General Information

Located between Central and South America, Panama covers 75,517 km2 and is bordered both by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea – only 50 miles separate the two oceans.     
Limits: Panama´s limits to the north with the Caribbean Sea, to the south with the Pacific Ocean, to the east with the Republic of Colombia and to the west with the Republic of Costa Rica.
Borders: There are 555 km in total distance between the borders; there are 225 km in the border with Colombia and 330 km in the border with Costa Rica.
Coasts: There are 2,490 km of coastal region.
Flag: The Panamanian flag’s colors represent the two political parties of Panama, the Liberals (red) and the Conservatives (blue). The white symbolizes peace between them and the equal division of the colors states that they both govern the country at different times. The colors of the Panamanian flag also have alternative meanings. The blue represents the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea and red stands for the blood spilt for Panama’s independence. The blue star represents the civic virtues of purity and honesty and the red star symbolizes the authority of the law. Together they represent loyalty and resilience.


National Motto: ‘For the Benefit of the World’ (Pro Mundi Beneficio) which refers to the Panama Canal.
Government: Panama is a democratically elected Republic and elections are held every four years.

Driver’s license: Visitors may drive with international licenses for 90 days during their visit.

Electricity: 110 volts; 60 cycles.

Dress: It is recommended wearing very light dresses due to the tropical climate. Business in Panama is very formal and most business men wear suits but tourists and citizens usually wear very comfortable shorts, short sleeve shirts and similar.

Taxes: All shopping have a 7% tax called the ITBMS (=VTA).

This excludes medicine, food (take away) and school supplies.

Tipping: Tipping in restaurants and bars is usually 10%. Tips are generally included in the bill; you may want to remove it from the bill and tip personally your tender: this is your absolute right!  We recommend behaving that way because too many restaurants owners do not restitute the tip to their employees!

Commerce: Generally most shops and commercial operations open between 8 and 9 AM and close around 6 PM in the afternoon. Most open Mondays to Saturdays. Entertainment venues are usually open until later times and most restaurants open on Sundays.

Spanish is the official language, but English is also widely spoken. The Isthmus of Panama, a physical and cultural link between two countries, is well-known for its canal. However, it also offers one of the finest eco-tourist experiences in the world.

Panama is a stable, democratic and independent Republic but also the world’s 5th largest International banking center and Colon is the second free zone in the world. However, some areas are kept away from this growth and show few trace of the modern civilization.

Panama City is a blend of modern (with an unbelievable expansion) and ancient architecture, with old quarters (Casco Antiguo is considered world heritage) and also with the ruins of the old city before it was destroyed by Captain Morgan (Panama la Vieja).

The Canal is a sightseeing highlight and not to be missed: we offer visits to the famous locks as well as shared or private Panama Canal Transit aboard motor yachts or even sailing catamarans.

There is much to see in Panama: the local folklore and the independent territories of several indigenous communities , something unique & inescapable in Central America.

Panama is a well preserved paradise for eco-tourism, away from massive tourism. Biodiversity is 50% greater than Costa Rica and forests are 10 times larger with 450 migrating bird species(more than from Portugal to the Aural).  Famous Barro Colorado Study Center on the Gatun Lake is a really interesting place to visit

The U.S. Dollar has been legal tender since 1904 (though officially its Panamanian name is “balboa”). All major credit cards are accepted (so do we)and there are numerous ATMs all over the country. Euros can be changed in most banks of the country

Important: visitors must always have their passport with them (or a copy of it including the entry stamp)! 


Weather

Panama has a tropical weather. The country is outside the hurricanes & storms track.

TWO MAIN SEASONS PREVAIL

The dry season starts in mid December & ends in the first days of May:  the trade winds (North / East) are blowing a cool air & the sky carries light cumulus clouds. It almost doesn’t rain. Air & sea visibility are reduced by the wind effects. This is the high season for tourism while it’s winter in the northern part of the northern hemisphere.

Temperatures from 82F to 95F (27 to 35 Celsius)

The green season prevail the rest of the year: winds are milder and there are scattered showers. Humidity is higher, air and water visibility is better.  This is the best time frame to discover Panama’s “mother nature “and wildlife but also to enjoy the best touristic spots.

Temperatures from 77F to 97F (25 to 36 Celsius)

This balance between the 2 seasons can be affected during “el niño” or “la niña” years.