Key Country Facts
Panama is called the “Crossroads of the Americas” because it is an isthmus, a strip of land connecting two larger areas, North America and South America. The Panama Canal is spectacular. It is 48-miles long and allows for transportation of both imports and exports. The main exports of the country are fruits and nuts, fish, iron and steel waste, as well as wood. The main imports are fuels, machinery, vehicles, iron and steel rods, and pharmaceuticals.
Casco Viejo, Panama Canal, Embarra Village
Visitors to the city should definitely stay in the Casco Viejo or Colonial City. The government has made it a priority to renovate these new styled terraced buildings when construction is complete in 2017-2018 it will be one of the region’s highlights. There are numerous shops, bars and restaurants overlooking the city skyline. Be sure to eat at the fish market, which isn’t far from Colonial City, where you can get a whole fried snapper with rice and plantains for $10. Take an evening stroll or jog down the Cinta Costera. If you start at the Hilton on Balboa you’ll be next to Calle Uruguay for all the night life you can handle.
Panama’s capital city is Panama City, and it’s hot and humid here most of the year. After seceding from its neighboring country Colombia, Panama was established in 1903. The official language is Spanish, but many Panamanians are bilingual speaking a variety of indigenous languages, including Panamanian English, Creole and English.
With both the Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean on either side, divers, rafters, and surfers alike are sure to enjoy Panama. When visiting Panama, one should definitely visit the capital, Panama City which is a center of arts, food, and fashion. Another great place to visit is the Coiba National Marine Park, which has some of the rarest species on land and in water.
Panama city is reminiscent of an improved blend between Rio and Miami. I use this term because that’s what Panama City continues to do: improve. Sophisticated high rises have been built on the old landfill and have replaced the drab buildings that used to line the coastal streets. The roads are wide and keeping the traffic moving. The old city is being rebuilt and the water treatment plant is treating the once foul stench that overcame the city at high tide. Panama City is a highly visitable city for 2-3 days or more. It’s safe compared to other Latin American capitals and it’s bustling with activity.
No visit to Panama City would be complete without a visit to the Canal. Many Vessels travel through the locks in the morning and late afternoon– it’s best to call ahead to make sure ships will be there when you visit. A tour not to be missed is to the Embarra Village where you will meet members of the Embera tribe. You’ll drive 1 hour beside the canal, then through the dense jungle where you’ll board a boat for a 30 min ride up the river to the village. The tribe’s medicine men will show you how they treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer, and other infirmities. You’ll learn how they live simply without electricity and the comforts of technology. The highlights of the town was the frank discussion I had with the chief about the challenges of technology closing in on them.