What is the geography of Panama?
Panama is the southernmost of the Central American countries bordered on the west by Costa Rica, on the east by Colombia, on the north by the Caribbean coastline and on the south by the Pacific coastline. The total land area is 78,046 sq km. The Panama Canal divides the country into eastern and western regions. There are about 480 rivers in Panama and 1518 islands off the coasts.
How's the Weather? Panama is situated very close to the equator and enjoys a tropical climate with average temperatures between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. We have mainly two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season runs from January through April - the temperature is generally 80 to 85 degrees F, cooler in the evenings, and it almost never rains the whole day. May through December the temperature is a little cooler and afternoon thunderstorms can be expected from higher humidity.
What is the local language?
Spanish is the official language; however many Panamanians are bilingual. Some indigenous tribes still speak their own language but most speak some Spanish.
What is the population and ethnic makeup?
The population of the country is 3.2 million people of diverse origins: Spanish descendants, blacks, Indians, immigrants from North America, Europe, Asia, East India and other countries. Nearly 49% of the population live in urban areas. Panama City has an estimated population of 825,300. There are 5 indigenous groups in Panama: Kunas in the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean; Chocoe (divided linguistically into 2 groups-Embera & Wounaan) in the province of Darien; Guaymies (Ngobe Bugle) in the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro & Veraguas; and Teribes & Bokotas (Buglere) in Bocas del Toro province.
What is the official currency?
The U.S. dollar is legal tender in Panama
What time is it there?
Panama is on Eastern Standard Time (EST) except during daylight savings months, then we are one hour behind EST.
What are some of the dining options in Panama City?
There are many great restaurants in Panama City, to the right are some of our suggestions. We also encourage you to ask the concierge at your hotel for their recommendations. If you are more comfortable with chain restaurants ask for directions to: TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays, Bennigans, PF Changs, Hooters, Papa Johns, Crepes and Waffles, Ruth’s Chris, or Jimmy Johns. There are also a lot of great hotel restaurants and nightclubs in Casco Viejo. Here is a PDF file that you can print and take with you of other restaurnants you might enjoy. Dining Options (PDF)
What type of wildlife can I see in Panama?
With its huge expanses of tropical rainforest, the Isthmus of Panama is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Its unique ecology stems in part from its connection to two continents. Birds are a primary indicator of biodiversity and Panama takes the grand prize of 936 species of birds, more than the United States and Canada combined. Until 1996 Panama held the Audubon Society’s world record for identifying the most species of birds in a single day - 357 species were counted in one 24-hour period. There are 125 animal species found only in Panama, and many kinds of animals can be seen including: tapirs, caiman, monkeys, sloths, jungle cats, deer, bats, possums, etc. Panama is also privileged to be home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the world’s primary tropical scientific investigation center, which has been cataloging and monitoring this vast ecological heritage for nearly a century.