Government Tourist Bureau,
Apartado 442
Panama City 5, Republic of Panama
Tel. 64-4000 - Cable: Ipat
Telex: TRT-Telecom 2210


Physical geography

The total area of the country is 29,754 sq. miles. It is the land bridge connecting Central and South America and its mountains are part of the Rocky/Andes chain. The Republic is intersected by the Panama Canal, 49 miles long from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean.


Coastal cities have tropical weather, while highlands enjoy springtime climate. Temperatures range from 25 to 27 Centigrade.

Economic geography

The main exports are tourism, bananas, petroleum products, shrimp, beef, sugar. Industries include soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, dairy products, bread, cement, steel products, clothing, shoes, oil refining.

Colon Free Zone is a distribution warehouse for exporting goods. Panama is a banking and financial centre for Latin America. Tourism is a growing industry of major importance. There are more than 130 international banks in the country.


The population of Panama is about 2,329,300. Panama City, the capital, has a population of about 825,300. Almost half of the population live in urban areas.

A brief history

Discovered during Christopher Columbus' fourth voyage to America, Panama City was founded in 1519. Treasures from the Spanish conquest of Peru were shipped across the Pacific to Panama and thence to Spain. In 1821 Panama declared its independence from Spain and joined Columbia. In 1903 Panama became an independent republic.


Largely Roman Catholic. However, there is complete freedom of religion and many faiths are represented.

Languages spoken by nationals

The national language is Spanish, though many also speak English, especially in the cities.


Eastern Standard Time.


Currency is based on the Balboa, with a value equal to the dollar. US and Panamanian currencies are used interchangeably.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 January New Year's Day - 9 January, Day of Mourning - 19 February, Carnival Tuesday - 28 March, Good Friday - 1 May, Labour Day - 11 October, Day of the Revolution - 3 November, Independence Day - 8 December, Mother's Day - 25 December, Christmas.

What one should not fail to see

Panama Viejo, ruins of the first city of Panama, destroyed by pirate Henry Morgan in 1671, Colonial Panama including Church of the Golden Altar, Las Bovedas, Presidential Palace, National Theatre, modern Panama, museums.

Atlapa, Panama's new convention centre.

The Panama Canal, 8th Wonder of the World.

San Blas Islands, home of the Cuna Indians whose culture is centuries old.

Contadora Island in the Pearl Archipelago. Pacific beaches, especially Coronado, Santa Clara, Punta Chame and Rio Mar, Taboga Island.

Portobelo, city destroyed by pirates despite its five forts. The interior of Panama, including picturesque towns such as El Valle, Santiago, David, the highlands such as Boquete, Cerro Punta, El Volcan. Atlantic Port City, Colon.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

Any time of the year.

How to dress

Summer clothes for coastal cities, add a sweater for mountains.

Main holiday resorts

Taboga Island, Contadora Island, El Valle, Coronado, Rio Mar and other Pacific beaches, Boquete, Cerro Punta, El Volcan, San Blas Islands.

Main holiday sports

Water sports, fishing (Panama's waters, which abound in fish, hold over 40 world records), golf, tennis, horseback riding. Spectator sports include horse racing, soccer, baseball, golf, boxing, cockfights.

What to eat and drink

Panama has the purest drinking water in the world and high food sanitation standards. Restaurants cater to every taste Panamanian specialities, including fine seafood - Mexican Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese restaurants. Rapid order foods such as Kentucky fried chicken, McDonald's hamburgers, etc.

What to buy

Panama, where many tourist articles are duty free, is the Hong Kong of the Western Hemisphere with goods from all over the world at bargain prices. Panamanian handicrafts include the San Blas 'MOLA', Indian beaded necklaces called 'Chaquiras', wood carvings, leather and basket work. Oriental goods, French perfumes, European and Japanese cameras and hi-fi equipment china, linens are all sold in Panama at low prices.

Frontier formalities

Passports and visas

Some nationals need tourist cards or visas. Kindly check with Panamanian Consul. Airlines furnish tourist cards for $5, valid for 30 days, renewable through the Immigration Department.

Health regulations

A valid smallpox vaccination certificate, if arriving from an infected country.


Personal baggage, a carton of cigarettes, three bottles of liquor can be imported free of duty.

Currency regulations

Adequate resources of $10 per day required.


Tourists are not required to register with police.

Motor vehicles. Cars and motorcycles can be brought in by tourists for their own use on production of registration papers, a driving permit and registering with Movil Unit of the Ministerio de Hacienda.

Main travel routes

By air: Panama is a crossroad with many international airlines stopping there.

By sea: The Panama Canal attracts ships from all over the world. In addition, other ships stop at Atlantic or Pacific ports. By road: The Interamerican Highway extends almost to Panama's southern border. Ferry from Colon to Cartagena.

Domestic transportation: Land transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Isthmus is available by highway or railway. Bus lines serve the principal cities of the Republic. Car rentals available. Air transportation to all parts of the Isthmus is available. National domestic airlines offer daily flights to the principal cities and the islands. Plane rentals are also available.


Convention Centre: Atlapa, Panama's fabulous Convention Centre, located on Via Israel in Panama City, is named for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans which bathe Panama's shores and are joined by the Panama Canal. Atlapa has a 3,000 seat theatre and exhibition hall for 200 booths with banquet facilities for 3,000, simultaneous translation in six languages and other ultra modern facilities. For further information, write to Post Office Box 4421, Panama 5, Republic of Panama.


The Government operates casinos in major hotels. Discotheques, night-clubs and boites are many.

Voltage is 110 voltage A.C.

Communications: Direct telephone and cable service.

Conveniently located post offices.

Representatives abroad

Bogota: Ancon Manzanillo, 5520 B Bogota

Madrid: Nunez de Balboa, 115-5, 28006 Madrid, Tel 562 0628, Fax: 576 7161

Mexico: Casa 400 Edif 6, Entrada 2, No 4, Nonoalco - Tlateloco, DF Mexico, Tel: 522 5173, Fax: 597 4558

Palma: Camino de la Real, 32, 07010 Palma, Baleares

Paris: 25 rue Praider, 75019 Paris, Fax: 42 06 7259

Venice: Gran Viale Santa Maria Elizabeth N 8 A, 30126 Lido de Venezia, Tel: 041 526 9374.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Panama thanks to the co-operation of the Panama Government Bureau in Panama.