Panama is located in the middle of the
American continent. Through the east lies Colombia and through the west Costa Rica. It
forms a natural isthmian bridge, 80 kilometers in its narrowest part, that joins the
Atlantic Ocean in the north with the Pacific Ocean in the south.
Click if you would like to see
a map with the geographic location of Panama in the world
It is a 100% tropical with temperatures around
80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (about 25 - 30 degrees Celsius). There are two seasons: the
dry season with a bright sun from December to April and the rainy season from May to
November. You can also enjoy temperatures of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius in the
highlands of the Province of Chiriqui close to the border with Costa Rica as well as in
the Valley of Anton and Cerro Azul at one hour and a half and 40 minutes from
downtown Panama City respectively.
Good News!!! Panama is situated
south of the hurricane track and generally not affected by these tropical storms.-
Click if you would like to see a Panama Forecast.
coasts and islands
Panama covers an area of 75,517 square
kilometers with more than a 1,000 miles of coasts and 1,000 islands on the Pacific side
and 800 miles of coasts and 600 islands on the Caribbean side.
There is an estimated population of 2,329,329
(1990 census) with 40% residing in Panama City.
Spanish is the official language but most
Panamanians speak English fluently.
The currency is the Balboa which has the same
value as the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is legal tender in Panama by a 1904
agreement between the two countries. Therefore Panama does not print bank notes but
only mints its own coins. Panamanian coins are 50c, 25c, 10c, 5c and one cent.
Banks are open to the general public from
8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday; some of them until 6:00 p.m. and
on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 m. They are located all around Panama City and some
of them have branch offices in the interior of the country. Visa American Express, Master
Card and Diners Club credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and commercial
Panama's electrical grid covers the whole
country;110-volt AC is found nation-wide. Panama has an excellent telephone and
communications system which can be considered the best in Latin American and one of the
most sophisticated in the world. There is potable water in all towns; qualified as
one of the purest in the world, it is safe to drink directly from the faucet.
Transfer from Tocumen International Airport to
downtown is provided by airport taxi or limos at two different rates: US$20.00 for a
maximum of two persons or US$24.00 for a maximum of three passengers. In the city,
taxis are inexpensive and almost constantly available. The fares vary
according to the number of zones you travel. Going outside the city limits can cost up to
US$10.00. Taxis waiting at hotel entrances are air-conditioned and a little more
expensive but some of the drivers are trained guides and speak English or can understand
it. Buses to the interior are also comfortable, air-conditioned, with
reclining seats and stereo music and very affordable.
Foreign drivers licenses are valid
for up to 90 days. Speed limit is 90 km/hr. Gas stations are easy to find on the
Panamerican Highway except from Panama City to Darien.
and exit requirements
Panamanian Immigration has waived visa
requirement for many countries. Check with the Panamanian Consulate in your country
of residence and you may discover that a visa is no longer needed. In most cases a
tourist card is sufficient and can be bought before boarding the plane at the airline
ticket counter or at the Immigration Office at Tocumen International Airport after you
have arrived in Panama. Tourist Cards are valid for 30 days however you can get a
two-month extension at the Immigration and Naturalization Head Office in Panama City, if
you submit a request 7 days before the first 30 days have expired.
All tourists must pay an exit tax of
Bring light clothes. Panamanians are
very casual most of the time but a light suit is worn for business and for visit to
government authorities. Never forget to include a bathing suit when packing your
suitcase. Sun glasses are recommended as well as sunscreen lotion for protection
If you visit the highlands of Chiriqui
Province, bring a light sweater or jacket since it can be a little chilly in the evening
and early morning. Good walking shoes are necessary for your excursions.
There is no restrictions on what you can bring
with you for personal use. Visitors are allowed up to two cartons of cigarettes,
five bottles or a gallon of liquor. A duty free zone is located at the airport
before entering Customs and Immigration and is useful for last minute shopping for a gift
for your friends or hosts in Panama.
Panama is a constitutional republic.
Executive power is held by the President assisted by two Vice-Presidents and an appointed
Cabinet of ministers. The Judicial Branch is composed of a Supreme Court of Justice
with nine judges appointed for 10 years terms; five superior courts, and three courts of
appeal. The Legislative Branch is unicameral; the President and the legislator are
elected through popular vote every 5 years.
Panama is divided into nine provinces with
their respective capitals. Each province is in turn divided into districts, municipalities
and administrative units called corregidors.
Click if you will like to visualize the administrative
division of Panama.
Because of its key geographic location,
Panama's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce and tourism.
The Colon Free Zone and the Panama Canal play a very significant role in the country's
economy by generating employment and services. Another important employment
generator is the Trans-Isthmian Pipeline, which goes from ocean to ocean, from
Puerto Armuelles in the Province of Chiriqui to Chiriqui Grande in the Province of
Bocas del Toro.
Panama has the largest merchant marine
registry in the world. This service represents the biggest foreign currency
earner for the country. The main export products are bananas, rice, corn, sugar cane,
coffee and shrimps bought mostly by Costa Rica, Germany and other European countries.
Like all Latin American countries, Panama is
predominantly Catholic but other denomination are found throughout the country.
The Panamanian Institute of Tourism
(IPAT) is the national tourism office; it is located in the ATLAPA Convention Center on
For more information contact:
Mr. CÚsar Tribaldos
P.O. Box 4421, Zone 5
Telephone: (507) 226-7000 Fax: (507) 226-3684
Open to the public: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday