Panama, a land of abundance

The old quarter of Panama City, Portobelo, the archipelago of Bocas del Toro... join us on a photographic journey through the southernmost country in Central America, whose name is known the world over for the canal that links the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Panama owes its existence to the canal, which has marked the life and politics of the country since it seceded from Colombia in 1903, and which remains today one of its greatest assets. There's no  surprise then, that the contemplation of quiet yachts and great ships as they pass through the Miraflores locks must rate high on the 'to do' list of anyone who visits the capital. Here, between the Pacific Ocean and tropical rain forest, the old quarter of Panama City offers a fascinating trail of discovery back into the past through four centuries of history. And beyond lies a veritable melting pot of landscapes and cultures that the generous embrace of the tropical seas has made bright, warm and vibrant and whose name is said by some to mean 'abundance of fish, trees and butterflies'.

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Diving, bird watching... there is plenty to do in Panama, a small country with great biodiversity / © Panama Tourism 

Floating cabins in Bocas del Toro, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, which is rich with the typical Afro-Caribbean ambience / © Panama Tourism 

An important crossroads and trade centre in the old Spanish Empire, Panama is a land of contrasts, populated by a mix of races each with their own customs. The multiple cultural roots are reflected in the colourful range of local handicrafts / © Panama Tourism 

Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is the most visited site in the country. There are several ways to discover this marvel of engineering, but the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre is one of the most popular / © Panama Touris 

Panama, Casco Antiguo
Old Panama, the original Spanish city founded in 1519, was sacked and destroyed by fire in 1671. It was replaced by San Felipe, the Casco Antiguo (old quarter) of the modern Panama City, which displays a range of architectural styles / © Panama Tourism 

The Cinta Costera - the coastal strip - in Panama City is a huge - and controversial - infrastructure project whose first phase was opened in June 2009 

Panama, diablicos sucios
The Diablico Sucio – the 'dirty devil' – who parades accompanied by music, bells and castanets, is one of the popular figures of Panamanian folklore / © Panama Tourism 

Old Panama
A visit to the ruins and a walk along the ancient cobbled streets of Panama La Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a journey back through almost five centuries of history/ © Panama Tourism 

On the walls of the great strongholds of the coastal town of Portobelo, and at Fort San Lorenzo in Colon, the cannons still face the Caribbean Sea, ready to defend against pirates and privateers who came to Panama in search of Spanish gold and other treasure / © Panama Tourism 

Panama City
Today, the skyscrapers of Panama City create a modern urban skyline and a cosmopolitan air unlike that of any other capital in Central America and the Caribbean / © Panama Tourism 

Panama occupies a strategic location on the isthmus linking South and Central America and, with its tropical climate, boasts an enormous diversity of wildlife   / © Panama Tourism 

Over a thousand islands are grouped in archipelagos such as San Blas, Las Perlas, Coiba and Bocas, offering spectacular tropical settings / © Panama Tourism 

Beaches and islands weave and intertwine along the coast of Panama, blurring the lines between land and water / © Panama Tourism