Central America: The canal and beyond in Panama

Panama City: History buffs will enjoy the stone ruins of 16th century Panama Viejo (Old Panama) and Casco Viejo (Colonial Panama).

The Canal: The primary view of the Panama Canal is from the visitors' platform at Miraflores Locks, where ships are lowered to the level of the Pacific Ocean or begin their journey through the canal by being raised in two stages.

San Blas Islands: Inhabited for centuries by the Kuna Indians, known for the colorful mola appliques they wear and sell, the islands also offer swimming off white-sand beaches and snorkeling along coral reefs.

Chiriqui Province: David is the city gateway to the highlands where orchids grow in profusion and visitors come to hike, fish or go horseback riding.

Darien Jungle: Travelers can take a dugout canoe ride to visit the Chochoe-Embera Indians on the jungle's edge; those in tiptop condition can hike across the Darien between the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Panama Fast Facts
  • Capital city: Panama City
  • Area: 29,856 square miles (approximate size of South Carolina)
  • Population: 2.7 million
  • Language: Spanish; English widely spoken
  • Entry documents: Valid passport, tourist card issued on arrival ($2)
  • Currency: Balboa
  • Local time: Eastern Standard (Greenwich Mean Time -5)
  • International phone code: 507
  • Recommended guidebook: Panama by Scott Doggett, Lonely Planet
  • Information: Panama Tourism Bureau: (800) 557-0017, in Miami (305) 857-0130
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