The land that is Panama
Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is the southernmost country of Central America and the whole of North America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metro area is home to nearly half of the country's 3.6 million people.
Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures are uniformly high—as is the relative humidity—and there is little seasonal variation. On a typical dry-season day in the capital city, the early morning minimum may be 24 °C (75.2 °F) and the afternoon maximum 30 °C (86.0 °F). The temperature seldom exceeds 32 °C (89.6 °F) for more than a short time.
People of Panama
The principal ethnic group in the country is that of the mestizos, which comprises some 70% of the population. In Panama, "mestizo" usually refers to a mixture of any of the various ethnic groups found in the country. This differs from the standard Latin American definition of the term, which is limited to the mixture of Spanish and indigenous ancestry. The second largest ethnic group consists of the descendants of African slaves, who make up 14% of the Panamanian population. The third major ethnic group in Panama consists of the remaining indigenous populations in Panama, which amount to only about 6% of the total population. The fourth ethnic group in Panama comprises the descendants of European, or "whites" as they are referred to by the local people, who account for nearly 10% of the population. This group represents the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors, who have been able to control most of the country's resources. They are usually among the ranks of the elite in Panama and possess most of the financial and natural capital in the country.
Panama's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. For all people national elections are universal and mandatory for all citizens 18 years and older. National elections for the executive and legislative branches take place every five years.
Executive power is vested in the president, who is assisted by two vice presidents. All three posts are popularly elected to five-year terms. The president appoints cabinet ministers and other important officials. Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral Legislative Assembly , which currently is composed of 78 representatives directly elected to five-year terms. Beginning with 2009 elections, the legislature will comprise 71 members. A nine-member Supreme Court Justice, to which judges are appointed for 10-year terms, presides over the judicial system.
Places to see
Located in Eastern Panama, the San Blas Islands is the best place to explore the rich culture of Panama’s indigenous people, the Kuna. The Kuna people view this area as their own but are warm and welcoming to visitors. One member of the tribe is stationed on many of the area’s tiny tropical islands, and for a nominal fee, they allow visitors exclusive use of the island for the day.
Sendero Los Quetzales near the small town of Cerro Punto is one of Panama’s most beautiful trails. The 9 km (5 miles) route starts east of town and takes between four and seven hours. The trail winds through the cloud forest of Parque Nacional Volcán Barú and follows the Río Caldera, crossing it several times en route. It ends in the mountains above Boquete. The trail can also be hiked in reverse, but it’s entirely uphill from Boquete. Because the trail is not well marked it is recommend to hire a guide or join an organized tour.