Facts about Panama

As people search for travel destinations around the world, more people are enjoying tourism in Panama than ever before. The country is a very easy drive, especially for people from the United States and Canada and has an incredible amount to offer even the most seasoned tourist. Sightseeing in Panama can take you to the mountains, to the beach, to the rainforest, or even to the past. Due to its long-term affiliation with the US, many things about Panama are familiar to Americans, but the beauty of tourism in Panama is that no matter where you come from, you can find something exciting and new.

Panama Government

  • Government: elected democracy
  • Current Head of State: President Ricardo Martinelli
  • Currency: US dollar (called Balboa) National paper money is not printed, but there are coins of the same size and denominations as American coins.
  • Sales tax: VAT is 5% (10% for imports)

Panama Geography

  • Area: 75,990 square feet miles
  • Population: 3,360,000, 2009 est.
  • Capital: city ​​of Panama

Panama Infrastructure

  • Time zone: GMT-5
  • Telegram: Available in hotels and main post offices in major cities.
  • Press: La Prensa, El Siglo and El Panamá América are among the most important newspapers.
  • Email: Mail to North America takes about a week. Post office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am to 1:00 pm For express services, FedEx and DHL are available in most areas. Mail forwarding services are available from locations like Miami, FL for approx. $25 per month. These services provide an address and regularly forward mail based on a charge by weight.
  • Police: If you are the victim of a crime, report it immediately to your local police, especially if you are filing an insurance claim. The tourist police, or policia de turismo, are better prepared to deal with foreigners and are more likely to speak English. They usually wear white armbands and ride bicycles.
  • Electricity: 120 volts AC, 60 Hz
  • Emergency numbers: Police 104, Fire 103, Tourist Police 269 8011), 911 is for medical emergencies only!

Panama Demography

  • Idiom: Spanish (official), English 14%, and is the second official language
  • Religion: 85% Catholic, 15% Protestant

Panama communications

  • Mobile phone: There are roaming agreements, but most people buy their minutes with a calling card
  • Fax: Available at most post offices and hotels
  • Directory Assistance: dial 102
  • National dialing code: 507
  • Phone: IDD is available. International calling cards are available and widely used. Many internet cafes also offer VoIP calls.

miscellaneous facts

  • Nap time: There is no siesta, no midday break in the city. In some inland areas it makes sense and is still the custom.
  • Internet: Internet cafes are common and inexpensive. (usually less than $1 per hour) Some restaurants and coffee shops now offer wireless hotspots.
  • farts: Have your vet prepare a standard International Sanitary Certificate no more than 10 days before traveling to Panama. The certificate must include the pet’s name, breed, owner’s name, and current country of residence. It must indicate that the pet is healthy and free of parasites. It must also contain a list of inoculations including type, manufacturer, and lot number.
  • Advice: 10 to 15 percent is typical in hotels and restaurants. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but it is advisable to arrange the fare before the trip.
  • Tuxedo: Panama is now a non-smoking city. You can smoke outdoors if no one is around and no one else is present at your home.

Panama Trip

With the continued growth of Panama’s Tocumen International Airport, tourism in Panama has become an easy adventure. With direct flights from Miami, FL and Houston, TX, Panama is just over two hours from the US. Other countries, including several in Europe, also offer direct flights to Panama, connecting Panama tourism with the rest of the world. The US government is very supportive of travel to Panama and lists only a small part of the border area with Colombia as dangerous to travel.

When you arrive in Panama City (virtually all international flights to Panama arrive in Panama City), the first thing you will do is buy a tourist card. This $5 document gives you permission to travel within the country for up to 90 days. Once you leave the airport, there are a variety of travel options to use: city buses, intercontinental buses, taxis, rental cars, planes, and boats.

  1. city ​​buses – The brightly painted buses of Panama City are almost tourist attractions in themselves. This is the cheapest form of transportation and also an interesting cultural experience. They are called Diablo Rojos, red devils. Expect them to be crowded and loud.
  2. intercity buses – The country has a well-developed bus system, similar to the Greyhound system in the US. For $30 you can travel from Panama City to San José, Costa Rica. If you show them you’re over 55 (with ID), you’ll pay $24. This is a great way to see the geographic beauty of Panama. Also, buses are typical forms of transportation to remote areas like Boquete.
  3. Cab- These distant relatives of the US taxi system are now all yellow and will sound their horns to alert potential passengers that they are available. Taxis are very reasonably priced and can even be hired by the hour or for trips to specific destinations.
  4. Rental cars – Many of the same companies that service the US are also in Panama. Rental car prices can be reasonable online, but very high at the office. The driving style in the country suggests that tourists to Panama be careful when renting cars and strongly consider purchasing insurance.
  5. planes – The country has a good regional service for Panamanian tourism. The rates are reasonable and the service connects the main destinations within the country, such as David, Bocas del Toro, Islas de las Perlas and Colón.
  6. boats – Along the coasts, there is some use of boats for Panama tourism, but this is not widespread. The boats are also not recommended for tourists traveling from Panama to Colombia due to security concerns at the border; only air travel is viable between these two countries.

Panama attractions

Panama is a country full of activities. Starting in Panama City with the ruins of the old city, the tropical jungle, the Panama Canal are an interesting visit. Throughout the country, Carnival (held near the end of February), numerous fairs, concerts, and traditional events dot the country. The country is a fan of its national baseball league and of Panamanians like Mariano Rivera who play in the major leagues. Soccer and basketball games are always available to enjoy and activities like swimming, surfing and fishing add to Panama’s tourist appeal for the sportsman. If you are a truly avid fisherman, take a charter to Panama’s Pacific “Tuna Coast”, where a host of world records in sport fishing have been set.

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