10 Fun Facts about Panama, The Central American Country Connecting Two Oceans

Rosario Traducciones continues its tour of Latin America in another edition of #ElEspañolEnElMundo. This month we explore the country with one of the most important shipping canals in the world.

Do you need to communicate with a Latin American audience? Are you exporting or selling your products and services to Spanish-speaking countries? Rosario Traducciones y Servicios SA invites you to join us on a virtual linguistic tour through the different countries of Latin America, as we explore their diversity and cultural richness. This month we travel to Panama, where you can find modern cities, white-sand beaches, and virgin rainforests.

1) Sunrise on the West, Sunset on the East

Panama is located on the isthmus linking Central and South America, with the Caribbean Sea to the North and the Pacific Ocean to the South. Because of its S-shape and location between the Caribbean and Pacific, Panama has the distinction of being the only place on earth where people can watch the sun rise in the Pacific and set in the Atlantic..

 

2) The Urban Jungle

Panama is the only country in the world where the capital city is just ten minutes away from the surrounding rainforest. There is a National Park inside Panama City. A few minutes away from the downtown area, Parque Natural Metropolitano is home to 284 kinds of trees, over 250 birds species, 45 mammals species , and 50 reptiles and amphibians species. Several national parks have been declared biosphere reserves and are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, including Darién National Park, La Amistad National Park, and Coiba National Park. About 30% of the national territory has abundance of natural reserves.

 

3) The Panama Hat is not Panamanian

Surprisingly and contrary to what many believe, the famous Panama hat is not from Panama. The traditional brimmed hats made of toquilla straw originally came from Ecuador and arrived in Panama on ships on their way to be distributed around the world. The popular hat is named after the place it was initially sold in, and not its place of origin. 

4) The Largest Free Trade Zone in America

The famous “Zona Libre de Colón” is located a few kilometers from the Panama Canal, in the province of Colón. It is the largest tax-free zone in the Americas and the second largest in the world. Over 3000 companies are either represented or operate within the 1,065-acre complex, with a yearly turnover of USD 19 billion in imports and exports.

 

5) The Golden Frog, a National Symbol

The Panamanian golden frog is a tiny, brightly colored, toad-like frog native to the native rainforest. It is also poisonous. On the verge of extinction, they are the national symbol and have been revered as good-luck charms since pre-Columbian times. Native people used to craft frog images in gold and clay talismans called huacas.

6) Home to a Large Variety of Birds

Despite its small size, Panama is home to 976 bird species, more than in the United States and Canada combined. Panama is a transit route for many migratory species and its coasts are home to Atlantic and Pacific seabirds, which account for the great diversity and number of birds.

 

7) A World Engineering Wonder

Built between 1904 and 1914 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Panama Canal is one of the world's greatest engineering achievements. The canal consists of a system of blocks that lifts vessels 26 meters above sea level on a 77 kilometer long journey. Since its opening, more than one million ships have crossed the canal. Approximately 14,000 boats cross it every year.

8) First Country to Have an Interoceanic Railway

Panama was the first country in the world to operate an interoceanic railway. Opened in 1855, it was built by the United States in response to the large increase in passenger and freight traffic from eastern United States to California following the 1849 California Gold Rush.

9) The Largest Volcanic Crater

Located just two hours from Panama City, the Anton Valley is one of the largest populated volcanic craters in the world. Due to its pleasant and cool climate, it is an ideal place for hiking, climbing, horseback riding and bird watching.

 

10) A Month-Long Celebration of Independence

Known as the Month of the Homeland, November is a time of celebration in Panama. In a 30.day period, the country have five very special festivities. November 3 is known as Separation Day, marking Panama's independence from Colombia in 1903. Flag day is on November 4, celebrated with great fanfare, music, and parades. Colon Day, on November, marks the liberation of the city and port of Colon, on the north shore of Panama’s Caribbean coast. November 10 celebrates the First Cry for Independence, which commemorates the beginning of the independence battle with Spain. Panama's independence from Spain in 1821, is celebrated on November 28.