Mi Panama Bella (Culture in Panama)

Panama is located in Central America and is one of the countries that make up the “bridge” that connects North and South America. One of the famous feats of human engineering is there – the Panama Canal, which connects the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean as an essential shipping route.

The culture of Panama derives from European music, art and traditions brought by the Spanish to Panama. Hegemonic forces have created hybrid forms blending African and Native American culture with European culture.

For example, the tamborito is a Spanish dance with African rhythms, themes and dance moves.

Dance is typical of the diverse cultures in Panama. The local folklore can be experienced at a multitude of festivals, through dances and traditions handed down from generation to generation. Local cities host live reggae en español, reggaeton, haitiano (compas), jazz, blues, salsa, reggae, and rock music performances.

Bocas Del Toro

A panel of “Molas” traditional textile art from the Kuna tribe from the province of bocas del toro

Bocas del Toro Town, or just Bocas Town, is the capital of Bocas del Toro Province, in Panama. It’s at the southern tip of Isla Colón, in the Caribbean Sea. Nearby beaches include sheltered Starfish Beach, to the northwest. 

Poison dart frogs are endemic to the islands of Bocas Del Toro, each island having their own specific colorful frogs that can be identified by their color patterns like red for the island of bastimentos and gold for the island colon. Sloths live in the various mangroves off of the islands of Bocas Del Toro.

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Strawberry Poison-dart frog from the island of Bastimentos

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a sleeping sloth hanging around the mangrove trees of bocas del toro

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‘El Dorado’ poison dart frog from the Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro

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Picture of a Ngobe woman with her baby in their traditional dress

 

The arts and crafts of the indigenous people, Ngöbe-Bluglé, are also a perspective on the contemporary indigenous lifestyles in Panama.

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These traditional necklaces are called "chaquiras" and are a beautiful bead-work done by the Ngábe-Bugle tribe.

las Paridas

Picture of “Isla Parida" in the archipelago off the Pacific coast of Chiriqui

Picture of “Isla Gamez" which is a part of the Paridas archipelago with beautiful cliffsides and turquoise waters

The pacific islands of “las Paridas” (which means the births in Spanish) are home to whales during the late wet season in Panama and can be seen from the small motorboats jumping from island to island. 

Picture of a whale swimming in the pacific coast of Panama and can be seen caring for their young in the shallower waters”

Picture of one of the above water buildings in the island of Coiba another beautiful island off the coast of Boca Chica

Colon

Picture of “Isla Grande" in Colon Panama

The province of Colon is right on the Caribbean coast of Panama and has a host of wild animals that live on the mainland and on the islands, like howler monkeys. Colon also has an old Spanish fort from 1758 in Portobelo and the women wear a traditional dress of Colon Pollera Conga.

Picture of a woman dressed up in vibrant colors in the traditional pollera dress of Portobello Colon

Picture of a howler monkey

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Picture of one of the guard watchtowers in the San Fernando Fort with a vulture resting on the top of the rock.

Front picture of the San Fernando Fort Battery ruins - Constructed in 1758 on the north side of the bay in portobelo, it was built on two levels, a low one with fourteen cannons and another level with six.

If the rich culture of Panama makes you wonder how wonderful cultures in other countries are and you are a high school or college student, you might want to check out the study abroad resources pages below.