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30 Interesting Facts About Panama

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There are so many fascinating facts about Panama! Whether you are considering a visit to this spectacular country or you simply want to learn more, you have come to the right place. Are you ready to learn more about Panama? Read on…

Interesting Facts About Panama

Panama is a tropical paradise that holds a myriad of surprises waiting to be discovered. But the country is more than just a land of breathtaking natural beauty. It is a melting pot of cultures and traditions that have accumulated over the centuries.

As you embark on this journey with me, let’s explore 30 interesting facts about Panama! 

1. The Panama Canal is an Engineering Marvel

30 Interesting Facts About Panama

Here is one of the most interesting facts about Panama! The country is responsible for handling and taking care of the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal is a truly remarkable feat of engineering that connects two vast oceans, the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. It has revolutionised global trade, enabling ships to travel easily between the two oceans.  

Due to the various difficulties involved in constructing the Panama Canal, it took a whopping 10 years to complete.

2. Panama’s Unique Sunrise and Sunset Experience

One of the remarkable and interesting facts about Panama is its geographical position which allows for a rare and awe-inspiring experience. You can witness the sun rise and set over two different oceans. 

You get the rare opportunity to see the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean and set over the Atlantic Ocean. 

3. The Currency of Panama is Balboa and the U.S. Dollar

When it comes to interesting currency-related facts about Panama, you’ll find a unique arrangement that combines the use of both the Balboa and the U.S. dollar. 

The official currency of Panama is the Balboa, named after the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. 

However, in practical terms, the U.S. dollar is the dominant currency used for everyday transactions.

The history behind this currency arrangement dates back to the early 20th century when Panama adopted the U.S. dollar as its official currency. 

The Balboa, though still in circulation, exists mainly in the form of coins, while paper currency is denominated in U.S. dollars.

While the U.S. dollar is widely accepted throughout Panama, you should carry smaller denominations as larger notes aren’t always readily accepted, especially in smaller establishments or rural areas.

4. Panama’s Remarkable Bird Biodiversity

30 Interesting Facts About Panama

Panama is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, known for its incredible variety of bird species. With over 970 recorded species, it’s one of the most bird-rich countries in the region.

From toucans and macaws with their vibrant feathers to quetzals and hummingbirds with their graceful beauty, the diversity of bird life in Panama is truly astonishing.

Among the iconic birds of Panama is the Harpy Eagle, considered one of the largest and most powerful raptors in the world. Spotting this majestic bird in its natural habitat is a true bucket-list experience for birdwatchers!

One of the greatest and most interesting facts about Panama is that its commitment to conservation has also played a crucial role in preserving its avian treasures. 

Panama has several national parks and protected areas that provide a home for birds and other wildlife.

5. The Darien Gap Is The Only Break in the Pan-American Highway

The Darien Gap is another one of the interesting facts about Panama! 

The Darien Gap presents a unique challenge for travellers and adventurers. This dense and treacherous jungle is the only break in the Pan-American Highway, making it impossible to drive from North to South America without detouring around it.

The Darien Gap is known as a wild and untamed place. The thick forests, swampy areas, and lack of roads make it hard to cross. It’s a rough and unexplored region that’s not easy to navigate.

6. Panama’s Vast Plant and Tree Species

For plant lovers, here are some interesting facts about Panama!

Panama is a paradise for plant and tree lovers, with an incredible variety of over 10,000 recorded plant species. 

The country’s lush rainforests are home to more than 1,500 different tree species, from towering giants to delicate understory plants. 

Orchid enthusiasts will be thrilled to discover that Panama is known as the “Orchid Capital of the World,” with over 1,500 orchid species. 

7. Cultural Diversity in Panama 

Cultural diversity is one of the most inspiring and interesting facts about Panama. 

Panama is a vibrant tapestry of cultural diversity, shaped by a blend of indigenous traditions, Spanish heritage, Afro-Caribbean influences, and the contributions of diverse immigrant communities. The country’s rich cultural mosaic creates a unique and captivating experience for visitors.

Spanish colonial influences are evident in Panama’s architecture, cuisine, and language. 

For instance, the beautifully preserved Casco Viejo district in Panama City showcases colonial-era buildings, while traditional Panamanian dishes like sancocho and arroz con pollo reflect the fusion of Spanish and indigenous flavours.

The Afro-Caribbean communities, descendants of West Indian labourers brought to Panama during the construction of the canal, contribute their unique customs, music, and dance. 

8. The Panama Hat is a Misnomer

The Panama Hat is one of the fascinating and interesting facts about Panama, and primarily Ecuador

Contrary to its name, the Panama Hat originates from Ecuador, not Panama. However, Panama played a significant role in the hat’s history and international recognition.

The lightweight and finely woven straw hats gained popularity during the 19th century when they were worn by workers during the construction of the Panama Canal. 

Visitors and traders passing through Panama were introduced to these stylish hats and mistakenly associated them with the country.

The misnomer “Panama Hat” stuck, and the hats gained worldwide recognition. They became a fashion statement and were popularised by celebrities, including presidents, actors, and artists. 

However, Ecuador is recognised as the true birthplace of the Panama Hat!

9. Panama is a Surfing Paradise

30 Interesting Facts About Panama

These interesting facts about Panama are for sports, especially surfing lovers! 

Panama is a surfing paradise, with world-class waves that draw surfers from all over. 

From the powerful breaks of Bocas del Toro to the legendary spots of Santa Catalina and Playa Venao, Panama offers diverse surf experiences. Its warm waters, consistent swells, and uncrowded beaches make it a dream for surfers. 

10. Panama Has The Enchanting San Blas Islands

The San Blas Islands are a hidden gem for those who want a pristine and tropical escape. 

Trust me, it is a place where time seems to stand still, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature, and embrace simplicity! 

11. The Welcoming Guna Yala People

These interesting facts about Panama’s Guna Yala people shouldn’t be missed.

The Guna Yala people of Panama hold a rich cultural heritage and a deep connection to their ancestral lands. Their traditional leadership structure, vibrant textile art known as Molas, and sustainable practices showcase their unique identity. 

When visiting a Guna Yala village, you’ll be humbled by their warmth and hospitality, experiencing their traditional dances, stories, and delicious food. 

12. Carnaval is Panama’s Colourful Celebration

These interesting facts about Panama and its culture are definitely worth discussing! 

Carnaval is a vibrant and eagerly awaited celebration filled with music, dance, and a burst of colours. 

The streets come alive with parades, costumes, and lively beats. The people of Panama proudly wear traditional dresses called polleras, adorned with beautiful embroidery and vibrant patterns. 

The festivities are accompanied by the pulsating rhythms of salsa, merengue, and reggae, inviting everyone to dance. 

13. Panama is a Blend Between Traditional and Modern Architecture

The contrast between the historic Casco Viejo district and the skyscrapers of the modern city skyline is shocking! 

Casco Viejo, with its narrow streets and colonial architecture, takes you back in time to the city’s colonial past, while the towering buildings of the financial district showcase Panama’s development and economic growth.

14. Panama Has an Abundance of Rainforests

30 Interesting Facts About Panama

Panama is blessed with an abundance of beautiful rainforests. The largest one is the Darién rainforest as it is spread across an area of 6,000 square kilometres.

They are home to an incredible diversity of plant and animal species, including colourful birds, exotic orchids, and mammals like sloths and jaguars. 

15. Bocas del Toro is Caribbean Paradise in Panama

Bocas del Toro, with its pretty beaches and turquoise waters, is like stepping into a Caribbean paradise. 

The beaches have several tropical fish species, sea turtles, and many more. 

The island also has a laid-back vibe with friendly locals and mouthwatering seafood!

16. Volcan Baru is Panama’s Tallest Peak

These are some interesting facts about Panama for hikers!

Volcan Baru proudly stands as Panama’s tallest peak (3,474 metres or 11,398 feet), offering stunning views from its summit. 

The hike to the top is challenging, but you’ll get splendid views of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea!

17. Traditions of the Embera Community

Let’s talk about some interesting facts about Panama’s Embera Community! 

The Embera community is not only dedicated to preserving their rich traditions and cultural heritage but also to sharing their traditional knowledge with others. 

They have an extensive knowledge of medicinal plants, sustainable farming techniques, and intricate craftsmanship.

18. Panama Has More than 1,500 Islands!

Are you an island lover? If so, you need to know these interesting facts about Panama!

Panama has over 1,500 islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The San Blas Islands, an archipelago, consisting of 378 islands is one of the most famous island areas. However, only 49 islands here are inhabited.

19. Panama’s Unique Mola Artwork

The unique Mola artwork is yet another example of the country’s rich cultural heritage. 

Each mola is a masterpiece of delicate stitching, depicting scenes from daily life, nature, and ancient legends. 

20. Pearl Islands Are an Archipelago in Panama

30 Interesting Facts About Panama

The Pearl Islands are another archipelago situated in the Gulf of Panama. The archipelago also became popular after it was featured in a reality TV show named “Survivor.”

21. Panama Has the Historic Casco Viejo District

Stepping into the historic Casco Viejo district of Panama is like stepping back in time. 

The well-preserved colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming plazas are a testament to Panama’s rich history. Here you can explore the architectural beauty and cultural significance of this UNESCO World Heritage site. 

22. The Pan-American Highway Extends for Thousands of Miles

The Pan-American Highway, stretching across the whole of America, is an impressive road network connecting various countries. 

Although the Pan-American Highway extends for thousands of miles, the absence of a direct road link through the Darien Gap in Panama showcases the untamed nature of its rainforests!

23. Panama Has Exquisite Orchids

One of the interesting facts about Panama is that it is renowned for its vast array of exquisite orchids, boasting one of the richest orchid diversities in the world. 

With over 1,500 documented species, the country is no less than a paradise for orchid enthusiasts and botanists. 

These captivating flowers can be found thriving in various habitats throughout Panama, including its lush rainforests, cloud forests, and even within urban areas.

24. Panama’s Pre-Columbian History

Panama has a rich history before the arrival of Europeans. 

It has beautiful sites like Panama Viejo and El Caño that offer a glimpse into the lives of ancient civilizations through artefacts and ruins. 

25. The Narrowest Path of Panama is Only 30 Miles Wide

Panama is known for its narrow geography, with the narrowest part of the country measuring just 30 miles in width. 

This narrow stretch lies between the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Caribbean Sea to the north. It is an astonishing fact that you can easily travel from one coast to the other in such a short distance. 

26. Gulf of Chiriqui is a Hidden Gem for Panama’s Marine Life

The interesting facts about Panama are unending! 

The Gulf of Chiriqui, found along Panama’s Pacific coast, is a hidden gem for those who love marine life. 

You can see fascinating sights of colourful coral reefs, tropical fish, and playful dolphins. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of majestic humpback whales. 

27. Panama Has the Breathtaking Anton Valley

The Anton Valley is a beautiful place tucked inside an old volcano. It’s a picture-perfect spot with lots of greenery, stunning waterfalls, and warm springs. 

One thing that makes it really unique are the square-shaped trees called “El Valle de Anton Square Trees.” It’s a peaceful and relaxing retreat where you can connect with nature and soak in the tranquillity of this breathtaking destination.

28. Barro Colorado Island: A Haven for Scientific Research

Barro Colorado Island is a world-renowned hub for scientific research. 

It is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute which hosts numerous scientists studying tropical ecosystems. 

The island’s diverse flora and fauna, including howler monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds, make it an invaluable site for ecological research.

29. Panama Cuisine is a Blend of Flavours

For every foodie reading this, don’t miss these cuisine-related interesting facts about Panama!

Panama’s gastronomy is a tantalising blend of flavours influenced by Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, Indigenous, and international cuisines. 

Seafood plays a prominent role in Panama’s cuisine, given its proximity to the ocean. You can find fresh fish and shellfish in almost every dish.

Panama’s street food scene is also an adventure in itself. From the famous empanadas to the irresistible raspados, the streets of Panama offer a plethora of flavorful bites!

Moreover, Panama’s diverse cultural heritage extends to its beverages. 

The country has refreshing fruit juices made from local tropical fruits like guava, pineapple, and passion fruit. You should try the traditional sugarcane-based spirit called seco herrerano.

30. Embera Wounaan Community is Excellent at Basketry

The Embera Wounaan community in Panama is known for its amazing skill in basketry. The people from the community create beautiful baskets with intricate designs using natural materials like palm fibres and plant-based dyes. 

The locals have been passing down their techniques from one generation to another, keeping their ancestral art alive. 

Further Reading – Interesting Facts About Panama 

Panama is a country that charms you with its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and remarkable landmarks. From the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal to the diverse ecosystems, Panama offers a fascinating and unforgettable experience for travellers. 

So, I hope that you enjoyed these interesting facts about Panama and add them to your list of must-visit places!

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