The Canal and 10 other things that make Panama special


The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is the thing that most people associate with the Central American country of Panama. And yes, it is an impressive work of engineering that saves shipping and transport companies billions of dollars a year by providing a direct connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Panama canal

But there is so much more about Panama that is special too, says Dallas, co-founder and CEO of leading local property company Utopia Concierge and Realty Services.


For example, Panama is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with more than 900 bird species and 10 000 plant species. About a third of its total area is taken up by several national parks and protected areas created to preserve its unique ecosystems.” (See

National Parks

The most well-known of these include the Soberania National Park close to the banks of the Panama Canal, the Metropolitan Natural Park at the heart of Panama City, Coiba National Park and the spectacular and remote La Amistad International Park. Both Coiba and La Amistad are Unesco World Heritage sites.

soberania national park

In the Chiriqui province, close to the popular retirement town of Boquete, there is the Volcan Baru National Park surrounding the country’s only “active” volcano and its highest point, and the Gulf of Chiriqui Marine Reserve.

volcan Baru

(See also

la amistad park


Panama is also very diverse culturally, due to its unique geographic location and history, says Dallas. “It is a true melting pot of cultures, cuisines, traditions, folklore, art and colourful celebrations, and rightly known as a very tolerant and friendly society.”

Panama is home to several different indigenous groups, such as the Kuna, Embera and Wounaan, who have preserved their traditional customs and ways of life and a large number of Afro-Antillean descendants in the northern province of Colon, for example. In the central provinces, the influence of the Spanish colonizers is clearly evident in the traditional dress and jewellery, and in most parts of the country it is very clear to see the enormous influence of the Chinese culture and cuisine which was first introduced to during the building of the Canal in the early 1800s.

Eight more things that make Panama unusual and special are:

Some unique festivals

such as the “Festival de las Flores y del Cafe” (the Flower and Coffee Festival held in Boquete every January);

Boquete flower festival

the “Feria Internacional de las Artesanias” (the International Craft Fair held in Panama City evey July),

arts festival

and the “Carnaval de Las Tablas” (Las Tablas Carnival).


There are also many other colorful festivals and horse parades for both residents and visitors to enjoy, particularly in March/ April before Lent, and in during November, the month when Panama celebrates its independence.

Balboa and the US Dollar

Panama uses the US dollar as its official currency. It mints its own coins, in the same denominations as the US, but does not print its own paper money.

balboa coin USD

A huge and sophisticated banking sector.

Panama is one of the world’s most popular tax havens and a hub for offshore banking.


High-rise buildings:

Panama City surprises many first-time visitors with its stunning array of high-rise residential and commercial buildings, including the tallest skyscraper in Latin America, the F&F Tower (also known as El Tornillo).

F and F tower


Canal expansion:

In 2016, the Panama Canal underwent a major expansion, which enabled it to accommodate the biggest container ships and has entrenched its status as one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.

canal expansion

The “other” Panama hats.

These are not the white hats made in Ecuador that are often called Panama hats,

panama hat

but much more traditional hats made by hand and now increasingly sought after around the world.

Pintao hat

A carbon-negative environment.

Panama was one of the first countries in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and is thus carbon-negative. About 65 percent of its land is covered in rainforests and it has no coal-fired power stations.

hydro power

No Army.

Panama was the second country in Latin America to abolish its standing army (with the other being Costa Rica). Its police and internal security forces are tasked with law enforcement and can only perform limited military actions. They report to the Ministry of Public Security, a civilian authority.


Contact Us

If you are planning a trip to Panama or thinking of buying residential or commercial property in this remarkable country, contact Utopia Real Estate and Concierge Services today. We can offer you a wealth of local knowledge and connections to help you get to know the different regions of Panama before you buy, and we pride ourselves on a highly professional, personalized real estate service provided by qualified and licensed agents. Email or WhatsApp +507 6601 3159