Sunday, 22 April 2012


Panama Canal had its 100th birthday


Panama and its people are famous through the history of the Panama Canal.
In the centre of Panama existed villages where pottery was first produced by the indigenous people. The Managrillo culture dated back to 2500-1700 BC. They developed into a significant culture and built the famous burial site at Conte and made the beautiful polychrome pottery of the Cocle style. The Cuna Gyanama and Choca were another indigenous people living there for hundreds and thousands of years.


The Spaniard Vasco Nunez de Balbao was the first European to see the Pacific from the top of the Darien region.
The first settlement on the mainland of America was Old Panama. It was also one of the trade routes between Spain and the colonies. Panama remained part of Spain till 1821 and then joined Colombia. When in 1903 Colombia blocked the building of the Panama Canal and there was a revolution. After that Panama became independent.


The USA had a great influence in the country's policy right through the 20th century.

In 1989 the USA invaded Panama for the reason that the president, General Noriega, was a 'drug baron'. The General was removed and a president was appointed. He was friendlier toward the USA.

The control of the canal lies in the hands of the USA since it was built. In a treaty in 1977 it was established that Panama takes over fully from the Americans from 31 December 1999.
Panama is a narrow piece of land stretching from North America to South America. It has a strategic location and more so through the Panama Canal.

The country is the most southern land in Central America. The land itself is flat and alternatively covered with forest or big banana plantations. However, a rugged mountain chain runs through the length of the country. On the narrowest piece of the land the canal had been built in 1914 and is 82 km long. It connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean. It was built through the only open space in the mountain chain. More than 20,000 men died of yellow fever and malaria while digging the canal.
The reason of the high death toll was the unhealthy climate. It is hot and wet all year round. In the north are heavy rainfalls.
Along the Caribbean coast is mostly rainforest and most of the eastern country. On the Pacific side, the country it is covered with grassland. While in the high mountains are alpine plants. Panama has an unbelievable wildlife such as the South American armadillos, anteaters and sloths as well as North American tapirs, jaguars and deer.
The Darien Gap near the Colombian border is densely forested. The Pan-American Highway which runs from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego cannot be build further. Therefore you must take a boat to get round it because so far nobody was able to cut through the jungle.
Panama has quiet a lucrative source of income; one is the ships having to pay when they want to go through the canal. The other income is many ships register in Panama because of the lower charges. The canal attracts tourism especially the Miraflores locks.
Panama City is a financial centre where many foreign banks are established.
They also have huge deposits of copper in the mountains and experts assume that they are the largest in the world. It was never exploited so far.
A third of the people work on farms and plantations. Their main produce is sugar-cane, bananas, coffee and cacao. Panama has a few factories producing cement, foodstuff, clothing and furniture but nothing big.
Today's people come from a mixture of Spaniards and American Indians which are the mestizos. Another group of people are the black Afro-Americans arriving from the West Indies and also some Asian Indians. Most of these people came over to work on the plantations.


  1. Interesting. A place I doubt I will never visit but you never know :)

  2. Thank you for appreciation and as you say you never know.