Panama, the traveler's crossroad

Although Panama is a small counry (less than 40 miles wide at its narrowest point), it offers a wide range of activities for the traveler.


Panama boasts attractions for the ecotourist. Over 900 bird species (more than Canada & the U.S. combined) are found in Panama.  On Panama's Pipeline Road over 350 species were counted in one day. 

(more ideas for the Ecotourist)

With over 2,000 miles of coastline, there's no shortage of beaches, where diving, surfing, and other water sports are popular. 

The canal builders : making America's empire at the Panama Canal
Julie Greene.
New York : Penguin Press, 2009.
This groundbreaking history of the Panama Canal offers a revelatory workers-eye-view of the momentous undertaking and shows how it launched the American century.
Drawing the line at the big ditch : the Panama Canal Treaties and the rise of the Right
Adam Clymer.
Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c2008.
"Considered one of America's engineering marvels, the Panama Canal sparked intense debates in the 1970s over the decision to turn it over to Panama. In this tale, noted journalist Adam Clymer shows how the decision to give up this revered monument of the "American century" stirred emotions already rubbed raw by the loss of the Vietnam War and shaped American politics for years." "In telling the story of America's reconsideration of the 1903 treaty that gave it control of the Canal "in perpetuity," Clymer focuses on the perspectives of six key players: Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker, political candidate Gordon Humphrey, and Terry Dolan of the National Conservative Political Action Committee. His narrative illuminates many aspects of American politics during the Ford and Carter years - especially regarding Senate elections - that have been largely overlooked." "As Clymer argues, "The Panama Canal no longer divides Panama. But the fissures it opened thirty years ago have widened; they divide the United States." His account offers new insight into the "Reagan Revolution" and highlights an overlooked turning point in American political history."--BOOK JACKET.
Panama fever : the epic story of one of the greatest human achievements of all time--the building of the of the Panama Canal
Matthew Parker.
New York : Doubleday, c2007.
  1. Originally published: United Kingdom: Hutchinson, 2007.
  2. Includes bibliographical references (p. [509]-515) and index.

Panama Canal fees

Canal fees are based on weight.  The lowest fee charged was 36 cents, paid by Richard Halliburton, who swam the Canal in 1928.

Hikers have some unusual opportunities:  jungle treks which follow the old conquistador routes of Camino Real and Camino de Cruces, or a journey through cloudforest up the side of a dormant volcano (Volcan). 

A unique cultural experience is being able to witness the lifestyles of Panama's native tribes, including the Guaymi, the Embera, and the Cuna.

Panama is rich in history.  It was here that Vasco Nunez de Balboa became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean, and Panama became a center for the transportation of Inca gold back to Spain. 

Today, travelers can still visit the ruins of Old Panama, which was sacked by the pirate Henry Morgan in 1671, and Portobelo ("Beautiful Port"), which was named by Christopher Columbus on his last voyage to the Americas.

But the most popular attraction is the Panama Canal, one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century.  It connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, earning Panama the name of 'Crosswords of the World. 

After an earlier French effort which ended in bankruptcy, the United States began work on the canal in 1904, and finished it in 1914.  The result is a monumental achievement that tourists can experience firsthand on canal cruises.

Panama is a beautiful, varied country still unexplored by many travelers. 

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff