This is one of the few places in the world where you can see culture and nature practically undisturbed by globalization and development. Panama is one cultural and adventure destination. It is one of the few places that really support immersion into its indigenous communities to discover what life is like for them, without just getting all the glitz and glamour. There are also several sites to explore, like ruins, old Spanish forts, and a magnificently rich wilderness that is just ready for exploration. From tropical rainforests to roaring waterfalls to a relaxing Caribbean coast, Panama has truly been blessed with many natural wonders.
Panama – Important and interesting Facts
- Ships traveling between New York and San Francisco save 7,872 miles by using the Panama Canal instead of going around Cape Horn. The Panama Canal is a 77.1-kilometre ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade.
- Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic. It’s strategic location at eastern end of Central America; controls Panama Canal that links Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with Pacific Ocean. Central Panama has the unusual distinction of having the sun rise over the Pacific and set over the Atlantic
- Famous Panamanian athletes include the former world light and welter-weight boxing champion Roberto Durán and the former baseball star Rod (Rodney) Carew. Roberto Durán Samaniego is a retired Panamanian professional boxer, widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. A versatile brawler in the ring, he was nicknamed “Manos de Piedra” during his career. And, Rod (Rodney) Carew is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman, second baseman and coach of Panamanian descent. He played from 1967 to 1985 for the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels and was elected to the All-Star game every season except his last.
- One of the more common facts about the country is that it has set multi-world records in the area of bird watching and fishing, as it shelters more birds than United States and Canada combined. Panama also has the most diversified wildlife of all the countries in Central America. It is home to north as well as South American species.
- Boquete is one of the best destinations for retirees as per Modern Maturity magazine. Boquete is a small town on the Caldera River, in the green mountain highlands of Panama, in western-most Chiriquí Province, about 60 kilometres from the border with Costa Rica Basically, there are many real estate buyers and investors in Panama that are retirees. They enjoy the affordability and tax incentives in Panama for real estate.
- The Panama Railroad was the most expensive railroad ever built, as it cost 8 million dollars and took 5 years to build. More than 12000 people died in the construction of the railroad. At one point of time, the shares of the railroad were the highest priced stock on the New YorkStock Exchange, at $295 per share.
- Every October 21, pilgrims from all over Panama arrive in Portobelo to partake in the Festival de Cristo Negro (Black Christ Festival), which honors the 1.5m-high statue of the Black Christ housed in the Iglesia de San Félipe. The exact origins of the Black Christ statue are a matter of speculation, especially since all definitive church records were lost in the fire that followed Henry Morgan’s sacking of Panamá in 1671.
- Panamá Viejo is located on the outskirts of the modern city. The name is used for the remains of the first Spanish city founded by Pedro Arias de Avila on 15 August 1519. It was the starting point of the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru (1532). It also was a stopover point of one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent leading to the famous fairs of Nombre de Dios (God’s Name) and Portobelo where most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas passed through
- Nata, in the Province of Coclé, is one of the oldest colonial cities and with the oldest church on the American Continent. Natá is a small city on the Pan-American Highway in the Coclé province of Panama. The closest larger city is Penonomé. The city of Aguadulce is about 10 kilometers away. Panama City is 176 kilometers from Natá.
- Panama’s Isla de Coiba served as a penal colony for 85 years, housing some of the country’s most dangerous criminals; it was comparable to Alcatraz. After the prison was phased out, the island (along with 38 other islands and the surrounding waters) became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, the island remains mostly in an unspoiled natural state.
Panama – Cool, Fun, and Funny Facts
- One of the greatest manmade structures ever built in Central America is the Panama Canal. It is now considered one of the world’s 7 modern wonders. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal symbolized U.S. technological prowess and economic power. Although U.S. control of the canal eventually became an irritant to U.S.-Panamanian relations, at the time it was heralded as a major foreign policy achievement.
- Panama is in a unique position in Central America. From one side of panama you are on the Atlantic Ocean and you can watch the sunrise. Then with just a couple of hour’s trip to the Pacific you can watch the sun set.
- Panama had a railroad in the New York stock exchange used to be the highest option per share of any industry in the world at 295 dollars. The Panama Canal Railway is a railway line that runs parallel to the Panama Canal, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in Central America. The route stretches 47.6 miles (76.6 km) across the Isthmus of Panama from Colón (Atlantic) to Balboa (Pacific, near Panama City). It is operated by Panama Canal Railway Company (reporting mark: PCRC), which is jointly owned by Kansas City Southern and Mi-Jack Products. The Panama Canal Railway currently provides both freight and passenger service.
- Panama is one of the only locations in all of Central America with the richest and most historical cathedrals are located. Many bishops came to help with the construction of the first cathedrals in Central America and were there to advise the construction
- Darién Gap, from Panama City to Colombia, has about 12 million acres of rain forest, yet few Panamanians or tourists ever visit the area, which is only accessible by boat. This remote nature preserve is threatened by development and the proposed extension of the Pan-American Highway through this region.
- Most Panamanians are descended from indigenous, or native, people, Europeans, Afro-Caribbeans, and immigrants from all over the world. The three largest indigenous groups in Panama are the Kunas, Emberás, and Ngöbe-Buglés and they still live in the remote areas of the country. They have their own dialects and customs and most of them also speak Spanish.
- The national traditional dress for women is a long, full white cotton dress decorated with colorful embroidery called a pollera. Men wear a traditional montuno, which is a white cotton shirt with embroidery and short pants.
- Panama is home to many unique animals that are found only in Panama. The mysterious golden frogs have gleaming, shimmering skin and are thought to bring people good luck. The numbers of golden frogs is declining and so are the numbers of sea turtles.
- The national flower is a white orchid called the Flor del Espiritu Santo, or Flower of the Holy Spirit. There are over 1,400 tree species, including the square tree, which has a square shaped trunk and is found in the mountains west of Panama City.
- Family is very important in Panama. Children attend school from ages 7 to 15. Most of Panama’s national holidays are religious occasions. Panamanians eat rice with most of their meals. They also eat corn tortillas with meat and vegetables.
Panama – History and Cultural Facts
- In June 1979 the U.S. Navy hydrofoil Pegasus made the fastest transit ever when it crossed the Panama Canal in record time of 2 hours and 41 minutes. The Pegasus-class hydrofoils were a series of fast attack patrol boats employed by the U.S. Navy. They were in service from 1977 through 1993. These hydrofoils carried the designation “PHM” for “Patrol, Hydrofoil, Missile.”
- Dictator Manuel Noriega was deposed in 1989. Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno is a former Panamanian politician and soldier. He was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989.
- Since 1914 due to accidents and health problems, 5609 workers loss their life, constructing the Canal. 80% of them were Black and 350 were white Americans. The French first attempted construction, but were met with the cost and difficulty of building a canal in the rain-soaked tropics through unstable mountains that exceeded expectations, brought human health risks and accidents due to a poorly trained and inexperienced workforce.
- On August 23, 1928 Richard Halliburton transit the Canal swimming. Richard Halliburton was an American traveler, adventurer, and author. Best known today for having swum the length of the Panama Canal and paying the lowest toll in its history—36 cents—Halliburton was headline news for most of his brief career.
- In 1997, the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Sea establishes a toll record when it paid 153,662.66 to cross the water-way. Rhapsody of the Seas is a Vision-class cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International. Onboard amenities include a full-service spa, two swimming pools, six bars, a rock-climbing wall, several dining options, and a Starbucks coffee shop which also contains a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream parlor.
- The Panama Canal in 1974 raises the toll rates for the first time since they were not breaking even. Excavation of the Canal was equal to digging a 10 feet trench deep by 55 wide from California to New York.
- Panama has had a mainly a male dominated political system since its independence that all changed when in 1999 Panama named its first woman president, Mireya Moscoso. Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez de Arias was Panama’s first female president, serving from 1999 to 2004.
- The cargo ship Ancon was the first vessel to transit the Canal on August 15, 1914. SS Ancon was an American steamship that became the first ship to officially transit the Panama Canal in 1914. The steamer began life as the SS Shawmut, built for the Boston Steamship Line in 1902. About 1910 she was purchased by the Panama Railroad Company to provide shipping required for the construction of the Panama Canal. The name was changed to Ancon after Ancon Hill and Ancon Township in Panama, home to the head of the Canal Commission.
- Founded in 1519 by the conquistador Pedrarías Dávila, Panamá Viejo is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was laid out on a rectilinear grid and marks the transference from Europe of the idea of a planned town. Abandoned in the mid-17th century, it was replaced by a ‘new town’ (the ‘Historic District’), which has also preserved its original street plan, its architecture and an unusual mixture of Spanish, French and early American styles. The Salón Bolívar was the venue for the unsuccessful attempt made by El Libertador in 1826 to establish a multinational continental congress.
- The Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Cathedral of Our Lady of Asunción), built between 1619 and 1626, is the best-preserved building of the ruins. In traditional fashion, it was designed so that its two side chapels gave the cathedral a cross-like shape as viewed from the heavens. The bell tower was at the back of the church and may have served double duty as a watchtower for the Casas Reales. The main facade, which faced the Plaza Mayor (Grand Plaza), is gone – only the walls remain. Also facing the Plaza Mayor was the Cabildo de la Ciudad (City Hall) and the Casas de Terrín, houses built by one of the city’s wealthiest citizens, Francisco Terrín.