The Republic of Panama with an area of approximately 29,100 sq. miles (75,500 sq. km.), located between Costa Rica and Colombia, forms the narrowest and lowest portion of the Isthmus that links North and South America.
Shaped like an elongated letter "S", which extends west to east some 420 miles (676 km.), the country has a width that varies between 31 and 115 miles (50 and 185 km,) and has a coastline of 490 miles (788 km.) on the Atlantic Ocean and 870 miles (1,400 kin.) on the Pacific Ocean. The Canal, which joins the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, is about 50 miles (80 km.) long. Because of the lateral nature of its extension and its curved contour, directions are often surprising. A transit of the Canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic involves traveling not to the East but to the North-West; in Panama City the sun is seen to rise out of the Pacific.
History and Government
The Isthmus of Panama was discovered in 1501 by Rodrigo de Bastidas and Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who had a leading part in the establishment of Santa María La Antigua del Darién in 1510, the first permanent settlement on the mainland of the Americas. In 1513, Balboa led an expedition, in Panama, that discovered the Pacific Ocean.
Panama City was founded by Pedro Arias Dávila on August 15, 1519, almost a hundred years before Jamestown, first permanent English settlement in North America was founded. Panama was a Spanish colony until 1821 when it became part of the Gran Colombia of Simón Bolivar. In 1903, Panama broke its alliance with Colombia and became an independent republic.
The executive branch of the Government is at present composed of a President and two Vice-Presidents, democratically elected for a five year term by direct vote.
Population and Language
The population of Panama is approximately 3.5 million, about 52 percent of which is urban.
Spanish is the Official language of the country, but many of the people in Panama City and Colón speak English. Most businessmen, top government officials and executive staff are fully bilingual.
Standard Cost of Living
According to the most recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Panama City is the third least expensive city in the world. Here is a brief cost analysis of some very basic products and services in Panama:
- Public Transport- (Metro Bus) 25 cent (Taxi) $1.25 starting rate
- Gas per gallon- $4.10
- 1 liter of milk- $1.63
- Average Doctor Visit- $20-$40
- Local Beer- (can) 48 cent
- Average Movie Theater Ticket- $3.50
Attractions & Entertainment
From the antique Casco Viejo all the way to the pristine islands of San Blas, there are plenty of attractions to be seen and ways to be entertained throughout the entire country. Here are just a few that Panama City has to offer:
- A guided city tour on a towering Two-Decker Tour Bus, or an amphibious Aqua Bus, or even a Panama Trolley is a very practical way to hit many sites including the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, the city’s tallest skyscrapers or even Old Panama known locally as “Panama Viejo”
- The nightlife along Calle Uruguay offers modern nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and even hotels with social areas.
- The islands of the Amador Causeway offer everything from open-air activities like bike riding to yacht gazing and fine dining.
- Panama City is home to scores of delicious restaurants as proven by its top spot of several lists of the best in Latin American cuisine.
- Casinos are not in short supply and provide a viable way to spend a Saturday evening with friends for locals and tourists alike.
- The rainforest environment of Ancon Hill and Metropolitan Park offer wonderful slices of pristine nature within minutes of the city limits.