Discover Interesting Facts About Panama: Culture, Nature, and History

Welcome to Panama, the land of fascinating culture, natural beauty, and rich history. From its vibrant festivals and traditions to its breathtaking beaches and incredible wildlife, Panama offers an alluring mix of experiences that will leave you wanting more.

Join us as we delve into the unique and exciting aspects of Panama that make it an unforgettable destination.

interesting facts about panama

Key Takeaways

  • Panama is a country rich in culture, history, and natural wonders.
  • From its diverse cultural heritage to its stunning beaches and islands, Panama offers something for every traveler.
  • The Panama Canal is a modern engineering marvel that has shaped global trade and transportation.
  • Panama’s ancient civilizations and UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer a glimpse into its rich history and cultural significance.
  • The country’s rising tourism industry is attracting visitors with its natural wonders, historical sites, and warm hospitality.

Panama’s Rich Cultural Heritage

Panama’s cultural heritage is a melting pot of indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean influences, making it a vibrant and diverse country.

Music and dance play an integral part in Panamanian culture. The country has a rich history of music, with genres ranging from traditional folk music to modern pop. One of the most popular music styles in Panama is salsa, which originated in Cuba and spread throughout Latin America. Other popular genres include reggaeton, merengue, and cumbia.

Panamanian cuisine is equally diverse, with influences from Spain, Africa, and the indigenous people. Some of the most popular dishes include sancocho, a hearty soup made with chicken and vegetables, and arroz con pollo, a flavorful chicken and rice dish. Seafood is also a staple in Panama, with ceviche being a particularly popular dish.

The indigenous people of Panama have a rich history and culture that is still celebrated today. The Kuna people, who live on the San Blas Islands, are known for their colorful traditional clothing and intricate molas, which are textiles made using a reverse applique technique. The Embera people, who live in the rainforests of Panama, are known for their intricate basket weaving and woodcarving skills.

Spain’s influence on Panama can be seen in the country’s architecture. The historic district of Panama City, known as Casco Viejo, is filled with beautiful colonial buildings that have been preserved for centuries. The Panama Canal, which was built by the United States in the early 20th century, is also a testament to Panama’s history and engineering prowess.

panama cultural heritage

“Panama’s cultural heritage is a melting pot of indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean influences, making it a vibrant and diverse country.”

The Marvels of Panama’s Nature

One of the most fascinating things about Panama is its diverse and breathtaking natural beauty.

Panama is home to dense rainforests, towering mountains, and stunning beaches that attract visitors from all over the world. Its flora and fauna are equally impressive, with countless species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

Panama rainforest

The Panama Canal is one of the most notable landmarks in the country, but it is just one aspect of Panama’s impact on the environment. The canal has also had a significant impact on the region’s biodiversity, creating new habitats and disrupting others.

Aside from the canal, Panama is also known for its incredible animal life. The country is home to approximately 218 mammal species, 226 reptile species, and more than 1,000 bird species. Some of the most iconic animals found in Panama include jaguars, sloths, and toucans.

Aside from its wildlife, Panama is also known for its stunning coral reefs, which are some of the most diverse in the world. These reefs are home to a vast array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and sharks.

Overall, Panama’s natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring, and visitors would do well to explore its many national parks, beaches, and other natural attractions.

The Panama Canal: A Modern Engineering Wonder

One of Panama’s most famous and impressive landmarks is the Panama Canal. This incredible feat of engineering links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, allowing ships to travel between the two in just a matter of hours, instead of having to travel all the way around the southern tip of South America. The canal plays a crucial role in global trade and transportation, and is a testament to human ingenuity and innovation.

The construction of the Panama Canal was no small feat. It took over a decade and employed thousands of workers, many of whom lost their lives due to accidents and disease. The project was initiated by the French in the late 1800s, but was ultimately completed by the US in 1914. It remains one of the greatest achievements in modern engineering, and continues to be a source of pride for Panama and its people.

The canal is approximately 50 miles long and features a series of locks that raise and lower ships through varying elevations. It takes approximately 8-10 hours for a ship to pass through the canal, and the entire process is closely monitored by a team of experienced canal pilots. The canal has greatly impacted global commerce and has helped to streamline transportation, making it faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective.

Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the Panama Canal, learning about its history and construction, as well as the day-to-day operations that keep it running smoothly. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Panama, and a testament to the country’s rich history and culture.

panama canal

Panama’s Ancient Civilizations

Panama has a rich history of ancient civilizations, including the Pre-Columbian societies that left behind magnificent archaeological sites for us to explore. These civilizations have contributed to shaping Panama’s culture and identity, and their legacy continues to inspire us today.

The most famous of these ancient civilizations are the Kuna, Emberá, and Ngobe-Buglé peoples who still live in Panama today. They have their own customs, languages, and traditions that have been passed down for generations.

The Kuna People

The Kuna people are famous for their colorful molas, intricate textiles that are hand-stitched in layers to create vibrant patterns. They live on the San Blas Islands off the Caribbean coast, and their way of life is closely tied to the sea.

Kuna woman wearing a mola

The Emberá People

The Emberá people live in the dense rainforests of Panama and Colombia. They are known for their stunning basketry, pottery, and woodcarvings. They have a deep respect for nature, and their culture is closely tied to the environment.

The Ngobe-Buglé People

The Ngobe-Buglé people live in western Panama and are the largest indigenous group in the country. They have a rich oral tradition that includes storytelling and music. They are also skilled farmers and cultivators, and their traditional practices of sustainable agriculture continue to be used today.

Exploring Panama’s ancient civilizations is a fascinating way to learn about the country’s cultural heritage and gain a deeper appreciation for its diverse communities.

Panama’s World Heritage Sites

As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Panama has a variety of natural and cultural wonders to explore. At least three of these remarkable locations are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, each recognized for their outstanding universal value to humanity.

The Historic District of Panama City

The Historic District of Panama City, also known as Casco Viejo, is a cultural gem located on the Pacific coast of Panama. The district is home to numerous buildings of historical significance, including the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Presidential Palace. With its stunning colonial architecture and vibrant atmosphere, it’s no wonder the district has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Year Designated:1997
Location:Panama City
Area:Approximately 18 hectares
Notable Features:Metropolitan Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Plaza de la Independencia
Panama's Historic District

Darien National Park

The Darien National Park is a vast expanse of protected rainforest in eastern Panama, bordering Colombia. The park’s diverse ecosystem is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna, including jaguars, tapirs, and bush dogs. The park is also home to the indigenous Emberá people, who have lived in the region for centuries.

Year Designated:1981
Location:Eastern Panama, bordering Colombia
Area:Approximately 579,000 hectares
Notable Features:Protects one of the largest remaining areas of humid tropical forest in the American continent, the diversity of habitats, the presence of indigenous peoples who have been living in the region for centuries.

Coiba National Park and Special Zone of Marine Protection

The Coiba National Park is an archipelago located off the Pacific coast of Panama. It’s the largest island in Central America and is home to one of the best-preserved marine ecosystems in the world. With its stunning coral reefs and crystal-clear waters, the park is a popular destination for diving, fishing, and snorkeling.

Year Designated:2005
Location:Off the Pacific coast of Panama
Area:Approximately 270,125 hectares
Notable Features:One of the best-preserved marine ecosystems in the world, supports a large number of endemic species, including the Coiba Island howler monkey and the Coiba Island agouti.

These remarkable sites are just a small sample of the natural and cultural wonders Panama has to offer. Exploring them is a must for anyone seeking to experience the country’s rich history and stunning natural beauty.

Panama’s Colorful Festivals and Traditions

When it comes to cultural experiences, Panama offers a plethora of vibrant festivals and traditions that are not to be missed. From the world-famous Carnival celebrations to the traditional Pollera dress, Panama’s culture is a melting pot of customs, rituals, and folklore.

Panama’s Carnival

Panama’s Carnival is one of the most colorful and flamboyant events in the world. With music, dancing, and parades that last for four whole days, it’s a true celebration of life and culture. Carnival takes place in late February or early March, and visitors can expect to see extravagant costumes, lively music, and lots of dancing in the streets.

Panama Carnival

Pollera Dress

The Pollera is a traditional dress worn by Panamanian women, made up of a blouse and a skirt adorned with colorful embroidery and lace. Each region of Panama has its unique style of Pollera, and the dress often takes a year or more to make. The Pollera is a symbol of Panamanian identity and heritage and is worn during festivals and special occasions.

Other Festivals and Traditions

In addition to Carnival and the Pollera dress, Panama has a rich tapestry of other festivals and traditions. These include the Corpus Christi procession, the Festival of the Black Christ, and the Festival of La Mejorana. Each event has its unique customs and practices and is a testament to Panama’s diverse cultural heritage.

Whether you’re a history buff, a culture lover, or simply looking for an unforgettable experience, Panama’s festivals and traditions are sure to leave a lasting impression. So why not book your next trip to Panama and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture?

Panama’s Remarkable Wildlife

Panama is home to an incredible array of wildlife, with over 10,000 plant species and 1,000 bird species alone. Its diverse ecosystems, including tropical rainforests, mangrove swamps, and coral reefs, support a host of fascinating creatures that are sure to captivate nature lovers.

Did you know? Panama is so rich in biodiversity that it has been called a “bridge” between North and South America, allowing species to move between the two continents.

JaguarThis apex predator is the biggest cat in the Americas and can be found in the Darien National Park.
SlothsPanama is home to two species of sloths, the three-toed and the two-toed, which can often be spotted in the trees of the rainforest.
ToucansThese colorful birds are a common sight in Panama’s forests, with their distinctive oversized bills.

The country is also known for its incredible amphibians, including the famous poison dart frogs, which come in a variety of bright colors and patterns.

Did you know? The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama has been studying the country’s biodiversity for over 100 years, making important discoveries and contributing to our understanding of the natural world.


Efforts to conserve Panama’s precious wildlife are ongoing, with initiatives such as the creation of protected areas and species-specific conservation projects. Visitors to the country can enjoy a variety of eco-tourism activities, such as birdwatching, jungle hikes, and snorkeling.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of the natural world, Panama’s remarkable wildlife is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Panama’s Beautiful Beaches and Islands

Panama is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and islands in the world, making it an ideal destination for tourists seeking sun, sand, and sea. From the idyllic San Blas Islands to the popular Bocas del Toro, there is no shortage of coastal destinations to explore in Panama.

The San Blas Islands are a collection of over 350 islands located in the Caribbean Sea. These islands offer a unique and authentic experience for visitors, with the opportunity to learn about the Kuna indigenous culture and enjoy pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. The islands have limited tourist infrastructure, which ensures a serene and peaceful getaway.

Bocas del Toro is a popular tourist destination that features a vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and world-class surfing. This archipelago consists of nine main islands and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. It also offers visitors a chance to explore the local culture, with traditional crafts and cuisine available throughout the area.

For those seeking a more secluded beach experience, Isla Contadora is a must-visit destination. Located in the Pearl Islands, this small island offers visitors the chance to relax on white sand beaches and enjoy the crystal-clear waters. It is also an excellent location for snorkeling, diving, and fishing.

Whether you are looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventure-filled getaway, Panama’s beaches and islands have something for everyone. With its stunning natural beauty and warm hospitality, Panama is quickly becoming a top tourist destination for travelers around the world.

Panama's Beautiful Beaches and Islands

Panama’s Rising Tourism Industry

Over the past few years, Panama has emerged as a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world with its unique offerings. From its rich cultural heritage to its magnificent natural wonders, Panama has something for everyone. As a result, the country’s tourism industry has been flourishing, contributing significantly to its economy.

In recent years, Panama has been investing in its tourism infrastructure to cater to the growing number of visitors. The country has seen a surge in the number of hotels, resorts, and vacation rental properties, offering a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. Additionally, the country has developed new tourism sites, such as the Amador Causeway, a scenic promenade that connects three islands in the Panama Bay.

Promoting Sustainable Tourism

While the country is keen to promote tourism, it is also committed to protecting its natural and cultural heritage. Panama’s government and tourism industry have been working together to promote sustainable tourism, which aims to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment and local communities.

One of the country’s initiatives in this area is the “Green Panama” campaign, which promotes eco-friendly tourism activities. The campaign encourages visitors to explore Panama’s natural beauty by engaging in activities such as bird watching, hiking, and kayaking. Additionally, the campaign promotes environmentally responsible accommodations and transportation.


As Panama’s tourism industry continues to grow, the country remains committed to preserving its unique offerings for generations to come. Visitors can enjoy the best of both worlds – discovering Panama’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty while contributing to the country’s economy and sustainable tourism efforts.


Q: What are some interesting facts about Panama’s culture, nature, and history?

A: In Panama, you can explore the rich cultural heritage, marvel at the stunning nature, and learn about the fascinating history. From vibrant music, dance, and cuisine to lush rainforests, exotic wildlife, and pristine beaches, Panama has it all. The Panama Canal, a modern engineering wonder, connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, shaping global trade. The country’s ancient civilizations and UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer insights into its rich history.

Q: What is Panama known for culturally?

A: Panama is known for its diverse cultural heritage. It boasts vibrant music and dance, influenced by indigenous traditions, Spanish culture, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. The country’s cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors, combining indigenous ingredients with Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences. Festivals like Carnival and traditional customs, such as the Pollera dress, showcase Panama’s colorful traditions.

Q: What natural attractions can I find in Panama?

A: Panama is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. Its lush rainforests are home to a tremendous diversity of wildlife, including jaguars, sloths, toucans, and colorful frogs. Pristine beaches and stunning coral reefs offer opportunities for relaxation and underwater exploration. The Panama Canal, a man-made wonder, also has an impact on the environment, which you can learn about during your visit.

Q: How was the Panama Canal constructed?

A: The Panama Canal is an iconic feat of engineering. It was constructed by digging a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The construction involved overcoming various challenges, including the mountainous terrain and the control of water flow. It significantly reduced the travel time and cost of shipping between the two oceans, shaping global trade and transportation.

Q: What ancient civilizations thrived in Panama?

A: Panama has a rich history of ancient civilizations. Pre-Columbian societies, such as the indigenous cultures, left behind magnificent archaeological sites. Their customs, beliefs, and contributions to Panama’s history are fascinating to explore. These ancient civilizations offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the country.

Q: What are some of Panama’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

A: Panama boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include the historic district of Panama City, with its well-preserved colonial architecture, the Darien National Park, a vast and biodiverse wilderness, and the Coiba National Park, home to a pristine marine ecosystem. These sites hold cultural and natural significance and are must-visit destinations for travelers.

Q: What are some of the colorful festivals and traditions in Panama?

A: Panama is known for its vibrant festivals and traditions. The famous Carnival celebrations, with their parades, music, and costumes, are a highlight of the cultural calendar. Traditional customs, like the Pollera dress, showcase the country’s heritage. Immersing yourself in Panama’s festivals and traditions allows you to experience the customs, rituals, and folklore that make its culture unique.

Q: What kind of wildlife can I find in Panama?

A: Panama is home to a remarkable array of wildlife. From majestic jaguars and adorable sloths to colorful toucans and frogs, the country’s diverse ecosystems offer a haven for biodiversity. Exploring Panama’s natural wonders provides opportunities to observe and appreciate its unique wildlife. Conservation efforts are in place to protect these precious inhabitants.

Q: What are some of Panama’s beautiful beaches and islands?

A: Panama boasts stunning beaches and islands that are worth a visit. The San Blas Islands, with their pristine white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters, offer a tropical paradise experience. Bocas del Toro, a popular destination, provides opportunities for beach hopping, surfing, and exploring the vibrant marine life. These coastal destinations offer a range of activities and attractions for all types of travelers.

Q: How has Panama’s tourism industry been growing?

A: Panama’s tourism industry has been flourishing in recent years. The country’s natural wonders, historical sites, and warm hospitality have attracted visitors from around the globe. Panama’s rising popularity as a tourist destination has led to increased investment in infrastructure and services. Efforts to promote sustainable tourism ensure that visitors can enjoy the country’s beauty while preserving its natural and cultural heritage.