20 Interesting And Fun Facts About Panama [Explained]

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Panama is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse countries in the world. This country is well known for its famous Panama Canal and intriguing culture. There are many fun facts about Panama that make it an attractive destination.

Common Facts About Panama

Officially “the Republic of Panama,” the country sits on a narrow path connecting two landmasses of Central and South America and separating the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. It has an approximate population of 4.4 million.

The economy of Panama has been greatly boosted by its strategic geographical location and rich culture since gaining independence. It serves as an important business and trade hub between Latin America and the rest of the world.

Panama is an amazing place to visit as a gateway to the central region. Although a big part of the population resides in Panama City, the country features ancient ruins, deserted islands, and some beautiful cosmopolitan cities.

Historical Facts On Panama


Panama Canal Is Considered One Of The Wonders

There are many important facts about Panama, but this one certainly stands out. Panama houses one of the seven wonders of the modern world, “the Panama Canal.”

The Panama Canal is one of the most iconic landmarks in the country, often serving as a symbol of Panama’s rich heritage. The canal has been operational for over 100 years, playing a vital role in connecting international waters and trade routes. Moreover, it boasts

This artificial waterway, over 75km long, is one of only two strategic waterways worldwide. The other one is the Suez Canal in Egypt.

An interesting fact about the Panama Canal is that the construction lasted for 10 years. It started in 1904 and ended in 1914. As much as this canal was a great achievement, it held a sad memory too. During the construction of the canal, not less than 20,000 people lost their lives.

Full control of the canal was handed over to Panama In 1999 by the U.S. government. After its construction, this canal became a key component in Panama’s economy as it became an international center for trade.

Independence Days In Panama

Did you know Panamanians celebrate throughout November? One of the important Panama facts to know is that there are officially two Independence days.

In 1821 November 28, Panama gained independence from Spain and a few Countries in the Americas, including El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. But Panama remained a member of the Gran Colombia.

On November 3, 1903, it gained independence from the Gran Colombia union, which was reorganized by the United States 3 days later on November 6, 1903.


First Adopter Of USD In Latin American

Panama was the first Latin American country to officially adopt the U.S. dollar (USD) as its currency in 1904. However, there are other official currencies. Panama’s first official currency is the Panamanian Balboa (P.A.B.).

A fun fact about Panama’s currency is that it is only minted as coins. And this is one of the few currencies in the world that is tied with the USD, 1 PAB = 1 USD.

Gatun Lake

Here’s one cool fact about Panama: it is home to one of the largest artificial lakes. At the time of completion in 1912, it was the largest artificial lake in the world. This large freshwater lake is approximately 25 meters above sea level.

This Gatun Lake is a key part of the Panama Canal. It carried ships across the isthmus of Panama. Officially it was launched in 1913; at the time, the gates at the spillways of Gatun dam were closed, and they waited for the lake to fill before they began operating through the route.


Panama Viejo

Here is a Panama fact that you probably didn’t know. Before 1671, it was the most important Spanish trading town on the Pacific coast.

In 1671 though, Captain Henry Morgan destroyed the town, which significantly impacted its relevance. Only the ruins are left behind and still cover a significant area.

Some of the ruins left behind include hospitals, bridges, streets to the cathedral, and stone walls. It’s worth a visit to dive into the historical past of Panama.

Facts About Panama For Tourists

Seasons In Panama

Typically there are only two seasons in Panama, the wet and dry seasons. November to April hosts the dry season, while December to March plays host to the wet season.

Panama sits shy of 1000 km away from the equator. For this reason, Panama has an extremely hot tropical climate. It is important to know this before your next trip to this beautiful country and pack accordingly.


Home Of The Birds

If you are a bird lover, this would be the most exciting fact about Panama. In the country alone, there are at least 970 species of birds; that’s an astonishing number. Many bird watchers visit the region for this specific purpose; to discover the nature and biodiversity.

To put this remarkable fact about Panama into perspective, there are more species of birds in Panama than in the United States and Canada combined. That biodiversity is one of the things Panama is known for.

Watch The Sun Rise And Set In The Pacific And Atlantic

There are many cool facts about Panama, but this is arguably one of the coolest. In Panama, you have the luxury of witnessing the sunrise on the Pacific coast and also watching it set on the Atlantic coast.

You can watch both on the same day or on different days. To watch on the same day, you must wait 12 hours after the sun has risen to see it set on the other coast. Volcan Baru is one of the best places to catch an amazing view of the sun. This is the only volcano and highest point in Panama.


Volcan Baru

That said, although the country is not famous for its volcanoes, here’s a Panama fact worth knowing. Volcan Baru, which stands at 3,474 meters above sea level, is an active stratovolcano.

It is also the 12th highest point in Central America. When you are at the peak of Volcan Baru, you can catch a glimpse of both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean sea. This is due to how high and narrow the isthmus of Panama is.

San Blas Islands

If you want to enjoy and participate in the intriguing culture of the indigenous Panama people, then this is your stop. The beautiful island, located in the eastern part of Panama, is mostly claimed by the Kuna people.

They believe it is their place, but their hospitality is unrivaled. They are warm and welcoming to natives and foreigners.

For different areas on the island, there’s a member of the Kuna tribe stationed to allow visitors exclusive asses to the island for a whole day, although you may need to pay a relatively small fee.

Cultural Facts About Panama


Panama Hats Are From Ecuador

How about this for a fun fact about Panama? The infamous Panama hats that have become a staple in the country’s culture did not actually originate from Panama.

The Panama hat is a traditional hat of the Ecuadorians, and it originates from the South American country. Many Americans crossing the isthmus to reach California during the Gold Rush were fond of the hats. For that reason, many believed the hats were part of the Panama Tradition.


Christmas In Panama

Panama is one of the many Latin American counties dominated by Roman Catholics; hence Christmas celebration is a big deal in Panama.

Typically Christmas celebration in Panama is viewed as a family reunion and a time to tighten the bond between family members. It starts with a bucket of paint. In early December, after the many festivals in November, the family comes together to make repairs and paint the house in anticipation of Christmas.

It is the time for food after all the hard work. The Christmas meal in Panama is only complete with ham or turkey. Also included in the feast are rum punch, fruitcake, tamales, and pigeon peas.


Panama’s Cuisine

Like many Latin American countries, Rice, beans, plantain, vegetables, and fresh fruits are basic elements of Panamanian cuisine.

Due to the region’s geography, green leafy vegetables are not readily available in Panama, but others like corn, yuka, and plantain are available.

Some popular Panamanian dishes include sancocho, ceviche, tamales, yuca frita and tres leches.


Family Is The Goal

Here’s an important fact about Panama, the culture holds family in high regard. There is a strong emphasis on family.

Typically Panama families live together in the same home, and while they all go about their day-to-day activities, they all come back to contribute to the running cost of the household.

The women are more tasked with caring for the children, although the men are not exempted from this. It is common to see a family of 2,3,4 generations living together in the same house.

Sobresaltos Dance Festival

Like other South American countries, festivals are a strong part of the culture in Panama, and dancing is constant. An interesting fun fact about Panama is the country’s calendar is full of festivals or similar events all year round.

The Sobersaltos is a funky music festival held in Caso Antiguo, an old district of Panama City. This outdoor festival features contemporary art installations and stunning performances. It is an annual event held every December.

Other Interesting Facts About Panama


First Countries To Sell Coca-Cola

Here’s a cool fact about Panama. In 1906, Panama made history by becoming one of only the first two countries to sell Coca-cola outside the U.S.A. The other country is Cuba. Ironically, now coca-cola is kind of “banned” in Cuba.

Panama City Is A Centralized location

The capital of Panama is “Panama city.” It is one of the most beautiful capital cities of the world, with so many beautiful skyscrapers offering amazing views.

Here’s a fact about Panama that you probably don’t know, it is the most urbanized country in Latin America. At least 65% of the country’s population resides in Urban areas.

Panama city plays host to over half of the country’s population. At least 2 million people live in Panama, while others live in cities just on the outskirts.

Narrow Panama

As much as it is not the smallest country on the continent, Panama has an amazing geographic structure. Panama is just about 45 km at its narrowest point, while at its widest point, it’s 185 km.


Panama Flag

Panama’s flag is quite unique. An interesting fact about Panama’s flag is that it is one of few with a distinctive design. Forget all the triple vertical or horizontal stripes designs with different widths and arrangements, you won’t have a hard time with that when it comes to the Panama flag.

The Panama flag features three colors white, red, and blue. These three colors are in quarters, with the white appearing twice, although both white sides have a star, each with red and blue, respectively.

Crossing Panama Canal For $0.36

Crossing the Panama Canal is not cheap at all. How was it possible to cross it for less than $1?

Well, this is one of the most interesting facts about Panama. In 1928, Richard Halliburton crossed the canal by swimming; he only paid $0.36.

Swimming across the Panama Canal is no small feat; Richard should be considered a legend.

Discovering More Fun Facts About Panama

We just scratched the surface of Panama’s culture and history. From its unique flag to the iconic canal, there is much more to learn and explore about this amazing country in Central America. Dig deeper and you’ll find more amazing facts on Panama that can help you further appreciate this beautiful country.

Whether you are looking for cultural insights or natural wonders, Panama has something special to offer visitors. The best way to discover more fascinating facts about Panama is by visiting and exploring it firsthand!



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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