HISTORY OF PANAMA
Panama has played a major role in global history going back three million years. The geologic formation of the Isthmus altered the flow of ocean currents, which changed the course of human history. The creation of the Jet Stream caused the continent of Africa to become arid, which forced our prehistoric ancestors to leave their tree habitats and forage on the ground.
With its unique geographic location, Panama has been the crossroads of the Western Hemisphere for flora, fauna and human activity. Indigenous peoples first populated the area at least 10,000 years ago and produced some of the first pottery in the Americas.
Discovered by the Spanish in 1501, the first permanent settlement on the Americas mainland was in Panama in 1510, followed by the discovery of the Pacific in 1513 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa. In 1523, Spanish King Charles V suggested cutting a canal to connect the two bodies of water. That dream was realized in 1914 with the opening of the Panama Canal.
Today Panama, one of the major shipping ports in the world, has a population of over 3 million people, of which half live in the thriving metropolis of Panama City. Due to its importance to global commerce, it is a shoppers’ paradise. World-class medical care is readily available here at greatly reduced prices and an abundance of restaurants represent almost every country and ethnicity in the world.
There are numerous expat social groups and the US Dollar is the local currency. Panama also has one of the most generous retirement programs world-wide. Retirees to Panama can obtain a Retiree Visa, locally known as a “Jubilado” or “Pensionado” Visa, which entitles holders to discounts of 30-50% on hotels, 25% on travel both domestic and international, 15% on health care and prescriptions, 15-25% on restaurants, 50% on movies and theater productions and more.
Panama has some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet with more bird species than all of North America and Europe combined. Flowers are in abundance registering 12,000 orchids species alone. More sport fishing world records have been broken in Panama than in any other country, and it is one of the few locations globally where whales from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres come to breed and give birth.
The country is blessed with a tropical climate with daily highs of 25-30 degrees Celsius (80-90 degrees Fahrenheit). Panama is below the hurricane zone making it a global destination for safe yachting anchorage. Only 50 miles separate the Caribbean and Pacific and the Panama Canal and train service makes both easily accessible. With thousands of kilometers of beach front, and a mountain range in between topping out at over 3,400 meters (11,300’), there is every type of tropical landscape to be enjoyed.