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Panama Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: North & Central America & the Caribbean
Full Name: Republic of Panama
Capital City: Panama
Language Spoken: Spanish (official), English 14%; note - many Panamanians bilingual

Panama Travel Insurance

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flag-panama

Geographic data

9 00 N, 80 00 W

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Volcan de Chiriqui 3,475 m

Land boundaries

total: 555 km border countries: Colombia 225 km, Costa Rica 330 km

Natural hazards

occasional severe storms and forest fires in the Darien area

Natural resources

copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower

Land use

arable land: 7.26% permanent crops: 1.95% other: 90.79% (2005)

Environmental current issues

water pollution from agricultural runoff threatens fishery resources; deforestation of tropical rain forest; land degradation and soil erosion threatens siltation of Panama Canal; air pollution in urban areas; mining threatens natural resources

Climate

Temperatures are high across the whole country throughout the year, though cooler at high altitudes. The rainy season lasts from May to November. Rainfall is twice as heavy on the Pacific coast as it is on the lowlands of the Caribbean coast. Required clothing Lightweight cottons and linens are worn, with rainwear advisable, particularly in the rainy season. Warmer clothes are needed in the highlands.

Time difference

time difference: UTC-5

Population

3,191,319 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.3% (male 492,403/female 472,996) 15-64 years: 63.4% (male 1,025,898/female 998,926) 65 years and over: 6.3% (male 94,122/female 106,974) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 26.1 years male: 25.8 years female: 26.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

1.6% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

21.74 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

5.36 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.22 years male: 72.68 years female: 77.87 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.68 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Suits are normally worn for business meetings. Punctuality is appreciated and the exchange of business cards is normal. Overall, business practices and customs in Panama are a unique blend of North American methods and traditional Latin style. Foreign corporations operating in Panama are important in shaping the style and manner of doing business. Panama's official language is Spanish. However, English is widely spoken as a second language in the main cities. Most private business offices are open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon. Banks are open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Most government offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Crime

Crime in Panama City is moderate, but growing, particularly because of the activities of youth gangs. Colon is a high crime area. Police checkpoints have become commonplace on weekends on roads in both cities. Crimes are typical of those that plague metropolitan areas and range from rape to armed robberies, muggings, purse-snatchings, "express kidnappings" from ATM banking facilities, in which the victim is briefly kidnapped and robbed after withdrawing cash from an ATM, and petty theft. There have been reports of incidents of crimes committed against tourists, businesspeople, and residents. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings, especially at night. Based upon reported incidents by local police, the high-crime areas around Panama City are San Miguelito, Rio Abajo, El Chorrillo, Calidonia, Ancon, Curundu, Veracruz Beach, Panama Viejo, and the Madden Dam overlook. Panama City has a curfew for persons less than 18 years of age, although this law is rarely enforced. Under the law, students attending night classes must have a carnet or permit, issued by the school or, if employed, a Certificate of Employment. Minors who are picked up for a curfew violation are subject to detention at a police station until parents or legal guardians can arrange for them to be released into their custody. Parents or legal guardians may be fined up to US$50 for the violation.

Hotels

There are several international level hotels. Facilities usually include business centers, swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, clothing and souvenir shops, casinos, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Furnished apartments are available for longer stays. All large hotels offer American, European, and local cuisine. Some hotel coffee shops are open around the clock.

Communications

Telephone IDD service is available. The country code is 507 and there are no area codes. The outgoing international code: 00. Main post offices and some hotels have fax facilities. Panama has excellent local and international telephone services. Direct dialing is available to more than 150 countries worldwide. Post office hours: 0630-1745 Monday to Friday, 0700-1700 Saturday.

Electricity

is 120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs are the flat 2-pin American type. Electricity 120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs are the flat two-pin American type.

Plug Types

A,B

Food And Dining

American, French and Spanish food is available in all restaurants and hotels in Panama City and Col?n. There is a huge selection of excellent restaurants in Panama City, as well as other main cities. There are also several Oriental restaurants. Native cooking is reminiscent of creole cuisine, hot and spicy. Seafood is excellent and in abundance. The choice and availability of wines, spirits and beers in hotels, restaurants and bars is unlimited. Things to know: Waiter service is the norm.
National specialties: ?Ceviche (fish marinated in lime juice, onions and peppers).
? Patacones de pl?tano (fried plantain).
? Sancocho (Panamanian stew with chicken, meat and vegetables).
? Tamales (seasoned pie wrapped in banana leaves).
? Empanadas (turnovers filled with meat, chicken or cheese).
Tipping:
10 to 15 per cent is customary in hotels (where it is added automatically) and restaurants. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, and rates should be arranged before the trip.
Nightlife
Panama City, in particular, has a wide range of nightlife from nightclubs and casinos to folk, ballet, belly dancing and classical theater. Dancing and entertainment are available in all the big hotels, as well as many clubs. Other large towns and resorts have music, dancing, casinos and cinemas. Further details can be found in local papers.

Entry departure requirements

Note (a) No brief account of the complex Panamanian visa regulations is likely to be fully successful as passport and visa regulations are liable to change at short notice. (b) Panamanian immigration procedures are rigidly enforced and non-compliance with the regulations may result in transportation at carrier's expense to country of origin. (c) Many nationals requiring visas also require authorization from the Immigration Authorities in Panama before entry.

Visa immigration information

Passports

Passport valid for a minimum of six months required by all.

Visas

Required by all except the following for stays of up to 90 days (at the discretion of the Immigration Authorities):
(a) 1. nationals of the EU and the UK (except for UK passports issued in Hong Kong (SAR) to those who were born in Hong Kong);
(b) nationals of Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Korea (Rep), Korea (Dem Rep), Nicaragua, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Uruguay and the Vatican City.

Tourist cards

A Tourist Card will be issued in lieu of a visa to the following for stays of up to 30 days (extendable to 90 days at the discretion of the Immigration Authorities):
2. nationals of Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Thailand, Taiwan (China), Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Venezuela.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist: US$52 Tourist Card: Prices vary, depending on nationality and also on where the Tourist Card is obtained from (eg prior to departure, on the flight or upon arrival at the airport). Some nationals can obtain the Tourist Card free of charge (including nationals of Mexico and the USA). Enquire at the Consulate for details.

Validity

Visas and Tourist Cards are valid within a three-month period from the date of issue and allow stays for up to 30 days (extendable to 90 days at discretion of Immigration Authorities).

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy); see Top Things To Do. A Tourist Card can be issued either by the travel agent or on the flight or at the airport.

Application requirements

(a) Passport valid for at least six months. (b) Two completed application forms. (c) Two passport-size photos. (d) Booking reservation. For countries requiring special authorization: (a)-(c) and, (d) Copies of passport. (e) Copy of return or onward ticket. (f) Letter from the person in Panama taking responsibility for applicant. (g) Proof of financial stability in cash, traveller's cheques or bank statements (at least US$500). (h) Fee, plus postage if necessary.

Working days required

Normally 24 hours if no authorization is needed; up to 40 days if authorization (which depends on nationality) is needed.

HIV entry requirements

Test required for anyone adjusting their visa status whilst in Panama

Departure tax

B20. Children under two years of age and passengers in transit to another country not leaving the airport and remaining for under nine hours are exempt.

Embassies

Embassy of the Republic of Panam? in the UK

Panama House, 40 Hertford Street, London W1J 7SH, UK
Tel: (020) 7493 4646.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1700.
Consular Section: Tel: (020) 7409 2255.
Website: http://www.panamaconsul.co.uk/
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1730.
Can also deal with tourism enquiries.

Embassy of the Republic of Panam? in the USA

2862 McGill Terrace, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 483 1407.
Website: www.embassyofpanama.org
Travel to the Darien province should be conducted only with an organized group, and to recognized tourist destinations protected by the Panamanian police.
There were sporadic demonstrations in Panama City about various social and political issues in 2005. Visitors should avoid all demonstrations and monitor local radio and TV for up to date information.
Travelers should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/panama

US Department of State

Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Panama.html

Currency

Balboa (PAB) = 100 centavos. There is no Panamanian paper currency; coins exist in denominations of PAB10 and 1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centavos. US currency was adopted in 1904 and exists alongside the Balboa coinage: PAB1 = US$1.

Currency restrictions

There are no restrictions on the import and export of either foreign or local currency. However, amounts of over US$10,000 must be declared to immigration upon arrival.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1500, Sat 0830-1200.

Currency exchange

Credit cards

MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly used, but American Express and Diners Club are also accepted. Check with your credit or debit Card Company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, visitors are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Bocas del Toro7+ 6 digits
Ciudad de Panama3+ 6 digits
Colon4+ 6 digits
Los Santos9+ 6 digits
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Good quality dental care is available in Panama City. Avoid dental treatment elsewhere as the standards of care and hygiene cannot be guaranteed.

Medication Availability

Some international medication is available from the larger pharmacies and hospitals in the larger towns and cities.

Blood supplies

Screening is inconsistent in Panama, therefore blood supplies should be considered as unsafe

Medical facilities

Although Panama City has some very good hospitals and clinics, medical facilities outside of the capital are limited.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. Sinus and asthmatic conditions are aggravated by the climate, humidity, molds and grasses. The U.S. Transportation Department reports that the passenger cabins of aircraft destined for Panama are treated with a residual pesticide before passengers board.

Immunization

Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Yellow fever: Vaccination is recommended for travelers over 9 months of age going outside of urban areas. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: Dengue fever - occurs Dengue hemorrhagic fever - occurs Encephalitis (Venezuelan equine) - occurs Leishmaniasis - occurs Malaria - occurs Trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: diseases, including amoebic and bacillary dysenteries and other diarrheal diseases, and the typhoid fevers are very common throughout the area. Many shigella dysenteria type I infections have been caused by drug-resistant enterobacteria. Cholera - occurs Helminthic (parasitic worm) infections - common Hepatitis - occurs Paragonimiasis (oriental lung fluke) - occurs Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - prevalent (usually dogs and bats)

Entry requirements

AIDS: According to the Department of State, testing is required for women intending to work in entertainment centers and for anyone who adjusts his or her visa status for a longer stay once in Panama. Foreign test results are accepted under certain conditions. Contact Panama's embassy for details. Yellow fever: Panama recommends a yellow fever vaccination for travelers destined for Darien Province.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

NameAddress
Centro Medico NacionalFamily Hospital Corporation Ave Justo Arosemena y Cl 38 Panama City
Centro M?dico PaitillaAvenida Balboa y Calle 53 Apartado 7503 Panama 5
Cl?nica Hospital San Fernando3a Via Espa?a Final Carrazquilla Panama City
Hospital Nac De PanamaAvenida Cuba entre Calle 38 y 39 Panama City
Hospital NacionalAve Cuba entre Calles 38 + 39 Panama City
Hospital Punta PacificaBoulevard Punta Pacifica with Boulevard Punta Darien Panama City
Hospital Santa Fe at the Panama CanalAvenida Frabgipani Y Via Bolivar Apartado Postal 3320 Panama City 4

Media

Press: Cr?tica Libre (website: www.critica.com.pa), La Estrella de Panam? (website: www.estrelladepanama.com), El Matutino, El Panam? Am?rica (website: http://elpanamaamerica.terra.com.pa), La Prensa (website: www.prensa.com), La Rep?blica, El Siglo (website: www.elsiglo.com) and El Universal (all in Spanish) are the largest daily newspapers.
TV: Telemetro, RPC and Televisora Nacional (TVN) are commercial networks. FETV is a charitable network.
Radio: RPC, Metro Stereo, Super Q and Omega Stereo are all commercial networks. KW Continente broadcasts come BBC programs.

 

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