The Isthmus of Panama forms a bridge between South and Central America, and borders Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east. Panama City has flights to and from all Central American countries and both North and South America. Major US airlines such as American, Continental and Delta fly to Tocumen Airport in Panama City on a daily basis; Copa Airlines is the national airline.
Panama uses the US dollar as its currency. Don’t be confused by its official name, the Balboa—bills are exactly the same. Panamanian coins are of the same value and size as US coins, which are also accepted.
The climate in Panama varies very little throughout the year. There are only two seasons: the dry season, from January to mid-April, and the rainy season, from mid-April to December. Temperatures usually range between 70°F and 90°F, but it can get a little cooler in the highlands, especially in the province of Chiriqui.
Spanish is the official language, but many people speak English as a second language. The country’s population of almost 3 million reflects a history of mixed ethnicities, due largely to the significant influx of immigrants that arrived during the construction of the Panama Canal. In terms of religion, the Isthmus is predominantly Roman Catholic, but there are some small groups of Muslims, Protestants, Hindus and Jews.
The capital of Panama is a modern, thriving metropolis, with plenty of restaurants, shops and entertainment. Among its main attractions are the Casco Antiguo (or Old District), Panama Viejo (or Old Panama, dating back to the 16 th Century), the Calzada de Amador and, of course, the Panama Canal. For shopping, head to Via España or to one of the new shopping malls, if you want to avoid the heat.
Panama 's economy is based on the service sector, which accounts for three-fourths of the country’s GDP. Besides the Canal, Panama City boasts an important international banking center, while Colon City, on the Caribbean coast, is home to the one of the largest free zones in the world.