Location: Panama is the southernmost country in Central America, bordering with Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east.
Size: 28,640 sq. miles (74.177 km), about the size of South Carolina.
Capital City: Panama City
Population: Almost four million. Most of the population is a mix of Spanish-Indians and Black-Hispanic ancestry. Today, only 6% of the population is Amerindian, mostly Kuna, Choco, and Guayami.
Language: Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in tourist areas.
Currency: Panama uses the US dollar as currency. The official name for it is the Balboa, but it is exactly the same bill and people use the term dollar and Balboa interchangeably. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, stores, and upscale restaurants in Panama City. Outside the capital city, cash may be necessary.
Entry requirements: US, Canadian, Australian, and EU citizens do not need visas for stays of up to 180 days. If arriving by sea (except via cruise ship), there is a US$110 charge per person for passengers and crew members. If you are entering Panama by land, make sure to get an exit visa and a Panama entry visa stamped on your passport.
Driver’s license: Visitors may drive with international licenses for up to 90 days during their visit.
Shopping: For many people, Panama provides the best shopping south of Miami. The international atmosphere brings excellent prices and an extensive selection of goods to the many duty-free stores. Panama’s ethnic diversity allows for a variety of traditional products, including woodcarvings, weaving and textiles, ceramics, straw goods and many other handicrafts. The hand-stitched appliqué textiles made by the Kuna Indians, called Molas, are one of the most popular souvenirs.
Weather: Overall Panama has a tropical climate. Rain falls sporadically throughout the dry season, January through April. The rainy season extends from May through December, with the heaviest rainfall between September and November. The average temperature in Panama City is 80°F. The province of Chiriqui is colder due to its higher altitude with temperatures ranging in the mid 60s to mid 70s
Local Time: UTC-5 hours
Calling code: 507
Religion: More than 90% of Panamanians are Roman Catholic.
National Public Holidays:
Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Jan 9: Martyr’s Day
Easter Week: Varies every year
May 1: Labor Day
Oct 21: Festival of the Black Christ in Portobelo
Nov 3: Independence Day: Commemorates Panama’s independence from Colombia.
Nov 5: Flag Day / Colon Day
Nov 10: First announcement of Independence from Spain
Dec 8: Mothers’ Day
Dec 25: Christmas Day
Dec 31: New Year’s Eve