Top Ten Panamanian Attractions

Top Ten Panamanian Attractions

       Panama is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Panama City. Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador and Venezuela, named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama and Nueva Granada stayed joined. Nueva Granada later became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the U.S., Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the Panama Canal to be built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977, an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the U.S. to Panama by the end of the century. Revenue from Canal tolls represent today a significant portion of Panama’s GDP. Panama has the 3rd or 4th largest economy in Central America and is also the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America. In 2010 Panama ranked 4th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index, and 54th in the world. As of 2010, Panama is the 2nd most competitive economy in Latin America.Panama has the largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere outside the Amazon Basin and its jungle is home to an abundance of tropical plants, animals and birds, some of which can be found nowhere else on Earth.

  1. Panama City

    Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. The city is the political and administrative center of the country, and a hub for international banking and commerce. With an average GDP per capita of $11,700, Panama has been among the top 5 places for retirement in the world, according to International Living magazine. Panama City has a dense skyline of mostly high-rise buildings, and it is surrounded by a large belt of tropical rainforest. It has an advanced communications system, Internet use is widespread; and Panama’s Tocumen International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Central America, offers daily flights to major international destinations. Panama City was jointly chosen to be the American Capital of Culture for 2003 with Curitiba, Brazil.
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  2. Panama Canal

    The Panama Canal is a 77 km (48 mi) ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in the canal’s early days to 14,702 vessels in 2008, measuring a total 309.6 million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons. In total over 815,000 vessels have passed through the canal. It has been named one of the seven modern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via either the Strait of Magellan or Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (5,900 mi), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn. The concept of a canal near Panama dates to the early 16th century. The first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership, but was abandoned after 21,900 workers died, largely from disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. The U.S. launched a second effort, incurring a further 5,600 deaths but succeeding in opening the canal in 1914. The U.S. controlled the canal and the Canal Zone surrounding it until the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties provided for the transition of control to Panama. From 1979 to 1999 the canal was under joint U.S.–Panamanian administration, and from December 31, 1999 command of the waterway was assumed by the Panama Canal Authority, an agency of the Panamanian government. While the Pacific Ocean is west of the isthmus and the Atlantic to the east, the 8 to 10 hour journey through the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic is one from southeast to northwest. This is a result of the isthmus’s “curving back on itself” in the region of the canal. The Bridge of the Americas at the Pacific end is about a third of a degree of longitude east of the end near Colon on the Atlantic. The maximum size of vessel that can use the canal is known as Panamax. A Panamax cargo ship typically has a DWT of 65,000-80,000 tonnes, but its actual cargo is restricted to about 52,500 tonnes because of draft restrictions in the canal. The longest ship ever to transit was the San Juan Prospector, now Marcona Prospector, an ore-bulk-oil carrier that is 973 ft (296.57 m) long, with a beam of 106 ft (32.31 m).
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  3. Darien National Park

    Darién National Park is a world heritage site in Panama. It is about 325 km from Panama City and is the most extensive of all national parks of Panama. It was categorized in 1981 as a worldwide patrimony and in 1983 as a biosphere reserve. Its most common species include macaw, parrot and tapirs. The harpy eagle also calls this national park home. It is noted for its incredible genetic value. The sheer beauty of the landscape and forest generally captivate visitors. Visitors will usually fly into El Real, the closest town to the park.
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  4. Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad International Park
    The Cordillera de Talamanca is a mountain range that lies on the border between Costa Rica and Panama. Much of the range and the area around it are included in the La Amistad International Park, which is  also shared between the two countries. This range contains in the south of Costa Rica stretches from southwest of San José to beyond the border with Panama and contains the highest peaks of Costa Rica and Panama, among them the Cerro Chirripó with 3,820 m and the more accessible high peak of Cerro de la Muerte. Much of the Caribbean areas of the range are still unexplored. The La Amistad International Park is a Transboundary Protected Area in Latin America, management of which is shared between Costa Rica and Panama.
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  5. Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

    Coiba is the largest island in Central America, with an area of 503 square km, off the Pacific coast of the Panamanian province of Veraguas.
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  6. Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá

    Panamá Viejo is the remaining part of the old Panama City and former capital of the country. It is located in the suburbs of the modern city.
  7. Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo

    Portobelo is a port city in the Colón Province, located on the northern part of the Isthmus of Panama that has a deep natural harbor. Today, Portobelo has a population of fewer than 3,000.
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