Panama: A World-Famous Isthmus
Once upon a time people knew about the Panama Canal yet not much else about this small country. In recent years, Panama has become an ideal destination for many foreigners thanks to its democratic and stable government and growing economy with its focus on trade, international banking, real estate development and tourism.
Located in one of the most strategic places on the planet, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are only 48 miles apart, this Isthmus is indeed the center of the world. People from all walks of life–surfers, backpackers, sailers, business people, expats, entrepreneurs and celebrities– have a keen interest in Panama. Many of the people, for various reasons, have ultimately decided to settle here.
This world famous Isthmus is the bridge that connects Cental America with South America. Costa Rica is on the west side and Columbia on its east side.
Flying into Panama City may surprise you because the skyline rivals that of Manhattan. The capital city, a sophisticated metropolis, is growing rapidly. Its skyline is full of contemporary high-rise offices, waterfront luxury apartment towers, five-star hotels, and commercial centers as well as the bright lights of restaurants, art galleries, salsa clubs and entertainment of all kinds.
A favorite tourist and expat neighborhood is Casco Viejo, a UNESCO Heritage site, with a unique blend of colonial architecture. This neighborhood harbors some fantastic old churches, museums, theaters, palaces, landmarks and parks. Revitalization has been occurring one building at a time during the past decade. It may remind you of New Orleans because of the balconies with bougainvillea flowers hanging down in bright colors. Once in decline with dilapidated apartments and ancient ruins, the renovation of properties now include chic boutique hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, sidewalk cafes, art galleries, delicatessens, pharmacies and real estate companies as well as personal residences.
If you want to be located near the capital but on the beach, about one and half hour drive are some beach towns. One of the most popular of these for North American expats is Coronado. It has a golf course, equestrian center, beaches and shopping malls.
A further drive takes you to the Heart and Soul of Panama, the Azuero Peninsula to the towns where some of the traditional and popular festivals are held. A town poised for growth is the fishing village of Pedasi with its charming town plaza, church, small hotels, a few restaurants and tranquil family atmosphere. Nearby are world class surfing waves at Playa Venao.
A 10- minute boat ride will take tourists to Isla de Tortuga, where you can fish, snorkel, dive, paddle and enjoy a picnic on its uncrowded beaches.
Tremendous investments have been made into the infrastructure in and around Pedasi, with luxury oceanfront developments, discerning residential style hotels that fit into the character and charm of the local architecture, and there are plans for a grocery store, pharmacy and car rental agency.
One of the highest ranking retirement hotspots in Latin America is the mountain town of Boquete. Situated in Chiriqui Province overlooked by Volcan Baru, Boquete sits in a lush green environment surrounded by lush vegetation, forests, flowers, hills and mountains. For people who can’t take the hot tropical climate, this region is known as “The Land of Eternal Spring” because of it’s year round ideal perfect temperatures averaging 72º F.
For a cultural experience, visit the pristine San Blas Islands in Kuna Yala Territory. A spectacular chain of 360 islands on the Caribbean side are owned by the industrious and shy Kuna Indians.
Host Brian Gill with Kuna Natalia (and her crab) while camping out on a remote San Blas island.
This small country is a treasure chest full of bio-diverse environments and micro-climates, and incredible landscapes. The beaches and thousands of islands on both coasts are world-renowned and home to several native tribes that still thrive today.
No where on earth will you find the combination of a modern city and just steps away, a vast wilderness, that is home to the most unique and ecologically rich fora and fauna on earth–a virtual eco-playground.
Panama’s most valued asset is its people, a true melting pot of cheerful and sincere individuals who warmly welcome you.