The Panama City is the capital of the country of Panama located on the Isthmus of Panama joining North and South America. It is the largest city of the country, a business hub, and a tourist destination. Panama City has grown rapidly into a major trade and banking center and one of the most cosmopolitan cities of Central America.
The original city was an Indian fishing village. On 15th August, 1519, Spanish conquistador and governor, Pedro Arias Davila established it as the seat from which expeditions were sent against the Inca Empire. This city was destroyed by the pirates and today this area is known as Panama Viejo. The new city, known as the Casca Viejo or Panama Nuevo was built in 1674 by Allonso Mercado de Villacorta. In 1903, when Panama became free from Columbia, Panama City became its capital. Today, it has an area of 275 sq km and contains an approximate population of 880,000 (2010).
The Panama City is located on the Pacific coast at the mouth of the Panama Canal. The construction of the canal and the accompanying American presence had benefited the city to a large extent. A highly diversified tropical forest lies on the other side of the city and since the presence of this forest is indispensible for the proper functioning of the city, it has been left in an almost pristine state. Two rivers – Rio Chepo and Rio Chagres flow through the city and yield considerable hydro electric power.
The city has a tropical wet-dry type of climate. It records an average daily maximum temperature of 30 degree centigrade. The wet season lasts from May to November while the dry season is from December to April.
How to reach (transport) :
Panama City is served by the Tocumen international airport which is located outside the city. Daily flights ply to a number of major destinations in North, Central and South America, and Europe. In addition, there is the Mercos A Gelabert airport within the city which is used for domestic flights. You can hire taxis or rent a cab though buses are plentiful in the city. You can also reach the city by train from Colon, though train service is infrequent and a little-used route.
When to visit :
The best time to visit Panama City is during February, March, September, and October as these are the least rainy months. Avoid public holidays as the city almost shuts down for these occasions and you may find yourself in a ghost town with closed shops and amenities. Thus, it is best to avoid early January, February, the Easter month, and November when a number of such holidays are celebrated.
Culture (Fairs and Festivals) and Traditions :
The population is a delightful mix of a number of ethnic groups from all over Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, and North America. As a result, the city is multicultural and colorful.
Several events and festivals are celebrated in the city. These are :
- In January (the actual date varies) the Jazz festival is celebrated in Panama City. It is one of the top jazz festivals where a number of artists of local and international repute perform in the Pier Park amphitheater near the Sandpiper Beacon.
- The most boisterous and colorful festival in Panama City is the Carnival, which has been celebrated since 1900. The carnival is held for four days leading up to the Ash Wednesday. The entire city shuts down and parties. The major avenue, Cinta Costera is shut down for the main parade and thousand of partygoers come out in the streets. On Sunday, women wear the national dress called Pollera and take part in a parade in this avenue. The Carnival Queen is selected on the first day and she presides over the festivities. Decorated floats also take part in another parade. Music and dancing is held throughout the carnival.
Panama City is rich in historical and archaeological sites. Here are some places which you must see :
- The Panama Canal is one of the most important sights in the city. The visitors’ center, the museum and information center should not be missed. You can obtain a breathtaking view of the canal from the platform on the Miraflores Lock.
- The ruins of the original Spanish city or Panama Viejo is another archaeological site.
- The Casca Viejo is the historic district of the city and one of its best attractions. It includes several buildings like the Municipal palace, the Presidential palace, the InterOceanic canal museum, the cathedral on the Piazza de la cathedral and many others.
- The Ancon hill, which you can hike up, for a magnificent view of the city. Similarly, stroll along the Amador Causeway to get a stunning view of the Panama City and the Bridge of the Americas.
You can enjoy a great holiday in Panama City while you relax in the luxury hotels in the city. You get a wide choice of accommodation in the city. The highest category of hotels includes the Bristol Panama and Hotel Roma Plaza. The Toscana Hill hotel, Country Inn and Suites by Carlson Panama Canal, and Hotel Costa Inn are moderate hotels, while hotels Acapulco, La Casa de Carmen, and Baru Lodge are some of the best budget accommodations in Panama City.
Last Updated : October 24, 2013