The Republic of Panama is located in Central America running from Costa Rica to the west of and Colombia to the east. Panama is best known for the canal that connects the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Panama City has such a diversity of people that have come from all over the world, shaping Panama to what it is today. Distinctive by its strategically location and situated on one of the great crossroads of the world, Panama’s early importance centered on its position as a transshipment route between Spain and its New World colonies. Panama was, as a result, one of Spain’s wealthiest colonial centers during the 17th century, the city has always being excellent for commerce, its unique geographical position and the opportunities it presents have attracted immigrants from all over the globe.
Panama is a Pre-Columbian word which means “abundance in fish, butterflies, and trees”, but people like to say that everything is found in abundance here. And it’s true, as visitors will quickly discover for themselves. You’ll find an abundance of gorgeous beaches found along the country’s thousand miles of coastline, and on the hundreds of islands just off-shore. Many of these beaches are totally undeveloped and are ideal for those seeking solitude on their own private strip of sand. In the warm waters of both oceans, the snorkeling and diving are glorious. In addition, you will find abundant wildlife in Panama’s many national parks and in the tropical rainforest.
As the Canal connects two oceans, Panama is the bridge that connects Central and South America, Panama has a wide range of tropical landscape and is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. It is known for 1500 species of trees, over 7000 vascular plants and almost 1000 species of birds. A magnificent place for bird watchers, records are routinely set in the Audubon Society’s Christmas bird count. Panama is home to 220 species of mammals, 354 reptiles and amphibians, 1,500 species of diurnal butterflies and a thousand species of orchids, many visitors come to take advantage of abundant ecotourism opportunities that Panama offers.
In cosmopolitan Panama City, you’ll find about 120 banks and innumerable shops selling local crafts and a selection of the finest goods from around the world, all at unbelievably low prices. Virtually every major manufacturer in the world is represented in the Colon Free Zone.
Throughout Panama you’ll discover an abundance of fine restaurants, hotels, convention facilities and nightclubs. And, last but not least, you’ll find an abundance of smiles, from Panama’s friendly and helpful people, who are eager to ensure that you enjoy your stay here. Welcome to Panama, the crossroads of the world, the home of the Panama Canal and the country of abundance!
Whether you choose Panama to visit as a tourist, investor, or a possible place for retirement; you will find that Panama offers the benefits you are looking for.
Chiriqui: a true paradise with something for everyone
Chiriqui, the westernmost province of Panama’s Pacific coast, offers visitors some of the republic’s most varied activities, from swimming beaches to mountain climbing to city life. For those interested in any of the followings, Chiriqui is the place to find them: horseback riding, flower growing, trout fishing, hot springs, coffee, beer tasting, orange growing, cattle farms, alpine farms, thoroughbred farms, hunting, surfing, deep sea fishing, bird watching, white water rafting, kayaking, biking and many other hobbies.
David is the third city of importance of the republic, being capital of the province of Chiriqui. Most sightseeing spectacles are within easy access from here, great numbers of alluring mountain hotels can be found in the cooler climate of Boquete and Volcan.
Boquete, biggest town in the Chiriquí Highland, is located between 900-1200m above sea level and set in the Moon Valley 38km north of David with its weather loved by locals and foreigners. It is well known for it coffee production -Boquete’s renowned geisha coffee is one of the most expensive in the world- and for being one of the top places chosen by foreigners to visit and built their second home. Surrounded by mountains covered by a fine mist that descends from the clouds, it often offers a magnificent view to Panama’s highest point El Volcan Baru.
Boquete is also home to such renowned events as the Boquete International Fair of Coffee and Flowers, The Orchids Fair, and The Boquete Jazz Festival. The cultural scene is vibrant, with theater presentations throughout the year.
Chill streams bounding down from el Volcan Baru (11,400 feet) through Boquete, Cerro Punta and Volcan offering in its cold water rivers other variety of fish as trout, mullet and others, which gives you an extra choices for those who love fishing and want to taste a different type of fish.
PANAMA QUICK FACTS BY THE TOURISM OFFICE
• Over 30 percent of Panama’s land is protected by 15 national parks, 5 forest preserves and 10 wildlife refuges.
• Over 1,518 islands are located within Panama’s territorial waters. (1,023 in the Caribbean and 495 in the Pacific).
• Over 500 rivers run through the country.
• More species of birds live in Panama than in all of North America and Canada combined.
• Panama is the ideal site to enjoy a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as over 10,000 species of plants, including 1,200 varieties of orchids, 678 species of ferns and 1,500 varieties of trees.
• Four areas in Panama have been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization).
• Panama has seven of the 12 zones necessary to sustain the land’s principal ecosystems.
• Panama includes areas that hold world records in the observation of different bird species as well as world record-holding fishing grounds.
• The famous red frog is found in the archipelago of the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park in the Bocas Del Toro Province.
• Panama’s coasts and islands are replete with protected coral reefs, which are home to a diversity of marine species and are excellent sites for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.
• The world’s first transoceanic railway was built between 1850 and 1855, and the trip from one shore to the other takes less than two hours.
• Up until 40 years ago, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world and when it was created, it flooded nearly 262 square kilometers of forest, villages and original railroad lines.
• The Panama Canal is one of the wonders of the modern world. It was completed by the government of the United States in 1920.
• It took 10 years to build the Panama Canal with a labor force of over 75,000 men and women at a cost of approximately $400 million dollars and it opened to maritime traffic on August 15, 1914.
• It was on Panamanian soil that Spain founded the first city of the New World on solid ground – Santa Maria la Antigua de Darien.
• Archeological excavations carried out by the Smithsonian Institute have found the remains of pottery and shells that demonstrate the existence of human settlements dating back to 300 years before Christ.
• Panama is the home of Central America’s largest convention center, ATLAPA.
• All the gold and silver from Peru and other countries in the Americas was transported to a town called Nombre de Dios (Name of God) in the Colon Province by way of the Camino Real and from there to Europe.
• Boquete is known as the “Valley of the Flowers”.
• Nestled in the western highlands of Panama, near the border to Costa Rica. Boquete shares some of the same mountain ranges with Costa Rica, as well as, some of the incredible wildlife and rain forests.
• There are hostels for $5 a night, and deluxe hotels for $300 a night.
• In Boquete you can hike for 1/2 a day, or all day, and still have a chance to see the Resplendent Quetzal, or a Howler Monkey in the wild.
•The Boquete Valley is rich with agriculture as well; strawberries, oranges, and coffee come from this region.
•The famous ‘geisha’ coffee, that was sold at auction, for $170 a pound, can be found growing on the rich Volcanic slopes.
•Adventure travel is a key reason that Boquete, a fairly small town, is growing in popularity for European, American and Asian travelers.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE COMING TO PANAMA
Be sure to consult a local embassy or your travel agent about entry requirements before traveling to Panama. We recommend contacting Panama Offshore Relocation, a trustworthy firm specialized in immigration, relocation, and assets protection.
A valid passport is needed to enter. The requirement for visas to enter Panama has been waived for many countries. It is best to check with a Panamanian consulate before traveling. A tourist card is sometimes needed to enter and can be bought at the airline counter or before entering immigration. If you are going to overstay your allotted time extend your visa or tourist card with immigration. A tourist can remain in Panama for 90 days, which can be extended to 90 additional days with the previous presentation of a return ticket and proof of economic solvency. If an extension is necessary, a formal request, with documents attached, should be presented to the National Immigration Bureau (Dirección Nacional de Migración). There is no need to obtain departure permits to leave the country, provided that the visitor complies with the terms of the tourist status. If a tourist exceeds the time allowance without a legal extension or justification, a fine will be charged according to the exceeded time.
Within Panama there are many local and well known international banks. The National Bank of Panama is the central bank for all of Panama. It processes all international checks, ATM debt cards, and official government funds. Banking hours are 8:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Saturdays.
All major credit cards are accepted throughout the country and in most of the tourist areas.
The official currency is the Balboa and is equivalent to one US dollar. Balboa (B/.1 = US$ 1) US dollar. US dollars are widely accepted everywhere in Panama.
The official language is Spanish which the national language is also while English is also widely spoken.
Panama is a democratically elected Republic and elections are held every five years.
Panama has a year-round wonderfully pleasant tropical climate and Temperatures vary from the mountains to the lowlands. Along the coasts and in the lowlands temperatures are usually hot (between 70°F and 90°F). The mountains, like Boquete, can get cool, especially in the evening (between 50°F and 64°F). The country has two seasons: Rainy and Dry. The Rainy lasts from May to December, and despite of the rainfall it is a rare day that the sun fails to show. During the Dry season, called “summer”, the nice Trade Winds constantly.
Bring light-weight clothing, A wide brimmed hat and sunglasses are important if you are hiking or at the coast. Dress for business is formal so bring your suit -lightweight if you have one.
In Boquete, jackets and sweaters are needed for the cold evenings. Bring closed shoes if hiking in this area.
Although the majority of Panamanians are Catholics, there is a complete freedom of worship for all religions. Some temples, churches and synagogues offer daily services.
January 1st New Year’s Day
January 9th Martyr’s Day
Floating Date Tuesday Carnival
Floating Date Good Friday
May 1st Labor Day
November 3rd Independence from Colombia
November 4th Flag Day
November 10th First Cry of Independence from Spain
November 28th Independence from Spain
December 8th Mother’s Day
December 25th Christmas Day
There are state health centers and hospitals in every province of the country. Panama City and David also boast a great number of private clinic and hospitals, all equipped with modern facilities. In Panama City, for example, there is Hospital Punta Pacífica affiliated to Johns Hopkins Medicine International, while in David there is Hospital Mae Lewis, and Hospital Chiriqui.
Panama is in the Eastern Time zone and does not observe daylight savings time.
A tip of 10% to 15% is common in Panama. Some restaurants include the tip in the bill so check with management before tipping.
Panama consists of three different landscape areas. The lowlands (below 2,300 ft.), make up over 85 percent of the country’s territory, the temperate lands (2,300 to 4,900ft.) and the highlands at elevations higher than 4,900 feet above sea level. There are more than 1,600 islands within the territorial area of Panama. Over 500 rivers run through the country and more than half of Panama is still forested.
Boquete is nestled in the slopes of a dormant volcano, the Baru Volcano, located some 14,00 feet above sea level. The mountain forms part of La Amistad International park jointly administered by Panama and Costa Rica. The park is situated on the Pacific-facing side of the Talamanca Mountain Range, and encompasses 14,000 hectares (34,600 acres) of rugged topography cloaked in primary and secondary rainforest. This rainforest provides a home to nearly 250 species of birds, the most notable of which is the resplendent quetzal, whose extraordinary beauty puts the bird in the number-one spot on many a bird-watching list.
Telecommunications are first-class and direct-dial service to anywhere in the world is available. Fax, telex, internet and other telecommunication services are available. The big players in telecommunications here are Movistar, Cable & Wireless, Claro, and Digicel. Hi-Speed Internet and Cable TV is provided also by Cable Onda.
Variable – either 110V or 220V – 60 hz.