Situated between Colombia and Costa Rica, Panama is recognized for the famous Panama Canal which connects the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea, and subsequently reshaped global ocean transport. Panama covers about 75,517 square kilometers with a total coast line of 2,490 kilometers that borders the Pacific and Caribbean Ocean. The little country is home to 3.4 million people, approximately 700,000 of them live in the capital, Panama City.
The population of Panama is mostly made up of mestizos – meaning a mixture of indigenous people with Chinese, West Indian, European, Spanish, etc. ancestry. Throughout Panama’s history, Middle Eastern, Swiss and North American people immigrated here, leaving behind their cultural traces, visible nowadays through the local traditions, ethnicities, architecture, etc. Indigenous communities make up 8% of the whole population and consist of seven different groups. About 85% of the population is Roman Catholic, while the other 15% is Protestant. In regions that are populated by indigenous people, they practice their own religions as well.
Panama is divided into nine provinces (Bocas del Toro, Coclé, Colón, Chiriquí, Darién, Herrera, Los Santos, Panamá and Veraguas) and five indigenous regions (Kuna Yala, Emberá Wounan, Kuna de Madungandí, Kuna de Wargandí and Gnobe Buglé). Each province has its own cultural traditions of music, dance, dress, and cuisine. Panama has one homogeneous language that all people speak; Spanish. However, you will find that many of the people speak English as well in order to facilitate the tourism industry, as this is one of Panama’s main sources of income.
Panama has a tropical climate that varies depending on the region and altitude but consists of two seasons: a dry and a rainy season. On the Caribbean Coast, it can rain sporadically all year long while on the Pacific Coast the climate is drier. The Azuero Peninsula is extremely dry year-round, whereas in the mountains it rains very often during the rainy season. The rainy season runs from May to November, while the dry season is from December to April, and March and April being the hottest months of the year. The altitude drastically influences the temperature in different sectors of the country. Temperatures on the coast reach about 35° C (95° F) and then gradually decrease every 150 meters above sea level. The best time to travel to Panama is during the dry season from mid-December to mid-April; however, during the rainy season, there are fewer tourists and it is cheaper to travel.
Thousands of tourists come yearly to Panama to witness the diversity of animal and flower species. The country is home to approximately 9,000 different plant species as well as the abundance of animals like the coati, peccary, tapir, many different species of monkeys, and reptiles, such as alligators, that live along the coast. Throughout the country there are many national parks which preserve the beautiful flora and fauna. Panama is the perfect place to explore the protected wildlife.