We visited Panama as part of our big trip around Latin America, celebrating Stefan’s birthday at the gorgeous Bocas del Toro.
Panama is the most southern of the Central Latin American group of countries, sitting just above Colombia. Interestingly, it is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic. Also, the famous canal generates one-third of the country’s entire economy (as does the massive US expat population living there!) We’ve put together our 5 favourite interesting facts about Panama you need to know to give you a flavour for this fascinating tropical Central American country.
The Panama canal
The Panama Canal is an engineering marvel. It was initially built by the French in the late 1800s and then completed by the Americans until formally opened on 15 August 1914.
The Canal is a 50 miles (80km) waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Vessels take around 8-10 hours to cross it. It has 3 locks, each with 2 lanes. The easiest to visit is the Mira Flores lock in Panama City, which has also been turned into a visitor center.
At the Mira Flores visitor center you can see the canal live in action: ship comes in, pays the toll, waits, water drains out to lower ship to sea level, canal doors open and ship continues on its way.