Panama, Central America
It's more than a canal.... much more.
Panama is a country of matchless beauty, with a diversity in
flora, fauna and indigenous groups living peacefully in natural harmony
with nature which makes it one of the most important places for ecological
tourism inthe Americas. What you find in Panama depends on what you are
looking for. Look what Vasco Nunez de Balboa found in Panama - the
Fronting two oceans, Panama offers a connoisseur's choice of beaches, both on the mainland and on islands just offshore. Contadora, Taboga, Isla Grande and San Blas are the most visited islands with beautiful beaches.
Panama has abundant natural assets with a variety of ecosystems. Worldwide flora includes more than 30,000 species and in Panama we find more than 50% of them. The most abundant are the orchids, with more than 120 kinds and 1,200 species. Birds also represent a rich eco-tourism potential with 933 reported species.
Centuries before the Canal was built, Panama was already the "Crossroads of the World". Products from the most distant and exotic countries found their way here, and still do. Nowadays the latest in electronic and audio-video equipment, clothing, perfumes and cosmetics are available in abundance.
Panama has a fascinating past, a history rich in legends and a "a melting pot of races" descended from Spanish Conquistadores, Negroes, Indians, Chinese,and Mestizos. In your travels around the city, you can appreciate four hundred years of history, from the ruins of the first city in Panama, destroyed by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan to the modern day.
The Panama Canal - "the greatest engineering work of the world"
Some interesting facts :
A ship traveling from New York to San Francisco can save 7,872 miles using the Panama Canal
instead of going around South America.
In the fiscal year 1994 there
were 14,029 transits, which carried 170.8 million long tons of cargo and
paid US $ 419.2 million in tolls.
The highest Canal toll was US $ 141,344.91 paid by the Crown Princess
and the lowest toll ever paid was 36 cents by Richard Halliburton for
swimming the Canal in 1928.
The average time spent in transit from port to port is approx.
8 - 10 hours.
Until Lake Mead was formed by
the building of the Hoover Dam, Gatun Lake was the largest artificial
body of water in the world.
Language : Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken in business, banking, retail and international communities and tourist related business.
Currency : The currency is the "Balboa" which is the same value as the US dollar. The US dollar is legal tender in Panama, which does not print bank notes ( US dollar notes are used ) but only mint its own coins.
Climate : Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures are around 80 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit ( 25 - 30 Celsius ) and humidity is always high. There are only two seasons, the dry season from December to April and the rainy season from May to the end of the year.
Electricity : 120V 60 Cycles in all parts of the country.
Time Zone : Panama is in Eastern Standard Time Zone (five hours behind GMT)
Population : Around 2.4 million.
Political System : A democratic independent republic.
Highest point : Volcan Baru 3475 m.
Bordering countries : Colombia and Costa Rica.
Useful Telephone Numbers :
Tourist Information : IPAT Tel. (507) 226 70 00
Tocumen International Airport : Tel.(507) 238 43 22
American Express Tel. : (507) 263 58 58
VISA Tel.: (507) 264 09 88
Master Card Tel.: (507) 263 52 21
Diners Tel.: (507) 263 81 95
Getting around Panama
Taxis: In Panama City fares are based on a zoning system. A driver must show his zoned map of the city if you challenge his charge. Regular taxis charge you around $ 1.25 to $ 2.00 depending on how many zones you are crossing. Between Tocfsumen Airport and Panama City (Aprox. 40 minutes drive) the official rate is $ 8.00 per person if you share a cab with upto four others or $ 20.00 if you want the car to yourself. To Colon the rate is $ 60.00 for 1 to 4 people, one way.
Domestic Airlines: Fly from mid-city Paitilla Airport with scheduled flights to all parts of the country.
Aeroperlas : Tel (507) 269 45 55 serve Contadora, David, Colon, Bocas del Toro, Changuinola, Puerto Armuelles, Chitré, Santiago, La Palma, El Real, Jaqué, Garachiné, Sambú.
AeroTaxi : Tel. (507)264 86 44 and ANSA : Tel. 226 78 91 serve San Blas.
Buses : Buses are available to most destinations in Panama.
Car Rentals : Most major car rental companies are present in Panama.
AVIS : Tel. (507) 264 07 22
BUDGET RENT A CAR : Tel.(507) 263 87 77
DOLLAR : Tel. (507) 225 40 77
HERTZ : Tel. (507) 264 11 11
INTERNATIONAL : Tel. (507) 264 45 40
NATIONAL : Tel. (507) 264 82 77
THRIFTY : Tel. (507) 264 26 13
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