Our destinations: Panama

109 Facts about Panama (part 1)

Interesting facts about Panama  (part 1) 

Read more: Interesting facts about Panama  (part 2) 


1. Panama was the very first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

2. The cargo ship Ancon was the first vessel to transit the Canal on August 15, 1914

3. The Panama Hat is really made in Ecuador

4. In Panama, you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean in the same day.

5. The oldest continually operating railroad is in Panama. It travels from Panama City to Colon and back

6. Panama City is the only capital city that has a rain forest within the city limits

7. The highest point in Panama is the Volcan Baru - a dormant volcano that is 3,475 meters high

8. The town of El Valle de Antón is situated in a gigantic basin that was once the center of an active volcano. Geological surveys of the region suggest this volcano may have last erupted around 300,000 years ago – relatively recently in geological terms

9. The years between 1850 and 1900 were tumultuous for Panama: during this time there were 40 different administrations, 50 riots, five attempted secessions, and 13 interventions by the United States

10. Panama was the 1st country outside the USA to sell Coca-Cola. Coca Cola was first sold in Panama in 1906. Coke was available just in time to quench the thirst of the Americans working on the Canal

12. In the XVI century the pearl known as "The Pilgrim" was found in the Pearl Archipielago of Panama. This pearl was given to Don Pedro De Temez, the Spanish Crown administrator for Panama. The pearl then became part of the royal jewels of both the spanish and english crown, it eventually ended up in the hands of Elizabeth Taylor as a gift from her husband Richard Burton.

13. Panamanians most often greet each other with a kiss on the right cheek and slight hug

14. Panama has the second-largest duty-free zone in the world. Second only to Hong Kong, Panama has one of the largest duty-free zones in the world. Business within this Free Trade Zone surpasses $5 billion per year and serves more than 525 million consumers annually

15. Technically speaking, the Panama Canal connects the world.

16. An estimated 14,000 ships navigate through the Panama Canal every year, starting their voyage from more than 1,700 port towns, in over 160 countries the world over.

17. The waters of Panama are unmatched in their level of marine diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Coiba National Marine Park. The island of Coiba is the largest island in the park, as well as the largest island in all of Central America.

18. The total population of Panama is around 3.6 million with 1.5 million of those living in Panama City

19. Christopher Columbus visited Panama in 1502 and Balboa arrived to explore the area in 1513.

20. There are 986 recorded bird species in Panama. A number that surpasses the United States, which has 914 species.

21. As you can imagine, this makes Panama a popular destination for bird watchers from around the world

22. The Canal is one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken. Each of the canal’s locks are 7 feet thick, and more than 121 million cubic feet of concrete was used to create the canal’s locks and dams. The Canal is currently undergoing a major expansion project that will create thousands of jobs and facilitate even greater maritime trade in Panama

23. The 1st European-built city on the Pacific Ocean side of the American continent was built in Panama.

24. On August 15, 1516, Pedro Arias Davila founded the city of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Panama. It was the first European city built on the Pacific Ocean side of the American continent.

25. In 1913, the 1st Ocean-to-Ocean flight was over Panama. Robert G. Fowler signed a contract to fly his modified Gage biplane ocean-to-ocean across Panama. It was an extraordinarily dangerous flight, with no open areas available for emergency landings and treacherous winds.

26. Panama’s San Blas Archipelago, known as the San Blas Islands, are in the Atlantic Ocean. This archipelago consists of 365 islands and cays. If you love boats, this is the place for you.

27. The 1st Smithsonian Research Institution outside of the US was built in Panama and was founded in 1923 as the Barro Colorado Island Laboratory to study tropical biology. Although still based in Panama, today its researchers study biodiversity and human culture throughout the tropics.

28. The word “Panama” means “abundance of fish.” While some historians believe that Panama was an indigenous name for a particular tree, or an abundance of butterflies, the majority consensus is that it means “abundance of fish.” Panama was a thriving area for many indigenous tribes who settled there for the natural resources and protection.

29. Panama celebrates two independence days. The first was from Spain in 1821. The second took place 82 years later, celebrating Panama’s independence from Colombia in 1903.

30. The Panama Railroad is the most expensive rail network ever built: Costing more than $8 million and taking five years to complete, the Panama Railroad is the most expensive rail construction project in the world. At one point, this impressive infrastructural marvel traded at more than $295 per share on the New York Stock Exchange, and an estimated 12,000 workers died during the building of the railroad.

31. Since 2010, in fact, Panama’s economy has been Latin America’s second most competitive economy as one of its fastest growing and most well-managed economies.

32. There are two basic seasons in Panama: the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to November.

33. The Panama Canal generates fully one-third of Panama's entire economy

34. Tourism is growing in Panama. The Tocumen International Airport in Panama City is Central America’s largest and flights connect Panama to all parts of the world

35. The monetary units of Panama are the U. S. dollar and the Balboa. Panama has its own coinage.

36. The Panama Canal is one of the seven modern wonders of the world. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Canal between 1904 and 1914. The cargo ship, Ancon, was the first vessel to ever transit the Canal on August 15, 1914. Richard Halliburton swam across the Canal in 1928 for a toll price of 36 cents, the record lowest toll ever paid to cross the Canal

37. The peninsula of Casco Viejo is a busy colonial neighborhood with historical ruins and cobblestone streets. This is the site of the original 1519 Panama City, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

38. Panamanians’ national dishes include Ropa Viejo, which translates as “old clothes”. It is beef cooked in onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes, and served with rice

39. The spectacular Biomuseo is itself a work of modern art and houses exhibits that tell the story of how the Isthmus of Panama and its emergence affected the history of the world. It includes the Gallery of Biodiversity, the Panamarama, The Surge Bridge, The Grand Exchange, aquariums, galleries, observation posts and a cafe.

40. The earliest Panamanian artefacts (hunting tools and pottery) date back to around 2500 BC.

41. Ecotourism is popular and Panama is home to the most diverse wildlife population of all the countries in Central America. Bird watching is thrilling, with almost 1,000 bird species to observe from the tiniest Volcano Hummingbird to the Harpy Eagle, the largest bird on the continent. Over a third of Panama is Natural Park land.

42. The national bird of Panama is the Harpy Eagle

43. The Harpy Eagle, (Harpia harpyja), is one of the largest eagles in the world. It has a body lenght between 3 to 3.5 ft, a wingspan up to 6.5 feet, and weights between 9 and 20 pounds.

44. A sea level canal system was not feasible in Panama due to its nine-month long rainy season. It would have flooded out the canal.

45. Panama’s Buenaventura Golf Course is arguably the best in all of Latin America. This 18-hole par 72 course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and includes gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.

46. Skateboarding is popular with the local people and there are several skate parks in or near Panama City. The Coastal Strip 3 Skatepark and Skatepark Chorrera are open to the public while the Skatepark Punta Chamo is a private one in the Nitro City resort.

47. The Rod Carew Stadium is home to the national Panama Metro professional baseball club. There are eight other professional regional teams in Panama. Baseball is Panama’s national sport. More than 140 Panamanian players have played pro ball in the U.S, including Ron Carew and Carlos Ruiz.