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Panama city is both the capital and economic
hub of Panama. The contrast between the beautiful modern
buildings and the old section,
"Casco Viejo", is indicative of
the Republic of Panama where both the old and the new give a
glimpse of the past with the conveniences offered by this modern
Panama has been in the top 5 places,
for 7 years for retirement in the world. Panama
has a dense skyline, including mostly apartment buildings, but
office complexes and hotels as well. Panama is an important hub
for international banking and commerce. It has an advanced
communications service, Internet use is widespread; and Panama's Tocumen International Airport offers daily flights to
Panama City is the capital and largest city of the
Republic of Panama. It is located at the Pacific entrance
of the Panama Canal. Panama is the political and administrative
center of the country.
Bridge of Americas in Panama
Viejo or Casco Antiguo, Panama
Casco Antiguo was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in
1998. After the first settlement was destroyed by diseases and
the attacks of pirates, being the last one and most remembered
one Henry Morgan, the city moved into a rocky peninsula that was
both healthier and easier to defend. In 1673 they founded what
today is called officially Casco Antiguo, but is also known as
San Felipe, Cathedral and more commonly, Casco Viejo.
Currently under a revitalization process, Casco Antiguo is a mix
of different architectural styles, which reflects the cultural
diversity of the country. Caribbean, Republican, Art Deco,
French and Colonial mix in a site of less than 800 buildings.
Most of Panama´s City´s main monuments are located in Casco
Antiguo: The Salón Bolivar, the main Cathedral (Catedral
Metropolitana), the National Theatre (founded in 1908), Las
Bovedas Monument, La Iglesia de La Merced, La Iglesia San Felipe
Neri, Iglesia San José with its distinctive Golden Altar, which
was saved from Panama La Vieja and transported into the new
The city has numerous tourist attractions including world-class
hotels and restaurants. Particularly interesting for tourists
are various sites located in the old quarter, commonly referred
Las Bóvedas, literally The Vaults, a waterfront promenade
jutting out into the Pacific. The National Institute of
Culture Building and across from it, the French Embassy.
Cathedral on Plaza de la Catedral Teatro Nacional, a recently
renovated performance center, with outstanding natural
acoustics; It provides an intimate performance environment and
seating for about 800 guests.
Museo del Canal Interoceánico.
Casco Viejo, seen from Cerro AncónThe area immediately east of
the Pacific entrance of the canal--known as the Amador Causeway
is currently being developed as a major tourist center.
Currently the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a
station and a small museum open to the public at
Culebra Point on the island of Naos. A new museum, The Bridge of
Life Museum, is currently under construction on the causeway.
The Bridge of Life Museum was designed by the American architect
Frank Gehry famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the
Disney Concert Center in Los Angeles and it is scheduled to be
completed in 2009.
Docks in Panama City
The city was founded on August 15, 1519, by
Pedro Arias de Ávila. Within years of its founding, the city
became a launching point for the exploration and conquest of
Peru and a transit point for gold and silver headed towards
Spain. In 1671, the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan, with the help of
a band of 1400 men, attacked and looted the city, which was
subsequently destroyed by fire. The ruins of the old city still
remain and are a popular tourist attraction known as Panamá la
Vieja (Old Panama). It was rebuilt in 1673 in a new location
approximately 5 miles southwest of the original city.
This location is now known as the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) of
Two years after the start of the California Gold Rush in 1848,
the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not
begin operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year
the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United
States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction.
That traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during
The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the
infrastructure and economy. Of particular note are the
improvements in health and sanitation brought about by the
American presence in the Canal Zone. These include the
eradication of yellow fever and malaria and the introduction of
a first-rate water supply system. However, most of the workers
involved in the construction of the canal were brought in from
the West Indies, which created unprecedented racial and social
tensions in the city.
During World War II, construction of military bases and the
presence of larger numbers of U.S. military and civilian
personnel brought about unprecedented levels of prosperity to
the city. Panamanians had limited access, or no
access at all, to many areas in the Canal Zone neighboring the
Panama metropolitan area. Some of these areas
were military bases accessible only to United States personnel.
Tensions arose between the people of Panama and the U.S.
citizens living in the Panama Canal Zone. This erupted in the
January 9, 1964 riots.
In the late 1970s through the 1980s Panama became an
international banking center, bringing a lot of undesirable
attention as an international money-laundering center. In 1989
after nearly a year of tension between the United States and
Panama, President George H. W. Bush ordered the invasion of
Panama to depose the leader of Panama, General Manuel Noriega.
As a result of the action a portion of the El Chorrillo, a
neighborhood which consisted mostly of old wood-framed buildings
dating back to the 1900s, was destroyed by fire. Eventually, the
U.S. helped finance the construction of large cinderblock
apartment buildings to replace the destroyed structures.
remains a major banking center, although with very visible
controls against money laundering. Shipping is handled through
port facilities in the area of Balboa operated by the Hutchison Whampoa Company of Hong Kong and through several ports on the
Caribbean side of the isthmus. Balboa, which is located within
the greater Panama metropolitan area, was formerly part of the
Panama Canal Zone, and in fact the administration of the former
Panama Canal Zone was headquartered there.
Panama City is located in the Pacific coast of Panama, east of
the Panama Canal. Panama has a rainy season that stretches from
May to December, and a dry season from January to April. Annual
temperatures range between 21 °C (70 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F)
Panama as a World Heritage Site
Panama La Vieja (Old Panama) is the name used for the
architectural vestiges of the Monumental Historic Complex of the
first Spanish city founded on the Pacific coast of the Americas
by Pedro Arias de Avila on 15 August 1519. This city was the
starting point of the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire
in Peru (1532). It also was a stopover point of one of the most
important trade routes in the history of he American continent
leading to the famous fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo
where most of the gold and Silver that Spain took from the
Americas passed through.
was the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the
Americas, in 1519, and the Historic District preserves intact a
street pattern, together with a substantial number of early
domestic buildings, which are exceptional testimony to the
nature of this early settlement. The Salón Bolivar is of
outstanding historical importance, as the venue for Simón
Bolivar's visionary attempt in 1826 to create a Pan-American
congress, more than a century before such institutions became a
The only example of true [urban revitalization] in the Panama,
[Casco Antiguo] is already the second touristic destination in
Panama City, second only to the
Panama Canal. Both government and private sectors are
actively participating not only in the restoration of the
architectural patrimony but also of the human patrimony,
investing in cultural industries and local entrepreneurship.
The entrance to the Metropolitan National Park Panama is located
between the Pacific Ocean and many tropical rain forests. The
Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Nature Park),
stretching from Panama along the Panama Canal, has several
unique bird species and other animals such as tapir, puma,
alligators, etc. At the Pacific entrance of the canal is the
Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas (Marine Exhibitions Center), a
research center for those interested in tropical marine life and
ecology. Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas is managed by the
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of
the Panama Canal. These forests provide the canal with the
watershed required for its operation (a rare example of a vast
engineering project in the middle of the forest which actually
helped preserve that very nature). Due to the importance of the
Canal to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the
canal have been kept in an almost pristine state. Along the
western side of the Canal is the Parque Nacional Soberania
(Sovereignty National Park) which includes Summit botanical
gardens and a zoo. In this national park, the best known trail
is the Pipeline Road, very popular among birdwatchers.
Downtown Panama, seen from the pier of the yacht club Panama
currently has more than 110 high-rise projects being
constructed, with 127 high-rise buildings already built. It
currently holds the 65th place in the world by high rise
The Centennial Bridge, that crosses the Panama Canal earned the
American Segmental Bridge Institute prize of excellence together
with 7 other bridges in the Americas.
Panama City has full access to electric service, potable water,
sewer lines, telephone, cable TV service, and internet service.
Telecommunications are very advanced after the privatization of
the national telecommunication company in the mid-1990s. Cell
phone service is also very accessible. Panama City has for years
boasted some of the cleanest, best-tasting water in the world.
Tap water quality is excellent throughout the City metropolitan
Panama offers good-quality medical care and modern hospitals in
the metropolitan area, however, the more isolated the location,
the harder it is to access these services. The hospitals offer
first-rate medical care. Many Panamanian doctors are U.S.
trained, and the standards at the top hospitals compare
favorably to those in the United States.
Panama counts 11 medical complexes. Around 45% of Panama
physicians are located in Panama City.
Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport
has two runways and is located on the eastern outskirts of the
city, is easily accessible. There are direct flights between
Tocumen and New York, Newark, Washington D.C., Los Angeles,
Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta,
Amsterdam, Madrid, and all major cities in the Caribbean area,
Central America and South America.
Panama City also has a
regional airport Marcos A. Gelabert, located in an area once
occupied by Albrook Air Force Base. Marcos A. Gelabert Airport
is the main hub for regional flights within Panama and the Pearl
Islands in the Pacific. Panama has an extensive and
efficient, yet confusing to tourists, form of public
transportation consisting of colorful painted buses colloquially
known as diablo rojo. A diablo rojo is usually "customized" or
painted with bright colors, usually depicting famous actors,
politicians or singers. It is now popular all over the city (and
also in neighboring towns) for bus drivers to personally
customize the interior and exterior of their diablo rojo. There
is also a bus terminal near the Marcos A. Gelabert airport which
together with the airport serves as the main transport hub for
the rest of the country. Panama City's only transportation
problem includes frequent traffic jams due to the high levels of
private transport ownership.
Panama Province Map
of Panama City