Guna Yala is an indigenous territory in Panama, inhabited by the Guna ethnicity. Formerly the area was called San Blas until 1998 and as Guna Yala until 2010. Its capital is El Porvenir. Bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea, on the south by the province of Darien and the Panama province, Colombia on the east and on the west by the Colon province.
Guna Yala means “Land Guna” or “Mountain Guna” in Guna. The area was formerly known as San Blas, along with the native name of Kuna Yala, but was changed in October 2011 when the Government of Panama recognized the claim of the people Guna in his mother tongue was not equivalent to the letter “K” and that the official name should be “Guna Yala”.
Guna natives are famous for their molas: the mola is a traditional form of textile art, they are sewn into panels with complex and multiple layers using a reverse appliqué technique designs and are available in the islands. In the language guna (dulegaya), mola means “clothing” or “blouse”.
The molas originated with the tradition of the Guna woman painting their bodies with geometric designs, using the natural colors available. After Spanish colonization and subsequent contact with missionaries, the Gunas began to transfer their traditional geometric designs onto canvas, first by painting them directly, then using the reverse applied technique. It is not known with certainty when this technique was first used. They assume that the oldest molas are between 150 and 170 years old. In addition to their geometric inspiration, the gunas in the last 50 years began to create realistic and abstract designs of flowers, animals, birds and the sea.
Established in 1938 as an autonomous indigenous territory, the Guna Yala territory, with its simple beauty, unique and exceptional island culture, and ancient forests, offers an incredible destination away from the vast majority of tourists. Renting a sailboat is a different way to discover the archipelago.
The best way to discover this archipelago is the sailing cruise that we offer with 100% Gunas crews! (see our other site)