Panama is a fascinating, diverse country that offers something for everyone. A trip to Panama is a real highlight and offers many memorable experiences and impressions.
Today there are only a handful of countries that are not swamped by travelers. Panama is one of them. This fact and especially the beauty of the country make it one of the last paradises on earth. Panama has over 30 nature reserves , gorgeous white sand beaches and hundreds of small islands. Approximately 50 of these islands are still inhabited by the indigenous Guna who still follow their traditions and impress with their beautifully decorated clothes and handicrafts (molas). In sharp contrast is the modern cosmopolitan capital Panama City and the famous Panama Canal. Add to that the pristine, beautiful cloudy forests of the mountainous region to the west and the almost untouched rainforest to the east, towards the Colombian border. The crossing of the infamous Darién is still one of the last great adventures.
The hospitable, warm people who maintain their heritage and customs with pride and celebrate lively festivals are amazed when tourists visit their villages and churches and marvel at other local attractions . Let yourself be inspired by the natural beauty and charm of Panama.
The People and Panama’s borders
Panama is almost twice the size of Switzerland and has about 3.5 million inhabitants.
Its population is clearly reflected in the history and geography . Around 60% of the population are Latin Americans, 13% are of African descent, 15% of European descent, about 8% are indigenous and the rest from other countries. Panama is bordered to the North by Costa Rica and to the South by Colombia.
The official language is Spanish. English is also widely spoken and understood due to the close ties and history with the U.S. and Europe. The indigenous tribes speak their own languages to this day.
The time difference between Europe and Panama is minus 7 hours during the European summer and
minus 6 hours during the European winter .
The official currency is the Balboa but the American dollar is used to make all payments. In most hotels and restaurants all major credit cards are accepted.
Panama is geographically and climatically a tropical country. There is a hot and humid climate in the lowlands, cooler and more spring-like temperatures in the western mountain region. Panama has a short dry season from December to April and a long rainy season from May through to November. Sunny days can be interuppted by heavy thunderstorms. This applies to both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Panama .
For entry into Panama, EU and Swiss nationals need a valid passport (minimum 6 months validity) and a return or onward ticket. When entering overland from Costa Rica it is additionally necessary to have a minimum of $ 500 cash or a credit card with a print-out to show you have at least $500 on your account.
Provinces of Panama
Panama is divided into 10 provinces. The Province of Panama is where the capital, Panama City, is located.
The capital was founded in 1519 by the Spaniard Pedrarias Dávila. Today the Old City or Casco Viejo is the historic core of Panama City which represents a mixture of styles, from the French and American style to Spanish colonial architecture, which gives the city its special character. One does not find this in other cities in Latin America with a colonial past.
Province of Chiriqui
Chiriqui Province is located in western Panama and is truly a land of contrasts.
It is home to an amazing variety of attractions such as endless white beaches, rainforest covered islands,
rivers for whitewater rafting and kayaking, over 3000m high mountains for hiking and climbing,
lush tropical forests, exotic flora and fauna.
Province of Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is in the northwest of Panama and consists of 9 major islands , 50 coral islands and about 200 tiny islets. This is a storybook paradise with stunning white sandy beaches, amazingly friendly people and the Caribbean flair. Bocas del Toro has something for everyone.
Province of San Blas
San Blas consists of 365 islands in the Caribbean Sea east of the Panama Canal, inhabited and managed autonomously by the indigenous tribe of the Guna. The dwellings are simple but clean and built in the typical island style with palm roofs. The tranquil island atmosphere and the tropical surroundings remind travellers of old times and will delight you immediately. The crystal clear water is ideal for swimming and snorkeling and seafood is found in abundance. A special highlight are the insights into the lives of the Guna Indians and their centuries-old customs and traditions.
The other Provinces of Panama are West-Panamá, Darién, Colón, Veraguas, Herrera, Los Santos and Coclé all of which are richly diverse in their geography, history and local customs where one can also have unforgettable experiences.