Panama Travel Guide

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Panama Information

Population: 3 042 800

Time Zone: GMT - 5

Driving side: Drivers drive on the right hand side of the road.

Languages: English, Spanish, Castilian

Religion: 85% Catholic
10% Protestant
1% Islam & Jewish

Emergency #: All Emergencies: 911
Police: 104
Ambulance: 269-9778
Fire Brigade: 103

Panama Popular Destinations

Panama City - This modern, thriving commerical centre of Panama runs along the Pacific coast from the ruins of Panama Viejo in the east to Panama Canal in the west.The colonial part, Casco Antiguo ( or San Felipe or Casco Viejo) juts into the sea with its decaying colonial grandeur, striking architecture, peeling paint and decrepit balconies. Some attractions in the city include a 17th Century church, the history museum of Panama and the sea wall, built by the Spainards four centuries ago.

Boquete - This small Alpine town is known for its cool, fresh climate & pristine natural enviroment.Outdoor lovers will enjoy this town for its walks, bird-watching, horseriding and enjoying the cool after the lowlands heat. Flowers, coffee and citrus fruits are grown here and it is a good base to climb the 3475m Volcan Baru.

Isla Toboga - Just 20 km south of Panama City, this island has an attractive beach, lovely protected rain forest and is home to one of the largest colonies of brown pelicans in Latin America.It is also known as the Island of Flowers from the many aromatic blooms at certain times of the year.The small church on the island is claimed to be the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

Panama Canal - An engineering marvel and one of the most significant waterways in the world. It stretches 80km from Panama City on the Pacific coast to Colon on the Atlantic side and carries over 14000 vessels a year.Boat tours are offered as well as a museum with a model and film of the Canal.

Moving Around Panama

The main point of entry is the international airport in Panama City. From here you can connect with many destinations in North and South America. There are a number of domestic airlines and a good domestic flight network, and local airlines offer fairly affordable flights to destinations within panama and the nearby islands. Be sure to retain $20 for the obligatory departure tax fee. From Panama City, the bus system is inexpensive and goes to all accessible parts in and outside of Panama. Boats are the principal mode of transport in various parts of Panama and the hiring of a local boatman is always the safest and best option.

National festival and holidays

Carnaval - This is celebrated over the four days preceeding Ash Wednesday.It is a very festive holiday involving music, dancing and a big parade on Shrove Tuesday.

Festival of the Black Christ - It includes a parade of the famous lifesize statute of the Black Christ. It is held on the 21 October and attracts pilgrims from all over the country.

Semana Santa ( Easter week) - These festive celebrations are held at Villa de Los santas on the Peninsula de Azuero.

Panama Carnival The last weekend in February features the Panama Carnival. For two days ordinary life in Panama City comes to a standstill and the air is filled with the sounds of reggae, the smell of food and incense and all the colours of the rainbow. The Carnival is centered on the very long and very wide Via Espana with numerous parades making their way up and down this stretch all day and night.

New Year's Day Jan 1
Martyrs' Day Jan 9
Carnival Last weekend Feb
Ash Wednesday Feb 25
Holy Thursday April 8
Good Friday March/April
Easter Monday March/April
Labour Day May 1
Founders Day Aug 15
All Souls Day Nov 2
Independence from Spain Nov 28
Mothers Day Dec 8
Christmas Eve Dec 24
Christmas Day Dec 25
New Year's Eve Dec 31

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