Panama – Central America - The Traveller


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Panama – Central America

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Panama - Isthmus forming Land Bridge for Central & North America

Panama officially the Republic of Panama is the southernmost country of Central America and entire North America. Located on the isthmus which forms the land bridge joining North and South America, it has Costa Rica to its west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to its north with the Pacific Ocean to the south and its capital is the Panama City. It controls the Panama Canal which is one of the most important shipping links in the world, connecting the North Atlantic Ocean through the Caribbean Sea with the North Pacific Ocean.

Panama is somewhat smaller than South Carolina and is marked with chains of mountains in the west with moderate hills in the interior together with a low range towards the east coast. It has extensive forests in the fertile Caribbean area. The revenue received from canal tolls contributesto a significant portion of Panama’s GDP and it is the second largest economy in Central America. Besides this it is also the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America. Panama also ranked 5th among Latin American countries in 2013, with regards to the Human Development Index and 59th in the world. Moreover it ranks as the second most competitive economy in Latin America since 2010, as per the Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum.

Panama City – Modern/Sophisticated Metropolis

Panama has abundance of tropical plants and is a home to several animals and birds, some of which are very rare and not found anywhere else in the world. The comfort of travelling together with a variety of experiences has made Panama one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world wherein visitor can have the opportunity of enjoying two different oceans, get the experience of the mountains and rainforest, and get to know about native culture as well as the vibrant urban life.

The Panama City is a sophisticated, modern metropolis which resembles Miami, with established art, commerce and fashion together with dining Fodors. National Geographic and Frommers have lately started publishing guides for Panama, which is the second country in Central America after Costa Rica, having such large travel coverage.

Crossroads of the Americas

Panama is also known as the Crossroads of the Americas which is because of its position between the North and South America. There are several theories about the origin name of Panama. According to some, the country seemed to be named after a commonly found species of trees while others believed that the first settlers came to Panama in August when there were plenty of butterflies around and that the name meant many butterflies in their language.

 The best version known is about a fishing village and its nearby beach had the name Panama which meant `Abundance of fish’, the indigenous meaning of the country’s name shows Panama’s reputation as a paradise for both eco tourist as wells as water sports enthusiasts. Panama’s flora and fauna is very diverse with over 900 different bird species.

Combining all the three versions, Panamanians’ belief in general was that the word Panama meant `abundance of fish trees and butterflies and is the official definition which is given in social studies textbooks with the approval of the Ministry of Education in Panama though there are others who believe that the word Panama is derived from the Kuna word `bannaba’, meaning `distant’ or `far away’.

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