Panama was home to many indigenous tribes including the Guaymí, Kuna, and Chocó prior to the arrival of Spanish colonists in the 16th century. As the first Spanish colony on the Pacific, Panama was known as “the door to the seas and key to the universe.” Panama became a critical strategic place for Spain. In the 1530s, Panama served as the station where the Spanish assembled for their conquest of the Inca empire. Up until the 19th century, Panama also served as the major transshipment point for gold and silver being sent to Spain. Panama broke away from Spain in 1801 and eventually became part of the Republic of Colombia. In 1903, Panama seceded from Colombia, which led to the construction of the Panama Canal.


The official language of Panama is Spanish and is spoken by the majority of people there. In addition to speaking Spanish, all of Panama’s indigenous groups also preserve their native tongue. Many Panamamians from West Indian backgrounds also speak English, which is often taught in schools.

Phrases in Panama:

  • Chopear To shop
  • El guy The man
  • Chingongo Chewing gum
  • Fren Friend
  • Está salado To have bad luck
  • Buen provecho Enjoy your meal
  • Dale pues Do it, good, okay
  • Buco A lot
  • Offi Okay, sure
  • Plena Panamanian reggaeton music
  • ¿Qué xopá? What’s up?



Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is by far Panama’s most famous attraction. This canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is a major global shipping hub. Here you can come to watch one of the world’s greatest engineering accomplishments and see the massive ships glide into the locks. You can also take a boat tour through the canal to gain first-hand experience. If you prefer to watch from a distance, the Miraflores Locks offers a great view of the canal from the five-story visitor center.


Beaches of Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is a collection of tropical islands on the Caribbean near the border with Costa Rica. This spot is known for its soft-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere, this is the place for you. Some of the activities in Bocas del Toro include surfing, swimming, diving, or just taking in the views while laying on the beach.


Volcan Baru National Park

The Volcan Baru National Park is home to the highest point in Panama: the Baru Volcano. It is the 12th highest peak in Central America and the only place in the world where you can see the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the same time. The park offers a variety of hiking trails, ranging from those for very experienced hikers to shorter and more accessible trails. For the serious hikers, you can even arrange to make the journey all the way to the top of the volcano.


Casco Viejo, Panama City

If you are looking for more historical scenery, the narrow streets of Casco Viejo, also known as the Old Town of Panama City, are the place to be. There you can take a stroll to see colorful buildings, historic ruins, and views of the bay towards the high rises of modern Panama City. Casco Viejo is also the perfect place to enjoy an evening dinner. As it gets dark, the buildings and ruins are all lit up and restaurants set up tables and chairs on the walkways.

Fun Facts

  1. Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Panama was the first country outside the U.S. to sell Coca Cola.
  3. Panama was the first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
  4. The first European City on the Pacific side of the Americas was built in Panama.
  5. The first Afro descendant to be part of European royalty, Angela Brown, is Panamanian.
  6. A stamp helped US Senators decide to build the canal in Panama instead of Nicaragua.
  7. Panama has more bird species than the entire continental U.S.
  8. Senator John McCain was born in Panama.
  9. Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina.
  10. The first ocean-to-ocean flight was done over Panama in 1913.

Travel Guidelines

  • COVID-19
  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (TDAP)
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
  • Shingles
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever
  • Malaria