Panama Panama
¤ Introduction ¤ Why Panama? ¤ MICE Highlights
¤ Air Distances to Panama ¤ Group Venues
¤ Geography ¤ History & Culture ¤ Recreation
¤ Golf ¤ Leisure ¤ General Information

¤ Request for Proposal

Introduction

While most people instantly associate Panama with its famous canal, Panama is a country where the concept of exotic begins with its name, which means "abundance of fish and butterflies" in their indigenous language. Panama respects its seven distinct indigenous people who to this day live much as their ancestors did, preserving their culture and way of life. The country is known as "the Bridge of the World", where modern cities meet with nature's beauty and where there is always something new to discover.

Panama Folklore

Why take a Meeting or an incentive group to the Republic of Panama?

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MICE Ship

MICE highlights - A Meeting in Paradise

Panama City, as sophisticated as any capital city, is the only cosmopolitan city in the world where you find a growing skyline of gleaming skyscrapers and a protected tropical rainforest within the city limits. Panama City is one of the preferred destinations in Latin America. Its prime location and excellent infrastructure, together with its supreme nightlife and world-class services, make it the Meeting and Incentive capital of the Americas. The city speaks about its rich past and propitious future. Two thousand years of culture, commerce, and conquest are to be found in Old Panama, the colonial quarter, and the gleaming high rises of the international banking center. Panama is Latin America’s largest banking center with more than one hundred banks representing over 30 different countries.

Panama Building

Air Distances to Panama

Atlanta 4 hours
Houston 3.5 hours
London 12 hours
Los Angeles 6 hours
Madrid 10 hours
Miami 3 hours
New York 5 hours

Map of Panama

Group Event Venues

The Marine Exhibition Center has two aquariums, a museum and an outdoor telescope for viewing ships waiting to pass through the canal.

The Panama Canal Museum, at the Miraflores Locks, preserving the American era of the Panama Canal, with a private cocktails/dinner at the Miraflores Restaurant.

The Panama Canal Railroad, enjoy a leisurely ride along the Panama Canal and into the mountains of central Panama on the first trans-continental railway, beginning in Balboa and ending in Colon City.

The National Theater in Panama´s French Quarters. Recently restored, this neo-baroque hall features a fabulous chandelier and ceiling mural by Panamanian Roberto Lewis.

Many outdoor locations which include Isla Grande and Portobello, the San Blas Islands, and also Gamboa Tropical Rainforest.

After extensive research, we recommend Experience Panama to handle all details .

Geography

Panama is the southernmost of the Central American countries. It is south of Costa Rica and north of Colombia. The Panama Canal bisects the isthmus at its narrowest and lowest point allowing passage from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. It is marked by a chain of mountains in the west, moderate hills in the interior, and a low range on the east coast. There are extensive forests in the fertile Caribbean area.

History & Culture

Explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Panama broke with Spain in 1821 and joined a union with Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador - named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When the latter dissolved in 1830, Panama remained part of Colombia. With US backing, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 and promptly signed a treaty with the US allowing for the construction of a canal and US sovereignty over a strip of land on either side of the structure (the Panama Canal Zone). The US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914 built the Panama Canal. In 1977 an agreement was signed for the complete transfer of the Canal from the US to Panama by the end of the century. With US help, Dictator Manuel Noriega was deposed in 1989. The entire Panama Canal, the area supporting the Canal, and the remaining US military bases were transferred to Panama by the end of 1999. In October 2006 Panamanians approved an ambitious plan to expand (widen) the Canal. The expansion project will begin in 2007 with completion in 2014-15, which could double the Canal's capacity.

Dancers in the Street

The Republic of Panama is divided into ten provinces.

Panamá Province highlights: The Panama Canal; Parque Nacional Soberania, one of the world's premier bird watching sites; Archipiélago de las Perlas, the islands named for their pearls and known for their pirate past.

Bocas del Toro Province highlights: Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro, a prime snorkeling and diving spot; Peninsula Valiente, where forested slopes and postcard-perfect beaches meet a hammering surf.

Rapids

Chiriquí Province highlights: Rapids packed Rios Chiriquí and Chiriquí Viejo for white-water rafting; Sendero Los Quetzales, one of Central America's loveliest nature trails; the mysterious carved boulders of El Nancito.

Veragus Provine highlights: Parque Nacional Coiba, the Devil's Island of Panama; Iglesia San Francisco de Veraguas, one the America's best examples of Baroque art and architecture; Santa Fé a mountain town famous for its magnificent orchids.

Herrera Province highlights: Pottery factories in La Arena; historic Parita with buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries; Ocú where women braid some of the world's finest Panama hats.

Los Santos Province highlights: Isla Caña whose beaches are visited each year by thousands of sea turtles; Playa Venao, one of Panama's finest surfing beaches and one of the most beautiful.

Coclé Province highlights: El Valle, home to a Sunday handicrafts market and a wild rain forest-canopy ride; fine cigar factory in the foothill town of La Pintada; Aguadulce's Las Piscinas, four tideland swimming pools.

Colón Province highlights: Historic Portobelo, well-preserved ruins of several colonial forts; Gatún Locks, the largest of the Panama Canal's three sets of locks; Fuerte San Lorenzo build of cut coral.

Comarca de San Blás highlights: Needle Island with inviting sand and surf; Wreck Reef, a snorkeling site and a graveyard for many a boat.

Darién Province highlights: Parque Nacional Darién home to a vast jungle; Lush Cana Valley where jungle trails lead to abandoned mining trains; Rio Sambu where travelers can take a heart-of-darkness ride through a primeval rain forest; Tropic Star Lodge, world leader in sport fishing records.

Recreation & Sports

Beside the national parks there are 27 other protected areas. This preserves the country's natural attractions lending it to the following recreation activities in beautiful settings.

Beautiful Sand Island

Golf

Panama has the best golf courses in all of Central America. The two most famous are the Coronado Golf & Beach Resort and the Summit Golf & Resort. Coronado is an 18-hole, par 72 course that offers 7,092 yards of professional play. This course is particularly beautiful because of the abundance of fruit trees. This course is considered a jewel for Latin America.

Nested in the wilderness near the Panama Canal, we can find the Summit Golf & Resort. This luxurious complex includes two golf courses, the first of which is an 18-hole course and the second is a children’s special course with 6 holes. Summit Golf & Resort is also the only GPS equipped course in Latin America, located only a 20 minute drive from Panama City.

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Leisure

Panama offers visitors a myriad of enjoyable activities

Shopping Mall

General Information

Accommodations

There is no shortage of memorable places to stay in Panama. Some have views that leave a lasting impression. The Canopy Tower in Panamá Province is a former radar installation ringed by a dense rain forest. The installation has been converted to a birding platform with half a dozen charming guest rooms. Other accommodations include romantic chalets, historic hotels, boutique hotels and rustic yet lovely beachside cabañas.

Climate

Most of Panama has two seasons; the dry and the rainy. On the Pacific slope of Panama to the south of the major mountain ranges, the dry season lasts from about mid-December to mid-April. The rainy season lasts from mid-April to mid-December. Even at the height of the rainy season, all day rains are rare in the southern half of Panama. Typically rain arrives in downpours lasting less than an hour. Temperatures are typically hot in the lowlands 32° C during the day and 21° C at night. In the mountains it is cool, 18° C during the day and 10° C at night. Panama is not subject to hurricanes.

Communications

Phones can be found across Panama. Fax and sometimes email services are offered at Cable & Wireless offices throughout the country. Many upscale hotels offer fax service with most hotels offering email services. Internet cafés can be found in all cities and some towns.

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Dancers

Ecology & Environment

Panama has set aside more land for habitat protection than any other Central American country. Its forests contain the greatest number of species of all the New World countries north of Columbia. In addition to the national parks, there are 27 other areas under the National Environment Authority. Panama also shares an international park with Costa Rica.

Electricity

Panama's electricity supply is 110V/AC at 60 Hz.

Food & Beverage

In keeping with its international and multiethnic character, Panama offers a variety of food. The national dish is sancocho, a fairly spicy chicken and vegetable stew. Ropa ieja, a spicy shredded beef combination served over rice, is another common and tasty dish.

Fresh fruit drinks sweetened with heaping tablespoons of sugar and mixed with water or milk are called chichas and are very common. A nonalcoholic drink found only in Panama is chicheme made with milk, sweet corn, cinnamon and vanilla. The national alcoholic drink is made of seco, milk and ice. Seco is distilled from sugar cane. By far the most popular alcoholic beverage is cereeza (beer).

Government

Constitutional Democracy, Centralized Republic.

Holidays

Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 9 Martyrs' Day
March/April Good Friday, Easter
May 1 Workers' Day
August 15 Founding of Old Panama (Panama City only)
October 12 Hispanic Day
Nov 1 National Anthem Day
Nov 2 All Souls' Day
Nov 3 Independence Day
Nov 10 First Call for Independence
Nov 28 Independence from Spain
Dec 8 Mother's Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

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Languages

Beautiful Dancer

The official language is Spanish. English is fluently spoken in the hotels, banks and tourist centers.

Money

The currency in Panama is the balboa or the American dollar.
1 balboa = 1 US dollar. As the balboa only exists in the form of coins, the bill commonly used is the dollar. However, American coins are accepted too. Visitors should take with them small bills that are clean, not torn, and without writing, otherwise they might not be accepted. Credit Cards, especially Visa & American Express cards are accepted.

Nightlife

Panama City has the best selection of entertainment in Central America. Visitors have the option of hearing live jazz, rock, salsa, and Panamanian music or going dancing at one of the high-tech dance clubs. Drinks can be enjoyed at fancy bars, neighborhood pubs or traditional cantinas. Other nightlife choices are gambling at casinos, attending art events and concerts. The number of entertainment options drops off dramatically outside the capital city.

Passports & Visas

Citizens of all nations are required to have a passport to enter Panama. Passports should be valid for at least six months beyond the trip date. Visas are not necessary for U.S. Citizens, and citizens of the European Union. An entrance Tourist Card is required. The airline will be able to provide travelers with this card. There is also a departure tax.

Special Events

Carnival is celebrated during the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday. The famous Corpus Christi celebration in Villa de Los Santos takes place 40 days after Easter. The Peninsula de Azuero has a number of notable festivals. The Black Christ celebration is held on October 21 in Portobelo. The celebration for Nuestra Señora del Carmen takes place on Isla Taboga July 16. Panama's many ethnic groups have their own cultural events.

Time

Panama time is in line with New York and Miami, five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and one hour ahead of the rest of Central America. Panama does not observe Daylight Savings.

Tipping

A tip equal to 10% of the bill is standard in upscale restaurants. In small cafés and other casual places, tipping is not necessary. Taxi drivers are not tipped, however bellhops are usually tipped.

Topography

Panama is a long, narrow country in the shape of an S. The Isthmus of Panama is the narrowest landmass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. At its narrowest point it is less than 50km wide. The Panama Canal, which is 80km long, effectively divides the country into eastern and western regions. Two mountain chains run along Panama's spine, one in the east and one in the west. The highest point in the country is 3,478m Volcán Barú in western Chiriquí Province. Panama's only volcano is dormant, although hot springs around its flanks testify to continuing activity under the ground. Panama has large flat coastal lowlands. There are 480 rivers in Panama that drain into the Pacific Ocean or the Caribbean Sea and 1,518 islands off its coasts. Even the Panama Canal has islands.

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Travel into and within the country

Airlines serving Panama on a regular basis include major North and South American carriers, and Taiwanese, Israeli, Russian and Spanish airlines. Panama has two international airports, one in Panama and one in David. If you live in North or Central America it is possible to travel to Panama overland. The U.S. town nearest Panama is Brownsville, Texas on the Mexican border. There are three road border crossings between Costa Rica and Panama. Every year several hundred cruise ships transit the Panama Canal. There are several places for ships to tie up giving their passengers time to see some of Panama on foot.

Local transportation in Panama is very good. There are airstrips throughout the country and most receive commercial flights. Panama is well served by its domestic airlines. Due to the low cost and availability of buses and taxis, it isn't necessary to rent a vehicle unless you intend to go to places far off the beaten track. There are plenty of car-rental agencies in Panama City and few in other cities. Boats are the chief means of transportation in several areas of Panama. The boat of choice is a long canoe, or piragua, carved from the trunk of a giant ceba tree. Piraguas' shallow hulls allow them to ride the many rivers that comprise the traditional transport network of eastern Panama.

Tourism

Travel Advice Contacts (Information on health issues, safety, visas)

These websites are provided as basic guidelines. Please refer to the State Department of your home country for more details and current information.

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