Amerindian and mestizo 68% Black 10% White 15% Amerindian 6%
Spanish (Official), 14% speak English, Indian languages
75-85% Roman Catholic, 15-25% evangelical Christian; Mormon, Jewish, Muslim and other communities are in minorities
Constitutional Democratic Republic
$8,514 (2012 Estimate) (International monetary fund)
10,6 % (2011)
Inflation 5,9% 2012 -estimation
Banking, services, construction, petroleum refining, brewing, tourism, cement and other construction materials, sugar milling, shipping and agriculture
USA, EU, Central America & Caribbean, Japan
Every visitor needs a valid passport and an onward ticket to enter Panama, but further requirements vary from country to country and occasionally change. UK, Germany and Switzerland citizens and many other nationalities need only a passport, while people from Japan, New Zealand, USA, Venezuela and more need a tourist visa or tourist card (US$5) as well. Contact an embassy or consulate for current details.
GMT/UTC minus 5 hours
Variable – majority of sockets have 110 V same with the US, but there are unpredictable variations; some hotels contain 220 V. Confirm with your hotel.
Metric, although pounds, ounces, inches are still commonly used
The Republic of Panama with an area of approximately 29,100 sq. miles (75,500 sq. km.), located between Costa Rica and Colombia, forms the narrowest and lowest portion of the Isthmus that links North and South America.
Shaped like an elongated letter "S", which extends west to east some 420 miles (676 km.), the country has a width that varies between 31 and 115 miles (50 and 185 km,) and has a coastline of 490 miles (788 km.) on the Atlantic Ocean and 870 miles (1,400 kin.) on the Pacific Ocean. The Canal, which joins the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, is about 50 miles (80 km.) long. Because of the lateral nature of its extension and its curved contour, directions are often surprising. A transit of the Canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic involves traveling not to the East but to the North-West; in Panama City the sun is seen to rise out of the Pacific.
The Isthmus of Panama was discovered in 1501 by Rodrigo de Bastidas and Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who had a leading part in the establishment of Santa María La Antigua del Darién in 1510, the first permanent settlement on the mainland of the Americas. In 1513, Balboa led an expedition, in Panama, that discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Panama City was founded by Pedro Arias Dávila on August 15, 1519, almost a hundred years before Jamestown, first permanent English settlement in North America was founded. Panama was a Spanish colony until 1821 when it became part of the Gran Colombia of Simón Bolivar. In 1903, Panama broke its alliance with Colombia and became an independent republic.
The executive branch of the Government is at present composed of a President and two Vice-Presidents, democratically elected for a five year term by direct vote.
Cities & Provinces
Panama City is the country's capital and the principal commercial center. It lies on the Gulf of Panama in the Pacific Ocean. Colon, the country's second largest city, is located on the Caribbean Coast. Its economy is dependent on traffic through the Panama Canal and on business activity in the Colon Free Trade Zone, the largest duty-free zone in the Americas. Chiriqui is the second most developed province in the country after Panama City located on western coast of the country; its capital is the city of David. Chiriqui is a popular tourist destination boasting of its natural beauty and high altitudes like those found in the small town of Boquete.
Population and Language
The population of Panama is approximately 3.5 million, about 52 percent of which is urban.
Spanish is the Official language of the country, but many of the people in Panama City and Colón speak English. Most businessmen, top government officials and executive staff are fully bilingual.
Education and Religion
More than 80% of the population over ten (10) years of age is literate. School attendance is compulsory between the ages of seven (7) and fifteen (15) or until the six grades of primary school have been completed. The educational system provides for the free schooling of all children. An excellent parallel private school system exists primarily in Panama City.
The main universities are the University of Panama, a state institution, with six campuses, and the University of Santa Maria La Antigua, a Catholic institution. There are more than five other private universities, plus the recently created City of Knowledge.
Panama City boasts an excellent private school system. Education is offered in English, French, Italian, Mandarin and there are several bilingual schools (Spanish/English).
The predominant religion is Roman Catholic. However, there is no prohibition against the practice of any religion, and churches of other denominations are to be found in the country.
Weights and Measures
The metric system is the official unit of measurement in Panama. However, many units of the English system, such as pounds, ounces, gallons, inches, and yards, are still used.
Panama's time is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Thus, Panama is on Eastern Standard Time (EST); it does not have daylight saving time. Most private business offices are open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.
It is customary for all offices and stores to close for the lunch period for at least one and a half hours. Banks are open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00-3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Office hours for government offices vary and it is advisable to check prior to visiting any government office.
If a holiday falls on Sunday, it is observed on the following day. The executive branch is authorized to designate days of national mourning on which all offices and commercial businesses are closed.
Standard Cost of Living
According to the most recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Panama City is the third least expensive city in the world. Here is a brief cost analysis of some very basic products and services in Panama:
Public Transport- (Metro Bus) 25 cent (Taxi) $1.25 starting rate
Gas per gallon- $4.10
1 liter of milk- $1.63
Average Doctor Visit- $20-$40
Local Beer- (can) 48 cent
Average Movie Theater Ticket- $3.50
As of 2011 The Panamanian Tourism Authority grants all visitors arriving at Tocumen International Airport receive free and complete medical coverage for their first thirty days of stay. Upon arrival the visitor may consult with the tourist information center located in the immigration area of the airport to be provided with a brochure that outlines all pertinent information along with a user card. This card along with a valid passport is what the visitor will present should he/she require medical assistance at any local health center. The insurance policy covers accidental death up to $20,000, it covers hospitalization and medical expenses for injuries due to accidents or in case of contracting a disease in Panama up to $7,000, expenses for dental emergency up to $ 2,000, it covers administrative legal assistance up to $ 3,500, and provides assistance for lost or theft of important documents. The policy does not cover incidents caused by negligence, those related to alcohol and drugs, or those caused by extreme sports.
Panama City has excellent trauma hospitals. Panama boasts of the first hospital in Latin America and the Caribbean to be associated with John Hopkins Medicine International. In 2011 Hospital Punta Pacifica was awarded official accreditation of Joint Commission International (JCI) solidifying the Hospital’s position as a state of the art private medical facility offering the highest standards in patient care and services.
Panama has a warm tropical climate, and seasons are divided into wet and dry. Panama is located between 9.0° and 7.5°degrees north of the equator, and does not experience seasons marked by changes in temperature, like countries located at further distance from the equator. The Dry Season generally last from mid December through the beginning of April with daytime temperatures between 85-90ºF [28-32ºC]. Nighttime temperatures fall into the comfortable 70-74ºF [20-23ºC] range. The Wet Season lasts from mid April to late December, and daytime temperatures drop few degrees. Along the Pacific coast the Wet Season can be quiet enjoyable, with sunny mornings and thunderstorms building in the afternoons, unloading heavy precipitation followed by periodic clearing. October & November can bring heavy amounts of uninterrupted rains. The Caribbean coastline has much shorter dry periods, and rains can be expected any time of the year. Panama is located well south of the hurricane belt and therefore is not affected by destructive weather systems that often devastate nations and islands further north.
The biggest environmental issues affecting Panama’s natural environment are water pollution from agricultural runoff which threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of the Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; and mining which threaten natural resources.
Attractions & Entertainment
From the antique Casco Viejo all the way to the pristine islands of San Blas, there are plenty of attractions to be seen and ways to be entertained throughout the entire country. Here are just a few that Panama City has to offer:
A guided city tour on a towering Two-Decker Tour Bus, or an amphibious Aqua Bus, or even a Panama Trolley is a very practical way to hit many sites including the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, the city’s tallest skyscrapers or even Old Panama known locally as “Panama Viejo”
The nightlife along Calle Uruguay offers modern nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and even hotels with social areas.
The islands of the Amador Causeway offer everything from open-air activities like bike riding to yacht gazing and fine dining.
Panama City is home to scores of delicious restaurants as proven by its top spot of several lists of the best in Latin American cuisine.
Casinos are not in short supply and provide a viable way to spend a Saturday evening with friends for locals and tourists alike.
The rainforest environment of Ancon Hill and Metropolitan Park offer wonderful slices of pristine nature within minutes of the city limits.
As per the US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security (OSAC), Panama remains relatively safe when compared to neighboring Central American countries. The countries major cities: Panama, Colon, and Chiriqui represent the most densely populated areas with the most sporadic rates of crime. However increased efforts by the National Police (PNP) have significantly combated and even reduced high crime rates. The PNP have created a special unit (Tourism Police) to deal with crimes against tourists and foreigners. The PNP have substations in all the major regions in Panama and numerous offices in Panama City.