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