This small country, connecting Central and South America, is brimming with gorgeous scenery, wonderful wildlife, and a vibrant, rich culture that beckons travelers to forget their cares, pack sunscreen, and discover adventure around every turn.

Panama’s cultural life blends indigenous peoples with Spanish influences, brought to the area by settlers in the 16th century. A remarkably diverse nation, Panama is home to Creole, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Chinese, African, Jewish, and Hindu populations, as well as four officially recognized Indian ethnic groups- the Kuna, Embera, Waunaan, and Guaymi. The blend of heritages and cultures is reflected throughout city life, in the food, music, and attractions that combine to create a unique travel experience.

What is the best way to explore Panamanian culture?

  • Stray from the beaten path. The visitor can, for instance, venture into Ella Drua, home of one of only seven Embera and Waunaan communities in the region. Here, you can experience traditional life of an indigenous people. Ella Drua has about 120 residents, who make their living through agriculture and tourism. The friendly community welcomes visitors, who can enjoy traditional music and dance, select hand-crafted artisan works, and experience the remarkable hospitality of the Embera and Waunaan people.
  • Commune with nature. The culture of Panama is tied inextricably with its geography and natural setting. Home to an incredible array of wildlife, the country is a prime bird watching spot. Visit locales such as El Valle, in the Anton Valley. Home to more than 350 species of birds, this is your chance to see some of the most rare – and spectacular – winged creatures in the world. Even non-birders will fall in love with the gorgeous scenery.
  • Hit the beach. In a country that has 1,800 miles of coastline, both Pacific and Caribbean, the beach is an integral part of life. Try the San Blas Archipelago, a series of 378 islands and cays. Many are uninhabited, and all are breathtaking. Swim, sail, snorkel, dive, or simply lounge on the white, sandy beaches.
  • Trek into the Rainforest. Hikes, guided walks, canopy tours, and other excursions provide the opportunity to quiet the outside world and let your eyes and ears fill with the wonders of the jungle. Panama’s jungles are less traveled by tourists, so you will enjoy a break from crowds while experiencing nature in a very personal way.

The culture of Panama is as dynamic, rich, and abundant as life in its rainforests. Explore, and lose yourself in this magical land.

Enid Glasgow