Panama Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, Panama City tourist information, Panama food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in Panama City Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Full country name: Republic of Panama
Area: 75,420 sq km
Population: 3,36 million (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: Panama City
Language: Spanish (official), English 14%; note - many Panamanians bilingual
Religion: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
Government: Constitutional democracy
Time Zone: UTC-5
Dialing Code: 507
Electricity: 110V* 60 Hz (*Panama City 120V)
Weights & measures: The metric system is the official unit of measurement in Panama. However, many units of the English system, such as pounds, ounces, gallons, inches, and yards, are still used.

Money & Costs:
Currency: balboa (PAB) (official); US dollar (USD)
Average Yearly Salary: USD 12,100

Budget: USD2-5
Mid-range: USD5-10
High: USD15+
Budget: USD6-15
Mid-range: USD30-60
High: USD60+

Geography: The Republic of Panama is the southernmost country of Central America. The country borders Costa Rica, Colombia, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The dominant feature of the country's landscape is the central spine of hills and mountains that forms the continental divide. The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the border of Costa Rica. A nearly impenetrable jungle forms the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia.

Climate: Panama has a tropical climate, with two distinct seasons: a dry one and a rainy one. Variations depend on the altitude and the region. It rains year round in the Caribbean coast, whereas the Pacific coast has a more vivid dry season. The Azuero Peninsula has an extremely arid climate during the dry season, whereas the mountainous regions get plentiful rain during the wet season (May - November). Summer, the dry season, lasts from December to April. March and April are considered to be the hottest months of the year.

Recommended clothing: Lightweight summer clothing is recommended throughout the year. If your are going to the highlands, a sweater may be required, since it can get quite chilly. Rainwear is essential during the rainy season. You may want loose clothes, as it is hot and muggy in Panama.

Health: There are many modern private medical facilities in Panama, and according to current legislation covering sanitary matters, Panama offers health care treatment to all nationals and foreign travelers who may require them, however, you should still take out travel health insurance.

Food & Drink: The cuisine of Panama is unique and rich in locally grown food. Since Panama is a land bridge between two continents, it has an unusual variety of tropical fruit, vegetables and herbs. Panamanian cuisine is also highly influenced and is a mix of African, Spanish and Native American dishes, that reflect the traditions and cultural aspects of the nations. Generally, the dishes are mildly flavored, with the most common seasoning being culantro. The most popular ingredients used in Panamanian cooking are: rice, wheat flour, maize, plantains, beef, yuca (cassava), and chicken. Seafood is also very popular, including shrimp, corvina, and lobster. Tap water, at least in bigger cities, is considered safe to drink, but bottled water is also widely available. There are various beer brands in Panama, such as: Cerveza, Atlas, Balboa, and Soberana. It is also very cheep, about $0.35 US in the supermarket, and about $1.00 in restaurants. You should also try some Panama seco, a fermented sugar cane liquor.

Public Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 9 *National Martyrs' Day
Varies between Mar 22 & Apr 25 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
Aug 15 Old Panama City Day (Panama City only)
Nov 3 Independence Day (from Colombia)
Nov 5 Independence Day (Coin City only)
Nov 10 First Call for Independence from Spain
Nov 28 *Independence Day (from Spain)
Dec 8 Mothers' Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
* Where these public holidays fall mid-week, the following Monday will be observed as a holiday.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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