Early inhabitants of Panama were native tribes, including the Chibchan, Cuevas, and the Cocole. These tribes were mostly hunter-gatherers, who later cultivated crops including corn, cacao, and various root vegetables.
The arrival of the Spanish began in the early 1500s with multiple voyages. One of these voyages, led by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, caused the discovery that the narrow isthmus between the continents could provide the perfect trade stop for transport between Peru and Spain, for the land's connection to both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic via the Caribbean Sea.
The Spanish quickly colonized the region of Panama beginning in 1519, establishing Panama City and expanding, leading to battles with the Inca Empire. Panama became part of the Spanish Empire, which it remained for centuries until 1821. Other European nations had established settlements in the region, and Panama became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1713, which included modern-day Panama and Colombia. In 1819, New Granada became independent and Panama joined Gran Colombia. The region began to increase their separation from European power, and the US became involved. The US was involved in construction of the Panama Railway (the first transcontinental railroad in the world) and soon the Panama Canal. Panama gained independence from Colombia in 1903, and construction of the Panama Canal was completed in 1914.
Over its independent history, Panama has struggled with oligarchy and military coups, with many government overturns and civil unrest. The Panama Canal was signed back over to Panama in 1977 to officially be transferred in 1999.
Neighboring Countries :
Panama is situated between the North American continent and the South American continent, bordered by Costa Rica and Colombia, with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
Major Cities :
- Panama City (capital)
- Boca Chica
Panama is situated on the Isthmus of Panama between North and South America, and is part of Central America. Along its northern coast is the Caribbean Sea, while its southwestern coastline is along the Pacific Ocean.
Traversing the length of the country, the Cordillera Central mountain range divides the country, serving as the continental divide. The range includes the Cordillera de Talamanca, Serrania de Tabasara, and the Sierra de Veraguas. Standing 3,475 meters (11,401 feet) above sea level is the Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama. Volcan Baru is a dormant volcano, from which it is possible to see the oceans in both directions. The area between Panama and Colombia is called the Darien Gap, which is covered in jungles and harshly protected by Colombian guerrillas.
There are many rivers in Panama, including the Rio Chagres, Rio Chepo, and Rio Tuira. The Rio Chagres is straddled by the Gatun Dam, the construction of which led to the creation of the artificial Gatun Lake, a crucial part of the Panama Canal.
Points of Interest :
The Panama Canal is a major site of importance to many visitors to Panama, as it is renowned for its historical and engineering significance. The canal can also be experienced by boat and by train, or with a visit to one of the two museums about the canal. Casco Antiguo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its Spanish colonial architecture and other cultural influences, including art events like music and dance festivals.
There are many outdoor recreation spots in Panama, including national parks with hiking and wildlife, and coastal destinations for water recreation. The Quetzal Trail in Boquete is a famous hiking trail in which wildlife, particularly the Resplendent Quetzal can be seen. At Volcan Baru National Park, visitors can hike the nation's highest summit and see the views. On a clear day, it's possible to see the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The park is also a habitat for native wildlife, including the Volcano Junco (a type of sparrow) and the Black Guan (a bird that is classified as near threatened).
Panama's major airport is the Tocumen International Airport outside of Panama City, which offers international flights to destinations around the Americas. The roads into Panama from the north (Costa Rica) are another potential way to enter the country, either by bus or by car, on the highway. Panama is traversed by the Pan-American Highway, which runs from Alaska to Patagonia. However, Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia contains the only break in this roadway, as travelers are unable to pass through the gap. Ground travel will not be possible between Panama and Colombia. Boat is another option for transport into Panama, with cruise lines that travel the Panama Canal, and the Panama Canal Railway is another popular method of transport.
Around the country, there are cheap long-distance buses, car rental agencies, and plenty of taxis.
Last Updated : July 12, 2018