Panama owns a cultural diversity that makes it unique in the region. One of the biggest contributors to the richness of its culture is the constant presence of visitors from all parts of the world. The origin of this singular cultural mix is, without a doubt, the “crossroads” nature of the country. In addition, the intense connection Panama has with the sea makes it very similar to an island in the Caribbean. As a point of contact and a crossing site, this small strip of land is considered a true melting pot of races. With over 3 and a half million inhabitants, its population is composed of 67% mestizos (Amerindian and European) and mulatos (white and black), 14% blacks, 10% whites, 6% Amerindian (indigenous people) and 3% from varied ethnic origins. This mixture is particularly rich because, although it comes from a wide array of cultural origins and very diverse traditions, it has been stimulated by the atmosphere of tolerance and harmony that has always reigned in the territory. Although freedom of religion is respected, most of the population is Catholic and this religion is deeply bound to the traditions and cultural expressions of the country. In the interior of the country, for example, the greatest celebrations are related to several saints. One of these celebrations relating to cultural and catholic beliefs is the Carnavales of Panama. The Carnavales are a country-wide celebration during the four days preceding the Cuaresma. La Pollera is the name used in Latin America and Spain for a type of skirt and dress that is known for its elaborate decorations. The skirts are made of different materials, such as cotton or wool, and are often colorfully decorated using various techniques, among which embroidery and lacing with floral designs are commonly employed. It is believed that the pollera skirt is derived from a Spanish dress from the 16th or 17th century. It was passed down to women in the middle and lower classes as a simpler and easier version in which to carry out their daily chores or attend their regional celebrations. In many Latin American countries it is currently used as a folk costume. While in some countries the name refers to just the skirt part, in Panama the entire dress is called a pollera.
Panama Fun Facts
Panama contains the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic…from the same spot! At the country’s narrowest point, only 80 kilometers separates the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean.
Panama City, the nation’s capital and largest city, is the only capital city in the world that has a rain forest within its city limits.
The total population of Panama is around 3.6 million with 1.5 million of those living in Panama city.
The official language of Panama is Spanish, but English is widely spoken. More so in the urban vs. the rural areas.
Panama celebrates two independence days, the first from Spain in 1821 and the second from Colombia 82 years later in 1903.
Panama was the very first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
Major driver’s of Panama’s economy include cargo ships, the exportation of refined petroleum, and tourism.
The Panama Canal was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. It’s considered one of the seven modern World Wonders.
More than 12,000 people died in the construction of the Panama Railroad.
Panama is located south of the hurricane alley, so it is rarely affected by tropical storms or hurricanes.
Panama is home to 10,000 different plants species, including 1,400 varieties of orchids, 678 ferns, and more than 1,500 varieties of trees.
There are two basic seasons in Panama: the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to November.
Panama has more than 976 bird species, which is more than the United States and Canada combined.
All vessels going through Panama Canal have to pay a toll. The toll is based on the type of vessel, its size, and its cargo. The highest toll ever paid was $376,000 by the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship in 2010.
Panama grows some of the world’s finest coffee, which can be tasted at Starbucks and other coffee houses worldwide.
At 11,397 feet, the highest elevation in Panama is Volcán Barú, which is located near Boquete.
Panama has the second-largest duty-free zone in the world, the Colon Free Zone, second in size only to Hong Kong.
For a relatively small country, Panama boasts many miles of pristine beaches, with more than 1,500 miles (2,490 kilometers) of shoreline.
The Panamanian constitution gives foreigners and citizens the same right to own property.
The Panama Hat actually originated in Ecuador.
Senator John McCain was born in Panama, in the Canal Zone which was at that time considered U.S. Territory.
Panama has a 100% tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 80-90 degrees.
The currency in Panama is the Balboa which is pegged to the U.S. Dollar. You can freely use USD, however have smaller bills available since it might be difficult to get change. Avoid the black market. The best rates are offered at the larger banks. Old, creased and dirty foreign notes may be refused for exchange. DAILY COSTS BUDGET (up to) US$35
Dorm bed: US$13
Dine on comida corriente (set meals), visit markets and street stalls
Plan sightseeing via bus, DIY visits to beaches and waterfall hikes
MIDRANGE US$70– US$150
Double room at a midrange hotel: US$60–US$130
Some fine dining, activities (snorkel rental or surf lessons) and regional flights
TOP END (more than) US$150
Double room at a high-end hotel, resort or lodge: from US$130
Guided trips with bilingual naturalist guides
Internal flights and car rental
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/panama/money-costs#ixzz4ZlUPZtRv ATMs are readily available except in the most isolated places. Credit cards are widely accepted at restaurants and upscale hotels, but may be problematic elsewhere. TIPPING Restaurants Tipping should be 10%; check to see if it's included in the bill. Taxis Tipping is optional, and not expected but you can round up a dollar or two, especially at night. Guides It is customary to tip US$7 to US$10 per person for day tours; tip on the high end for naturalist guides. WEATHER
January in Panama corresponds with Pacific-side dry season, with little to no rain.
Panama City has a tropical climate, with temperatures staying constant all year round, ranging from 90°F (32°C) during the daytime to 70°F (21°C) in the evening. Humidity is generally high.
LANGUAGE Spanish is the official language in Panama, though English is widely spoken in the tourism industry, and many hotel owners are native English-speakers themselves. Panama's seven indigenous groups speak their own languages in their communities, and in some isolated areas indigenous groups do not speak Spanish fluently. RESTROOMS It's rare to find a public restroom in Panama -- you'll generally have to rely on hotel lobbies or restaurants. For the most part, they are clean, with modern septic systems. In some remote areas or beach locations, an outhouse-style restroom or a toilet that requires flushing with a bucket of water is more the norm. Restrooms are called baños, and are marked hombres or caballeros for men, and damas or mujeresfor women.