For many years, Panama remained off the radar of international travelers and investors, but those days have come to an end—Panama has come into its own. Panama now receives about 2 million visitors a year, quite impressive for a tiny country of just under 4 million people. Panama has undergone a major boom since the mid-2000s, with new retirement communities, restaurants, and hotels breaking ground practically every week. Prices and speculation have appeared to stabilize, though it‘s still very much a country on the rise. Escaping much of the tourism boom all too familiar to Costa Rica, likely because of the Noriega years, Panama is proudly making a name for itself as a must- see destination in Latin America.
Rapidly emerging from Costa Rica’s shadow, Panama’s geography is similar to that of its neighbor to the north, including pristine rainforests, attractive beaches, mountain villages, and, as an added bonus, a vibrant, cosmopolitan city many compare to Miami. Traveling isn’t as dirt-cheap as it was a decade ago, but Panama is still less expensive than Costa Rica.
Panama claims a history rich with Spanish conquistadores and colonists, pirates, gold miners and adventurers, canal engineering, international trade, and mass immigration from countries as close as Jamaica and as far away as China. The pastiche of European and African cultures blended with the country’s seven indigenous groups has had a tangible effect on Panama’s architecture, cuisine, language, and folklore. And now that the dust has long settled after the infamous Noriega era, political stability has taken hold and offers hope for the country’s future.
Given Panama’s compact size and diversity, visitors here can take part in wildly different experiences without having to travel very far. The growing expat and retirement community, as well as the large number of Chinese, Colombian, and Venezuelan immigrants, make Panama a fascinating country to visit. These pages will help you understand a little more about Panama’s history, people, and culture.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.