Easy travel and a wide range of experiences make Panama one of the world’s most attractive emerging destinations. In just one week, visitors can enjoy two oceans, explore the mountains and rainforest, learn about indigenous cultures and enjoy the vibrant city life. The capital Panama City is a modern, sophisticated metropolis reminiscent of Miami, where commerce, art, fashion and restaurants are well established.
Panama is known as the “Crossroads of the Americas” because of its privileged location between North and South America. The indigenous meaning of the country’s name, “abundance of fish”, reflects Panama’s reputation as a paradise for water sports enthusiasts and ecotourists. As an isthmus connecting two vast continents, Panama’s flora and fauna are incredibly diverse. For example, Panama was named the country with the most bird species in the world: over 900. Panama’s many indigenous tribes still live as their ancestors did, making the country’s cultural fabric exceptionally rich.
Panama’s government has close ties with the United States and is a strong promoter of business, development and tourism. The International Monetary Fund praises the country’s diversified economy and predicts that it will have one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world in the coming years. Panama is known for its highly developed international banking sector, where some 80 banks from several countries have established local branches, including HSBC, BBVA and Citi Bank. The canal, which is currently being expanded, continues to boost Panama’s service-based economy and remains one of the world’s most important transport links. In addition to the country’s strong economic base, Panama’s physical infrastructure, including hospitals, airports and modern roads, is much more developed than that of its Central American neighbours.
Panama has a large expatriate community; about 25,000 American citizens live in the country. It is worth spending some time exploring Panama and interacting with locals, expats and other travellers before arriving in the country. Consider joining local expat forums or blogs or the Central America Forum. Many local blogs can give you the latest information on floods, earthquakes, trail closures and the best restaurants.
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