro Miguel Locks to the southern tip of Gatún Lake in Gamboa. This stretch is approximately 13.7 kilometers long.
Take a mini cruise through the Canal and then check out the Visitor Center in Miraflores, the ideal place to see the Canal operating. This installation, recently open to the public, has large balconies from which visitors can see the locks open and close as the ships begin or end their transit. Four exhibition rooms, organized by themes, are the main feature of the Visitor Center. Exhibitions are dedicated to Canal history, the importance of water as a source of life, the Canal operation and its place in worldwide trading.
Source: Panama Tourism Board - www.visitpanama.com
Travel Guides to each region of Panama
Panama is a cosmopolitan, dynamic city where both the modern and traditional unite to create a happy, relaxed and vibrant atmosphere. In love with the Pacific Ocean next to which it was born, Panama City has risen from its shores to the skies displaying extraordinary skyscrapers, many of which are known icons in the entire world.
In Panama, one is accompanied by a sense of freedom. Whenever you like, you can walk or take a stroll, or a bike ride and enjoy the refreshing breeze while contemplating the beauty of the metropolis. The Coastal Beltway is one of the favorite places of all, both Panamanians and tourists meet here to have fun, exercise or just relax. The Amador causeway is another place that is very popular for its spectacular views: on one side you have the Panamanian skyline bordering the sea, and on the other side you can admire the bridge of the Americas, an emblematic structure suspended above the many vessels as they enter the Panama Canal. Take a ride on our trans-isthmian railroad, which was built in 1855; this ride covers 77km between the Pacific and the Caribbean where you will behold the impressive course of the Panama Canal and the exuberant green foliage of the jungle. Truly a memorable moment!
Panama is one of the best destinations for shopping. In its modern shopping malls you will find the most renowned international brands and an incredible variety of products from all over the world. At night, let yourself be seduced by the enchantment of the small bars, spectacular shows and restaurants with excellent cuisine, night clubs and casinos. Don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to return once and again, the happiness in the air is both contagious and addictive!
Panama owns a cultural diversity that makes it unique in the region. One of the biggest contributors to the richness of its culture is the constant presence of visitors from all parts of the world. The origin of this singular cultural mix is, without a doubt, the “crossroads” nature of the country. In addition, the intense connection Panama has with the sea makes it very similar to an island in the Caribbean.
As a point of contact and a crossing site, this small strip of land is considered a true melting pot of races. With over 3 and a half million inhabitants, its population is composed of 67% mestizos (Amerindian and European) and mulatos (white and black), 14% blacks, 10% whites, 6% Amerindian (indigenous people) and 3% from varied ethnic origins. This mixture is particularly rich because, although it comes from a wide array of cultural origins and very diverse traditions, it has been stimulated by the atmosphere of tolerance and harmony that has always reigned in the territory.
Although freedom of religion is respected, most of the population is Catholic and this religion is deeply bound to the traditions and cultural expressions of the country. In the interior of the country, for example, the greatest celebrations are related to several saints.
One of these celebrations relating to cultural and catholic beliefs is the Carnivals of Panama. The Carnivals are a country-wide celebration during the four days preceding the Lent.
La Pollera is the name used in Latin America and Spain for a type of skirt and dress that is known for its elaborate decorations. The skirts are made of different materials, such as cotton or wool, and are often colorfully decorated using various techniques, among which embroidery and lacing with floral designs are commonly employed.
It is believed that the pollera skirt is derived from a Spanish dress from the 16th or 17th century. It was passed down to women in the middle and lower classes as a simpler and easier version in which to carry out their daily chores or attend their regional celebrations. In many Latin American countries it is currently used as a folk costume. While in some countries the name refers to just the skirt part, in Panama the entire dress is called a pollera.
To ensure the safety of pilgrims during World Youth Day 2019, the country has organized itself by concentrating coordination and actions in the Joint Task Force, a multidisciplinary body that brings together the main institutions that ensure security and health in the country, to include: The National Police (PN), the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), the Panamanian Red Cross, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Single Emergency Management System (Sume) 9-1-1.
The Joint Task Force will implement a comprehensive security plan, which includes incident prevention; mobile stations and facilities for health care and ambulance transfers; perimeter of security and surveillance in the city and in the meeting places; support with information and guidance for pilgrims.
Emergency Telephone Numbers in Panama
- *335 or 316-3200
Here and throughout the world, enjoy a safer holiday by following these simple guidelines:
- Decide your destination in advance and have a planned route of travel.
- Always be alert and aware of what is going on around you.
- If your vehicle is bumped from behind, do not stop on the roadway or side road. Drive to the nearest public area and call for police assistance.
- If someone in suspicious attitude approaches your vehicle at a red light or stop sign, blare the horn.
- Do not pull over for flashing headlights. An emergency or police vehicle is the only one authorized to turn on red or blue flashing lights.
- If you become lost, try to find a public place, like a service station, to read your map or ask for directions. Do not show yourself nervous. If you are told that something is wrong with your vehicle, do not stop immediately. Drive to the nearest service station or to another well lighted public area.
- Keep doors locked and windows shut up when driving, and mainly when the vehicle is parked.
- Goods and valuables should be kept in the trunk, locked glove compartment, or out of sight whenever traveling or leaving the vehicle parked.
- Always park in well lit areas.
- Check the interior of your vehicle and surrounding areas before getting on your vehicle.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers.
- If using an automatic cashier, be sure the area is well lit. Count your money inside your vehicle with the windows shout up.
- Do not leave the keys in your vehicle or the motor on when using the automatic cashier or in a public telephone.
- If you suspect that you are being followed, go to the nearest well lit public area and call the police.
- If you must carry a purse or back pack, hold it in front of you close to your body. Be sure it is securely closed.
- Just in case, if you are threatened by a hostile individual, do not resist. Give the person what is asked for. Your belongings are not worth your life or serious injury. In case of emergency call the number 911 on any telephone.
- Pay for the airport taxes only at authorized places.
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