Fascinating Facts about Panama
This Central American country is a little smaller than the state of South Carolina. Panama is an isthmus (a narrow land bridge) that connects the North American and South American continents. It was once part of the South American country of Columbia.
The climate here is tropical—mostly hot and humid with a long rainy season that lasts from May to January. The land includes mountains, beautiful beaches, and rainforest.
Panama has the most diverse wildlife in Central America. Bird and fish species especially thrive here. There are also more than 10,000 plant species, including 1,200 different kinds of orchids and 1,500 kinds of trees! The national flower is an orchid called Flor de Espiritu Santo (the flower of the Holy Spirit).
The golden frog (actually a toad) is somewhat of a national symbol but is considered critically endangered and may even be extinct in the wild. Biologists are trying to help bring the species back by breeding the frog in captivity.
Empanadas, a pastry filled with a sweet filling such as fruit or with meat and cheese and then baked or fried, is a favorite local food. Other foods you might be served here include fish and seafood, rice and beans, coconut, and plantains.
The idea of the famous Panama Canal began in 1534 with a Spanish king who wanted a way for ships to be able to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific without going all the way around the tip of South America. But it took several centuries for the canal to become a reality. The 51-mile canal finally opened in 1914. About 14,000 ships travel through it each year.
Almost all Panamanians are Christian.
Baseball is the most popular sport here. Other favorites are boxing and soccer.
Learn the Language
The official language of Panama is Spanish, but many Panamanians also speak English. There are also several native languages that are still spoken. Have fun with these Spanish words and phrases:
Vamos. Let’s go.
Con permiso. Excuse me.
Apurate por favor! Hurry up, please!
Te quiero mucho! I love you!
Que´ te gusta comer? What would you like to eat?
Puedo comer helado por favor? May I have ice cream, please?
Feliz cumplea˜nos! Happy birthday!