Top tip: Catch that canal
Panama forms the land link between North and South America. It shares borders with Colombia and Costa Rica; the Caribbean lies to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The landscape is mountainous with lowlands on both coasts, divided by streams, forested hills and a wide area of savannah-covered plains and gentle hills called El Interior between the Azuero peninsula and the Central Mountains. The Darién province in the east is a humid area of swamp and junglewhere few people have settled. The Darién Gap is where the Panamerican Highway halts, as extending the road through the dense vegetation would be costly, both in financial and environmental terms.
The Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean are linked by the 65km (50 mile) long man-made Panama Canal, cut into a gap between the Cordillera de Talamanca and the San Blas mountains.
Only about a quarter of the country is inhabited. The populated areas are around the cana, Panama City and Colón (the two cities controlling the canal’s entrance and exit) or in the Pacific lowlands and nearby mountains.
Temperatures are consistently high throughout the year, though cooler at higher altitudes. The rainy season lasts from May to November, but even during this period rain rarely lasts all day, rather comes in short, heavy downpours – the sun will be out again before long. Rainfall is twice as heavy on the Pacific coast as it is on north coast.
Facts and Figures
|Language||The official language is Spanish|
|Religion||Largely Roman Catholic, with a substantial Evangelical minority|
|Time||GMT – 6|
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