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Panama & Panamanian Culture People, Culture, and Values

Updated on October 3, 2011

There are many ways to enjoy and immerse yourself in this wonderfully diverse country in South America. There are many ways to enjoy this country which connects South America to North America, occupying the isthmus which forms the land bridge. It is bordered in the northwest by Costa Rica and in the southeast by Columbia. The Caribbean sea lays to the north of this thin country and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It has much to offer visitors from its ecology to its pre-Columbian historical sites. It is an adventure waiting to happen and there are some things you can do to make the most of your experience to immerse yourself culturally.

1. To immerse yourself into the Panama culture you need to experience some of its past. The best way to learn about Panama’s past is to visit some of the historical locations that are available like San Jose Church and Casco Viejo, The Old City. These places will give you a good starting point for your immersion into Panama culture.

2. The second place to continue with your Panama culture immersion is to experience the natural preserves that can be found in Panama. Experience your natural surroundings and embrace the natural beauty of Panama’s MetropolitanNational Park, located outside downtown Panama City featuring hiking trails and plant species and wildlife. Also not to be missed is GatunLake, the world’s largest manmade lake, after Lake Mead, which forms the central part of the Panama Canal. Getting to know your environment better is essential to getting to know exactly how the Panama people interact with different parts of their environment.

3. Continuing your immersion into the culture of Panama it must be remembered that history and nature are only a start. Hungry by now the next place on our agenda is a stop for food, for some authentic traditional food. Panama is an ideal place to enjoy local cuisine, which varies from region to region. Some of the local dishes include sancocho de gallina (chicken stew), carimañolas (deep fried meat-filled yucca rolls). Fish and seafood are prevalent in several areas. This is an excellent way taste the cuisine of Panama.

4. If you travel to Panama be aware the season runs from mid December till mid April (Summer), and it rains very little during this time and the vegetation browns. The rest of the year is the rainy season and this is when the forest is the lushes’ and the tropical experience at its height. So when you go depends on what you want to do on your trip, but either way you will be immersed in Panamanian culture and to time your holiday for the carnival in February with its fireworks, music, dancing, drinking and the parades truly showing you how the Panamanians celebrate their holidays and immerse you further into their culture.


Panama Map
Panama Map
Panama Farmer
Panama Farmer
Panama Tradtional Dance Costume
Panama Tradtional Dance Costume

5. In modern Panama as well as in the past communities gathers near the town squares during the weekends and holidays to display their wares, handicraft items, clothes, food with cafes and shops busy. Walk through the markets and take in the sights and sounds of what is on offer. With everything you touch or taste and smell you will find yourself wanting to see what more there is round the corner.

6. Another step to immersing yourself in the culture of Panama is to meet people, talk to them about their lives, making new friends in the process. The markets and the local shops perfect for this. You can meet local artisans in their shops, learn about their family’s roots and their ancient traditions first hand. This is a good way to relax and unwind, a good time to mingle in an unstressed atmosphere.

7. A final way to immerse yourself in the culture of Panama is to volunteer in one of the programs from around the world that take annual trips to Panama. Panama has a problem with poverty, the victims a lot of the time children and there are charities that help bring medical supplies, education, food to those less fortunate in this country. One such non government organization is Bruce.Org which is bringing education to the street kids and bringing them hope and this would be a fantastic opportunity for you to experience Panama as tourists rarely get the opportunity to do so.

Any of these steps above is the perfect opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a foreign culture. To see the world through the eyes of the inhabitants of that country is often an eye opener, yet a great experience. However you choose to do it you will be forever changed by your experiences. So plan your trip carefully, making sure you make the most of the time there. Following these guidelines will help make your trip to Panama unforgettable.


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