Panama is an amazing place, lost between continents and oceans. Famous for the richest rainforests in the region, all kinds of beaches off the coast of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama was named the Best Place to Visit in 2012 by The New York Times for a reason. Even despite the ratings, we can say with confidence that Panama is a must-have item for any inquisitive tourist.
Geography of Panama
According to simplyyellowpages, the Republic of Panama is a relatively small state with an area of 78,200 km². It is actually located in Central and South America on the Isthmus of Panama, from the north it is washed by the Caribbean Sea (Atlantic Ocean), and from the south by the Pacific Ocean. Panama borders Colombia to the east and Costa Rica to the west. In total, the length of the coastline in Panama is 2490 kilometers. In addition, the Republic of Panama includes the archipelagos of Las Perlas, Islas Secas and the islands of Taboga and Coiba (Pacific Ocean), the archipelagos of Bocas del Toro, San Blas and Isla Grande (Caribbean Sea), as well as a number of more small islands off both coasts. The territory of Panama is occupied by mountains and plains interspersed with each other. The highest point is the volcano Baru (Volcan Baru), its height is 3475 meters above sea level.
The area of Panama is 78,200 km2. sq., in terms of area, the country ranks 116th.
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State currency – Balboa (PAB); United States dollar (USD).
Official language – Spanish
Visa to Panama
To the delight of Russians, as well as citizens of a number of CIS countries, Panama has a visa-free regime for them. To visit Panama for tourism purposes, there is no need to apply for a visa: a stamp allowing you to stay in the country for no more than 180 days will be given to you upon arrival. For visa-free entry to Panama, you only need a foreign passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry, return tickets, as well as proof of financial solvency in the form of 500 US dollars per person (by bank card, traveler’s check or cash dollars). Note! The decision to abolish visas to Panama for citizens of Russia (Decreto Ejecutivj No. 201) came into force on April 14, 2014, however, some airlines in South and Central America may not have updated their databases yet. In order to avoid unpleasant incidents, it is recommended to take with you on your trip a printout of the decision to cancel visas from the State Gazette (Gaseta Official). Its copy is here – http://www.gacetaoficial.gob.pa/pdfTemp/27514/46197.pdf.
Weather in Panama
Panama has a subequatorial climate, characterized by high humidity and frequent cloudiness. There are only two seasons in the local climate: the rainy season from May to January and the dry season from January to May. During the year, the temperature changes by only a few degrees, on average it is +25… +28 ºС. The temperature of sea water on the coast is about 24 ºС all year round. The maximum amount of precipitation (3500 mm) falls in the foothill areas in the center of the country, the minimum (2000 mm) – in the coastal areas. Hurricanes often hit the Caribbean coast in Panama. The tourist season in Panama lasts from January to May, this is the time of clear skies, minimum rainfall and average humidity, the most comfortable factors.
Currency exchange in Panama
In Panama, the local currency balboa, equal to 100 centissimo or centavos, is in use. Balboa is equivalent to the US dollar, moreover, in the country you will not find Balboa paper notes – they are replaced by US dollars. You can exchange foreign currency in Panama at the airport, at the offices of the National Bank, as well as at multiple exchange offices called “casa de cambio”. The exchange is recommended to be made in the capital, as in other cities of the country bank branches and exchangers are less common, and only dollars and euros are accepted for exchange. From Monday to Friday, bank branches are open from 08:00 to 15:00, and on Saturdays – from 08:30 to 12:00. Credit cards are accepted for payment almost everywhere; you can cash them, as well as traveler’s checks of all world systems, at any bank branch or at ATMs.
Mains voltage 110\220V, 60 Hz. Sockets are standard American-style with two or three flat pins.
The vast majority of the population, according to various estimates, from 75% to 85% of local residents are Catholics, 2% profess Bahaism, 1.31% are Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1.1% are Mormons.
The crime rate in Panama is high and, unfortunately, continues to rise. Violent robberies and pickpocketing often occur in the country. It is strictly forbidden to visit alone the remote areas of the capital (Panama City), as well as the areas of Darien and Kuna Yala, which are inhabited by the bulk of the country’s bandits and smugglers. Be extremely careful in crowded places, near ATMs, when choosing a taxi (use only the services of official carriers), with the services of porters (they can take things away from you), when choosing a hotel room (choose a higher floor, a safe is required) yes and generally everywhere! It is advisable to leave all valuables in the hotel safe; you must have a copy of your passport with you on the street. To ensure the safety of citizens near large shops and hotels, law enforcement officers are on duty around the clock,
Special vaccinations are not required before traveling to Panama, it is advisable to use bottled water for drinking, as is the case almost everywhere in South and Central America. To protect the skin from the sun and to avoid overheating, it is recommended to use sunscreen with a high SPF factor, wear quality glasses, hats and light but closed clothing. International health insurance is not required but recommended. High-quality medical services in the country are quite expensive, in the event of an accident, insurance will save a decent amount.