fun facts about panama

Unveiling 20 Fun Facts About Panama: Interesting Revelations

From hats to sunrises, there is a lot to talk about on the subject of Panama. Whether you’re planning a trip to this amazing country or simply want to learn more about it, this list of fun facts about Panama is just what you need.

In this guide, we bring you all the fun and interesting facts about Panama that will surely make you want to put it on your list of places to visit. Curious about what makes Panama so enchanting? Let’s dive right in!

20 Fun Facts About Panama


1. The Real Origin of Panama Hats

A symbol of pride for Panamanians, these traditional hats are made of straw. While they’re now primarily associated with Panama, they actually originated in Ecuador.

It is suggested that the hats were introduced into the region when Americans crossed the islands during the California Gold Rush. Later, the workers on the construction of the Panama Canal wore hats to protect against the sun.

In the mid-1800s, the hat was showcased at the World Fair in Paris. This was likely when the Panama hat went from being a simple accessory to a status symbol for the elite. In 1904, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was photographed wearing a Panama hat during one of his visits to the construction site.

2. An Engineering Marvel: The Panama Canal

One of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama. It was built between 1904 and 1914 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is used by more than 10,000 ships every year. This waterway connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and is vital to international trade.

What’s more? The revenue generated by the Panama Canal makes up a third of the country’s entire economy.

3. Panama Sunrises and Sunsets

Panama is where you want to go if you’re all about seeing extraordinary natural phenomena. This small tropical country is the only place in the world where you can see the sunrise from the Pacific Ocean and set in the Atlantic Ocean!

The breathtaking views are visible from the same spot on top of the highest peaks in the country: the Volcan Baru.

4. The Birth of Murphy’s Law

Whether you like or hate it, the iconic Murphy’s Law that states, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” was born in Panama! It was the creation of Edward Murphy Jr., who coined the phrase in the late 1900s after a mishap during some rocket sled tests.

5. The First Country Outside the USA to Sell Coca-Cola

Did you know? Panama was the first country after the United States to sell the iconic beverage Coca-Cola. The population of Panama got their hands on the beverage as early as 1906, when bottling operations began in the country.

6. No Need to Fear the Hurricanes

Despite being in the middle of two oceans — the Pacific and the Atlantic — Panama enjoys a hurricane-free climate. This tiny country is located south of the hurricane zone and is relatively safe from tropical storms that trouble other countries to its north.

However, its proximity to the tornado alley means it experiences some of the worst rain in the region. While the country only has two seasons, the wet season often comes with calamities like flash floods and landslides.

7. The Only Capital City with a Rainforest

Panama is the only capital city in the world to have a rainforest within the city limits.

Spread over 232 hectares, the Metropolitan Natural Park is a perfect example of the tropical country’s rich biodiversity. Established in 1985, the park houses 283 species of birds and 633 species of flora. It is also home to a large number of fish, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.

The park is a fantastic attraction for bird watchers. It also boasts of historic architecture and beautiful hiking trails.

8. Duty-Free Zone – Colón

Built to promote the country’s development, business establishment, and operation, and thereby, job creation, the duty-free zone in Panama is the second largest in the world! The top spot is taken up by Hong Kong.

9. The Country of 1500 Islands

Many people know much about the unique geographic location and landscape of Panama. To put it in perspective, it is located on the narrow stretch of land that connects North and South America. More than 1,500 islands dot the country’s coastlines facing the Atlantic and the Pacific. This includes the world-famous islands of San Blas.

10. Swimming Under the Panama Canal

If you’re looking for the next location to plan your adventurous swim, you should make your way to Panama country’s Gatun Lake. Here, scuba divers are free to swim to the waters right below the Panama Canal.

It’s a double treat for history buffs as there are remains of submerged railroads from the days of the Canal’s construction.

11. Panama’s Role in Human Evolution


The formation of Panama was a key event that greatly influenced the climate and environment on Earth. According to scientists, Panama was under the ocean approximately two million years ago. During this period, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans freely passed through the region that makes up the Isthmus of Panama today.

When Panama formed, this flow of water stopped and resulted in many changes in global ocean circulation, atmospheric patterns, and other geographic and weather factors. Ultimately, it created the ideal conditions for life to thrive on many continents.

This is why it is said that the birth of Panama was a catalyst in the journey of human evolution!

12. Coffee’s Integral Role in Panama’s Economy and Culture

Panamanian coffee is highly sought-after worldwide and a must-try for any coffee connoisseur. With some of the most expensive coffee varieties, Panama’s coffee industry is central to its economy. The industry generates around $80 million per year.

While you can buy the beans from anywhere, there’s nothing like taking a trip to the many plantations to learn about the trade and sipping the iconic beverage right in the hills it came from.

13. Rich Cultural Diversity

Panama’s rich culture is due to the diverse population living there. It has its fair share of indigenous population and draws immigrants from all over the world.

The three largest indigenous groups are the Kunas, the Emberás, and the Ngöbe-Buglés. They are found all around the country, but most reside in remote areas. The immigrant population is a mix of Europeans, Afro-Caribbeans, etc. Today, most Panamanians are of mixed ethnicities and cultures.

14. The World’s First and Oldest Operating Interoceanic Railroad

Built in the late 1800s, the Panama Railroad is the world’s first interoceanic railroad. But what’s more impressive is that it still operates today and continues to transport passengers between Colon and Panama City!

It was built to promote the commercial growth of Panama, and unfortunately, the construction came with many tragedies — around 12,000 lives were lost. The railroad has also caused many geographic and political conflicts in the region.

15. A Land with Only Two Seasons

Its proximity to the equator naturally means an extremely hot and tropical climate. It is also the reason why Panama has only two seasons: summer and winter.

Summer is also known as the dry season, with a sunny tropical climate from November to April. The winter or wet season brings about tropical rains from April to November.

16. Atlantic to Pacific in 30 Miles

Do you want to see the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans on the same day? In Panama, it is possible! The country is only 30 miles wide at its narrowest part. With the two oceans on both sides, it is definitely worth the trip.

17. Unparalleled Diversity in Wildlife

Despite being one of the smallest countries in Central America, Panama boasts of a more diverse wildlife than the United States.

In its small geographic footprint, Panama has 10,444 varieties of plant species, 255 mammal species, 972 indigenous bird species, and 222 amphibian species. This includes the most powerful bird of prey in the world: the Harpy Eagle.

If you’re a nature lover or avid bird watcher, traveling to Panama will surely be a rich experience.

18. The Lure of Panamanian Cigars

Cigars made from Panama’s tobacco are considered some of the best in the world. While you don’t need to take the trip to enjoy them, the region’s rich cigar culture is a wonderful experience for any connoisseur.

19. Top Retirement Destinations in the World

If you’re looking for the perfect place to retire to, the Panama Islands are worth considering. This tropical country is a top choice for retirees around the world looking for an affordable and peaceful place to live.

20. A Pure Tax Haven for Foreign Investors

From its strict banking secrecy laws to its highly reduced tax liability, Panama is also an ideal spot for offshore entities.

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