If you know anything at all about Panama, you’re likely aware that it’s tropical, has amazing beaches and cool mountain locations, and is a great place to take up a second residence.
Here are 20 lesser known facts that show why this popular expat destination is worth a second look, whether merely for a visit or as a potential place to start the next chapter of your life.
- Panama contains the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic…from the same spot! At the country’s narrowest point, only 80 kilometers separates the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean.
- Panama City, the nation’s capital and largest city, is the only capital city in the world that has a rain forest within its city limits.
- The total population of Panama is around 3.6 million with 1.5 million of those living in Panama city.
- The official language of Panama is Spanish, but English is widely spoken. More so in the urban vs. the rural areas.
- Panama celebrates two independence days, the first from Spain in 1821 and the second from Colombia 82 years later in 1903.
- Panama was the very first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
- Major driver’s of Panama’s economy include cargo ships, the exportation of refined petroleum, and tourism.
- The Panama Canal was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. It’s considered one of the seven modern World Wonders.
- More than 12,000 people died in the construction of the Panama Railroad.
- Panama is located south of the hurricane alley, so it is rarely affected by tropical storms or hurricanes.
- Panama is home to 10,000 different plants species, including 1,400 varieties of orchids, 678 ferns, and more than 1,500 varieties of trees.
- There are two basic seasons in Panama: the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to November.
- Panama has more than 976 bird species, which is more than the United States and Canada combined.
- All vessels going through Panama Canal have to pay a toll. The toll is based on the type of vessel, its size, and its cargo. The highest toll ever paid was $376,000 by the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship in 2010.
- Panama grows some of the world’s finest coffee, which can be tasted at Starbucks and other coffee houses worldwide.
- At 11,397 feet, the highest elevation in Panama is Volcán Barú, which is located near Boquete.
- Panama has the second-largest duty-free zone in the world, the Colon Free Zone, second in size only to Hong Kong.
- For a relatively small country, Panama boasts many miles of pristine beaches, with more than 1,500 miles (2,490 kilometers) of shoreline.
- The Panamanian constitution gives foreigners and citizens the same right to own property.
- The Panama Hat actually originated in Ecuador.
- Senator John McCain was born in Panama, in the Canal Zone which was at that time considered U.S. Territory.
- Panama has a 100% tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 80-90 degrees.
Want to learn more about Panama? You should check this incredible destination out for yourself!