Panama is a country in Central America situated between North and South America. It is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metro area is home to nearly half of the country’s 3.6 million people.
From clear turquoise seas to the coffee farms and cloud forests of Chiriquí, Panama can be as chilled out or as thrilling as you wish.
With a spate of deserted islands, chill Caribbean vibes on one side and monster Pacific swells on the other, Panama sits poised to deliver the best of all beach worlds. And a whole other world begins at the water’s edge. Seize it by scuba diving with whale sharks in the Pacific, snorkeling the rainbow reefs of Bocas del Toro, or setting sail in the indigenous territory of Kuna Yala, where virgin isles wear nary a footprint. Meanwhile, surfers will be psyched to have world-class breaks all to themselves.
Panama City is nothing if not culturally diverse and driven, rough-edged yet sophisticated. Always a work in progress, construction is underway to add a subway and complete the massive canal expansion. But it’s the particulars that make it special. Pedal the coastal green space, explore the historic Casco, or attend an avant-garde performance, and you will realize this tropical capital isn’t just about salsa, that’s just the backbeat.
In Panama, nature is all about discovery. Explore the ruins of Spanish forts on the Caribbean coast, or boat deep into indigenous territories in a dugout canoe. Wildlife is incidental: a resplendent quetzal on the highland trail, the unruly troupe of screeching howler monkeys outside your cabin, or the breaching whale that turns your ferry ride into an adrenaline-filled event. Adventure tourism means zipping through rainforest canopies, swimming alongside sea turtles, or trekking to sublime cloud forest vistas.
Some fun facts:
- Panama assumed full control of the Panama Canal in 1999, which was previously taken care of by the U.S. troops.
- Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic.
- At its narrowest distance, only 80 kilometers is the land in Panama, which separates the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean.
- Panama has set multi-world records in the area of bird watching and fishing, as it shelters more birds than United States and Canada combined.
- Panama has the most diversified wildlife of all the countries in Central America. It is home to north as well as South American species.
- Panama houses over 10,000 different plants species, including 1,200 varieties of orchids, 678 ferns and more than 1,500 varieties of trees.
- The US Dollar is the official currency and is used for bills but the national currency is called Balboa.
- Panama is situated south of the hurricane alley, so is generally not affected by tropical storms or hurricanes.
- Panama has the lowest population in the Central America. Around 70% of the population is a mixture of Europeans and Native Americans.
- The Panama Canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914.