What Panama Has to offer?
Panama is a small tropical paradise between two large oceans: the Atlantic and the Pacific, connected by a canal that joins the world. It has hundreds of beautiful beaches and islands, exuberant natural parks, traditional small towns, extensive farmlands and a thriving capital, filled with skyscrapers, banks, businesses, restaurants and many attractions. Panama is above all a rich and diverse melting pot of cultures, with generous and joyful people. This is the country we love, the country we know well and we wish to show it to those who come from abroad, so they can enjoy it too.
THE PANAMA CANAL
The Atlantic and Pacific oceans are connected by an 82-kilometers canal, which divides the Panamanian isthmus. The Canal started operations in 1914. Its locks system raises vessels to a lake and then it lowers them into the other ocean. In 2016, the Canal was expanded with a new set of locks for larger boats. There are two visitor centers at the Canal, where you can enjoy its operation and history.
This was the first city ever built on mainland by the Spanish colonizers in 1519, and it is located on the Pacific coast. English pirates attacked it in 1571, after crossing the whole isthmus by foot and through rivers from the Atlantic Ocean. The conflict provoked by the attack was the reason for its destruction. The preserved 500-years ruins are testimony of the city’s history.
This is the place where the city was rebuilt after 1673, not very far from the first city’s ruins. Its narrow streets, churches, plazas, and restored historic buildings and colonial ruins are one of the capital’s main attractions. The neighborhood is full of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and small businesses, with local handcrafts. It is a hot spot of the city’s nightlife.
This wide avenue with high traffic, and wide green spaces, sidewalks and entertainment areas, runs along the Panama Bay, with a great view of the city’s skyline, the Pacific Ocean and the historic district. From a distance, you can see the Amador causeway and the ships waiting to enter the Canal.
Its shape and colors are inspired in a macaw with its wings opened. It was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, who’s wife is Panamanian. It was built on Amador Causeway, at the Canal entrance. It is an interactive museum, which displays how the isthmus developed such rich natural life. Panama is one the countries with the largest biodiversity in the world.
Beaches and islands
Panama is a country with coastlines on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, with numerous beaches and islands under a delightful tropical weather. Among the most known islands are three main archipelagos: Pearl Islands, in the Pacific Ocean; and Guna Yala and Bocas del Toro, in the Atlantic Ocean. From mid-July to mid-September, you can go whale watching on the Pacific. Around that time of the year, turtles arrive to lay their eggs on the sandy beaches of the Pacific coast. The beaches and islands closer to Panama City are about an hour and half by car.
A large part of the country is covered in tropical rainforest, with wide spaces protected as natural parks. This exotic nature, full of wildlife and vegetation, is worth visiting or hiking to enjoy the rainforest life, beautiful rivers and clear-water waterfalls. The Natural Park closer to Panama City is the Metropolitan Natural Park, which is within the city limits. Other natural parks are Camino de Cruces, Soberania and Chagres. Another good spot to appreciate nature is Summit Municipal Park, which has a botanical garden and small zoo, which is home to the national bird, the harpy eagle.
Panama is a melting pot, with native groups, descendants from Spanish settlers and important migrations, like the Africans brought as slaves during the Spanish Conquest, and the Afro-Caribbean who came from railroad and Panama Canal construction. The mix of all these cultures makes up Panama’s identity.
Through out the year, there are festivals and fairs, which exhibit local cultural traditions. The most famous one is the Carnival, celebrated in the capital and the provinces.