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Panama

General Information

Panama is a country in Central America with coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, with Colombia (and South America) to the south and Costa Rica (and North America) to the north. It's strategically located on the isthmus that forms the land bridge connecting North and South America. It controls the Panama Canal that links the Atlantic Ocean (via Caribbean Sea) with the Pacific Ocean, one of the most important shipping routes in the world. The ease of travel and wide array of experiences make Panama one of the most attractive emerging tourism destinations in the world. In just one week, visitors can enjoy two different oceans, experience the mountains and rainforest, learn about native cultures and take advantage of vibrant urban life. The capital, Panama City, is a modern, sophisticated metropolis that resembles Miami and has established commerce, arts, fashion and dining. Fodors, Frommers and National Geographic have all recently began publishing guides for Panama, only the second country in Central America, behind Costa Rica, to have such extensive travel coverage. Panama is known as the "Crossroads of the Americas" due to its privileged position between North and South America. The indigenous meaning of the country's name, "abundance of fish", reflects Panama's reputation as a paradise for water sports enthusiasts and eco-tourists alike. As the isthmus connecting two massive continents, Panama's flora and fauna is incredibly diverse. For example, Panama was recently named the country with the most bird species in the world; over 900. Panama's many indigenous tribes are still thriving, living in the same ancient manner as their ancestors, making its cultural fabric exceptionally rich. Currently undergoing expansion, the Canal continues to drive Panama's service-based economy and remains one of the most important transportation links in the world. In addition to the country's strong economic base, Panama's physical infrastructure, including modern hospitals, airports and roads, is more highly developed than its Central American neighbors.

Climate

Less than 9 degrees north of the equator, most of Panama enjoys temperatures that are fairly consistent year round, with daytime temperatures in the 90s (30 - 33 °C) and nighttime around 70 (21 - 23 °C). Tropical maritime; hot, humid, cloudy; prolonged rainy season, called winter or invierno (May to November); short dry season, called summer or verano (December to April). The most popular time to travel to Panama is December through March, when lack of humidity and nearly zero percent chance of rain make it ideal for travelers. During most of the rainy season, mornings and early afternoons are usually sunny while late afternoons and evenings have intermittent rainfall. Most areas are quite warm, but a few places, such as Boquete, Cerro Punta and El Valle can get a little chilly at night. You definitely want a heavy rain-proof jacket if you're going to the top of Barú since you will be above 3000m.

Terrain

Interior mostly steep, rugged mountains and dissected, upland plains; coastal areas largely plains and rolling hills Highest point : Volcan Barú in Chiriqui Province 3,475 m. On a clear day they say you can see both oceans from the peak.

Map of Panama