|Preface Last Updated: 5/21/2004
“The Crossroads of the World,” Panama’s geography continues to
shape the destiny of the Isthmus and the peoples from all over the
world who have come to call this country their home. The country is
the physical link between North and South America, with the
Continental Divide squeezed to its narrowest point in the
hemisphere. It is also very much on the Cultural Divide between old
and new, historic and modern, tradition and fad. The dynamic rhythms
of many cultures and peoples have come to form a melting pot at the
middle of the world.
Geography made the construction of the Panama Canal an especially
formidable task. French engineers tried for 20 years to build a
sea-level canal, but were ultimately defeated by malaria. The
Americans came with a plan for a lock system and also developed the
scientific know-how to control malaria and basically eliminate it as
a threat to the Canal workers. The workers came from the West Indies
and the Orient, from Barbados and China. Many decided to stay in
Panama, continuing an ethnic and cultural mix that started with the
arrival of the first Spanish conquistadores in the 16th Century,
continued through waves of European immigration in the 19th Century,
and continues today as Panama moves into the 21st Century.
The Panama Canal Zone cut across the Isthmus from north to south.
The Zone was once legally U.S. territory. Those born in it are
considered as native-born U.S. citizens. The Zone was in many
respects a transplantation of middle-class American traditions and
values. It had its own legal system based on the Code of Napoleon.
The educational system came directly from the U.S. and was
administered by the Department of Defense Schools System. Balboa
High School in the Zone graduated its last class in 1999,
symbolizing the end of an era. As of January 1, 2000, the Canal was
in Panamanian hands.
U.S. influence in Panama continues to be felt. One aspect is the
presence of over 20,000 American residents. The Embassy runs the
largest single program of overseas benefits for the U.S. Office of
Personnel Management. The legacy of cultural ties continues.
Panamanian-American traditions such as the Ocean-to-Ocean cayuco
(canoe) race symbolize the interaction of American and Panamanian
culture. The presence of thousands of Panamanian-American dual
nationals is a living legacy of that interaction.
The Panama Hat symbolizes the central importance of Panama’s
commercial sector. Actually produced in Ecuador, the Panama Hat is
the quintessential emblem of tropical living. It took its name from
the country of Panama, because, as with so many other products of
the region, it is re-exported through Panama’s ports to destinations
around the world.
Once they come to Panama, many people from other lands fall in
love with the country. They want to come back and even settle down
here. Close enough to the States to be convenient for travelers, yet
far enough away to be different, Panama acts like a magnet on
visitors and first-time residents.
The town of El Valle, site of the Mission’s Immersion Spanish
program, features native indigenous peoples, weekly open market
places, beautiful mountain scenery, picturesque streams, and a large
community of retired Americans. Many of these Americans formerly
worked for the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal area or were
members of the U.S. military services.
Businesses and tourists alike are finding Panama to be an
increasingly attractive destination. Cruise ship business is up
briskly in 2002; the trans-Isthmian railway is operating; and the
Canal has a higher volume of ship transists than ever.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 5/21/2004 1:53 PM
The contrast between life in Panama City and in the rest of the
country is striking. The city itself has changed enormously in the
last 10 years. A modern banking center, several huge new shopping
centers, and scores of high-rise office and apartment buildings have
re-shaped the skyline. But the history and tradition of the past can
be found quickly in Casco Viejo (the old center) where the cathedral
forms the center of what was once the “downtown” area. The ruins of
Panama Viejo (Old Panama), once the object of attack from the
pirates of the Caribbean, are a short distance from the modern city
The countryside, by contrast, continues to resemble in many ways
what it was 10 years ago. Small towns and Indian villages, many
nestled in mountain valleys, have seen some changes but everything
is “low rise” and “laid back.” Rural Panama is the heartland of
Panamanian native cultural life, with the typical music and dances
of yesteryear still popular today. Here is where city dwellers flock
for relief on weekends and over holidays.
River rafting, surfing, hiking, biking, snorkeling, swimming,
fishing, hunting...and so much more. These are but some of the
attractions that beckon people to come to Panama. Panama is also
home to Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, to Roberto Duran,
the boxer, and to Ruben Blades the song writer, among other
Development keeps coming but the Panamanian way of life somehow
survives, and even thrives, with change.
Panama, the country — often-called “The Bridge between Two
Worlds” — is a crossroads of world culture and international trade.
Panama — the city — resembles much larger metropolitan centers in
that it is a melting pot for nationality and culture. Panama, the
people, is a cultural “Mezcla,” (mix) or “Mosaico,” (mosaic) of many
races and cultures under the lively and energized daily rhythm of
Latin society. Panama — the canal — functions in the lush, tropical
green forests entirely with fresh water. Panama, the word, is a
native term with the interchangeable meaning for “"many fish,” “many
trees,” or “many butterflies.”
Panama, “The Bridge between Two Worlds” since the beginning of
Spanish colonization of the Western Hemisphere, has been a transit
center of commerce and a crossroads of culture. The Spanish used
Panama as the point through which to transport the gold from the
Inca mines in Peru and Ecuador across the Isthmus and onward to
ports in Spain. Retaining its crossroads role, Panama and its canal
continue to transport goods to ports around the world. Commercial
enterprises, ships and planes from around the world bring not only
business but also the cultures from which they spring.
Wedged between North and South America, Panama appears pushed,
squeezed, twisted, and stretched by the two continents dangling on
either end. Panama’s snake-like “S” shape can disorient a new
arrival. North and South “become” East and West. One imagines that
in Panama City the sun rises in the West over the Pacific and sets
in the East over the Atlantic. The Panama Canal lets ships, some 40
a day, sail West and East but they must go North and South to do so.
South America lies to the East and to get to North America you head
West — to where the sun rises.
If we believe the old real estate adage, “location is
everything,” Panama has (almost) everything: The country largely
avoids the Pacific rim’s earthquakes and its “ring of fire,” and
escapes the Caribbean’s devastating tropical storms and hurricanes.
Geography gives Panama one of the world’s most amazing collections
of flora and fauna. North American and South American animals and
vegetation come together in a clash of color and life: a bird
watcher’s paradise, a fisherman’s dream, a “tree-hugger’s”
Tremendous growth and change are under way at this Crossroads of
the World. A major force for change in Panama as it enters the new
Millennium has been the transfer of the Canal, military bases and
support facilities from American to Panamanian hands. The outcome of
that process will largely determine how bright the future will be
Population Last Updated: 5/21/2004 1:54 PM
There are Panamanian-Jamaicans, Panamanian-Syrians, and
Panamanian-Chinese. If you can name the combination, Panama probably
has it. Panama has the world’s eighth highest percentage of Jewish
people in its population, and 25 different world religions recently
participated in celebrating the 125th anniversary of its oldest
synagogue. It also boasts the only mosque in Central America. The
blend of Hispanic, Indian and African heritages with other cultural
groups from around the world has produced a very distinctive
Direct descendants of the Spaniards who colonized the country
remain influential but no longer dominate Panama’s social, economic
and political life. Mixed-blooded Panamanians share prominent
political and professional status with the Spanish-descendant group
and participate fully in Panama’s diverse and influential social
circles. Much of Panama’s population is a mix of Spanish-Indian and
black Hispanic ancestry. Ethnic influences from China, India,
Europe, the Middle East, South and Central America can be found in
the middle class. Blacks of West Indian descent, whose ancestors
provided most of the labor in digging the canal, tend to be
concentrated in the provinces of Panama and Colon. Although North
American influence on Panama’s basic culture is evident in Panama
City and Colon, the history and heritage of these distinct ethnic
groups have combined to form the modern Panamanian way of life.
In the interior provinces, the ethnic makeup is more homogeneous.
The Spanish-Indian mixture is preponderant, and North American
influence on customs and mores is relatively minor.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 5/21/2004 1:56 PM
Panama is a centralized, constitutional presidential republic,
with nominally independent Judiciary and unicameral Legislative
Aseembly, but law and custom place most power in the hands of the
Executive. The Executive branch includes the President of the
Republic and two Vice Presidents, who are elected for five-year
terms, and the State Ministers or Cabinet Secretaries, appointed by
the President. Voting is by direct and secret ballot. A simple
plurality is needed for election.
The President, Vice Presidents, and Ministers of State together
form the Cabinet Council, which appoints the Magistrates of the
Supreme Court of Justice, the Attorney General, and the Solicitor
General, subject to legislative approval. The President and the
Cabinet approve, promulgate, and enforce laws passed by the
legislature; appoint police, provincial governors, and heads of
various public agencies; prepare a budget for legislative approval;
maintain public order; and conduct foreign affairs.
The President and Vice Presidents may be removed from office for
abusing their constitutional duties, for violent or coercive acts
during an electoral process, or for preventing the meeting of the
Legislative Assembly. The President and Vice Presidents need not
belong to the same political party.
Legislators cannot run as independents; they are nominated by a
party and are subject to its discipline. Legislators in multi-seat
circuits are chosen by proportional representation.
The Legislative Assembly determines most budget matters and
establishes public institutions. Legislators may censor Ministers
and impeach and try Presidents and Supreme Court justices. They may
override a presidential veto of approved legislation with a
two-thirds majority vote. The Assembly has the power to declare war
and grant amnesty for political crimes. It must approve appointments
of Supreme Court Justices, the Attorney General, the Solicitor
General, and other high administrative officials. Legislators enjoy
immunity from search and seizure and from prosecution when the
Assembly is in session. Legislators may lose their immunity by
waiving it, being caught in flagrante delicto, or by majority vote
of the Assembly.
The Judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of Justice, the
Electoral Tribunal, and the Attorney General’'s office (or Public
Ministry), which oversees Panama’s criminal police investigative
agency, the Judicial Technical Police. The Attorney General is
appointed for a 10-year term. The Constitution mandates a Judicial
branch budget of at least two percent of annual government revenue,
to establish its financial independence from the Legislative and
Supreme Court Justice are appointed by the Cabinet Council and
confirmed by the legislature for staggered 10-year terms with two
justices appointed every other year or as justices resign or retire.
The nine-member Court is divided into three-judge panels for civil,
criminal, and administrative cases. Its decisions are final and
binding. The Judicial branch is the ultimate interpreter of the
Panamanian constitution and of the constitutionality of the laws and
decrees of the Executive and Legislative branches. Panama is a civil
law country, with most law created by legislative codes rather than
A three-judge Electoral Tribunal oversees elections, with one
member each chosen by the Supreme Court, the legislature, and the
President. Supreme Court Justices appoint lower court judges.
Sitting judges may not engage in any other employment, except as law
professors, and are barred from all political activities, except
voting. The constitution establishes the right to trial by jury, but
the Legislative Assembly determines whether this right will apply in
cases against the President, Supreme Court Justices, or legislators
who have lost their immunity.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 5/21/2004 1:59 PM
Panama has a varied and often rewarding intellectual and cultural
life. The government’s Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INAC),
oversees Panama’s National Theater, School of Dance, School of Fine
Arts, Symphony Orchestra, and Ballet. Other significant cultural
organizations include the National Concert Association, which
sponsors concerts at the National Theater and Atlapa Convention
Center; the University of Panama, which presents concerts and art
exhibits; and an increasing number of smaller, private musical
theater and fine arts associations. In recent years the Youth
Symphony Orchestra has performed a January concert in the beautiful
setting of the Ruins of Old Panama with students from the Oberlin
Conservatory of Music in Ohio. You can listen to jazz at several
clubs and at occasional festivals in Panama City. Panama’s
architecture includes colonial homes in the interior and
Mediterranean-style villas in Panama City whose dramatic skyline has
been transformed in the past decade by recent construction of modern
public and commercial office buildings and high-rise condominiums.
UNESCO has designated Casco Viejo, the oldest part of modern Panama
City; a World Cultural Heritage site. The government is restoring
this section of old Panama City to resemble its appearance in
Among Panama’s 24 museums are the Interoceanic Canal Museum of
Panama with several fascinating newly refurbished exhibit halls, the
Museum of Contemporary Art with its collection of paintings and
sculpture, the Anthropological Museum, (Reina Torres de Araúz), the
new children’s museum, Museo del Niño y la Niña and arts and science
center, Explora. The noted architect has designed the Museum of
Biodiversity, soon to be constructed on the Amador Causeway in
There is fairly active art colony in Panama and several
Panamanian painters, musicians and writers have achieved
international recognition. Accomplishments in drama and dance have
been less notable, and the film industry is negligible. However,
recent filming of three major motion pictures and several television
series on location in Panama may bode well for Panama as a site for
film and television production.
The National Library in the suburbs of Panama city houses a fine
collection of books and periodicals and is host to readings,
concerts and art shows throughtout the year. Some bookstores also
sponsor readings and other cultural events.
Florida State University conducts research projects at the
Primate Refuge and Sanctuary of Panama. The Middle America Research
Unit of the National Institute of Health and the Smithsonian
Institution’s Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island
and associated field stations throughout Panama also carry out
research. The Smithsonian’s program attracks hundreds of scientist
from around the world who are engaged in research on the rain forest
and its canopy. (The rain forest is vital to the operation of the
Florida State University is operating at the sprawling campus
formerly housing the Panama Canal College and offers a 4-year
Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences as well as Associate’s
degrees in several fields. The University of Louisville offers
Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration. These
programs are open to all qualified individuals. Instruction is in
English, and course credits can be transferred to institutions in
the United States.
The Panamanian Government has used a portion of the reverted
areas from the U.S. military to establish an international research
and education center, the City of Knowledge. Several leading
international universities have expressed interest in establishing
programs at the City of Knowledge. They include the University of
California at Davis, Cornell, Texas A &M, Iowa, Williams College,
McGill, Florida Atlantic, Southern Methodist and Georgetown; some of
these universities are already offering courses in Panama.
Panamanians have historically attached great importance to
education. It’s literacy rate is 91.7% — one of the highest in Latin
America. There are a number of very good private schools in the
country. Many graduates of the Instituto Nacional, a public school
know throughout the country, have subsequently entered Panamanian
political life. The Ministry of Education is working to improve
instructional facilities, curriculum and teacher preparation and to
teach English throughout the country, but progress is very slow.
The University of Panama, the country’s largest, consists of a
main campus in Panama City and branches in eight regional centers in
the provinces and three university extensions. Total enrollment is
approximately 73,000. The Technological University of Panama, also
based in Panama City, has branches in seven provinces and a total
enrollment of 16,000. There are about 6,000 students enrolled in the
main campus and three regional branches of the private Catholic
university, Santa María la Antigua. In fact, a growing number of
private and foreign universities provide alternatives to the
struggling state university system. American officers receive a
cordial welcome at these universities, and many opportunities exist
for exchanges and cooperative programs. Instruction is in Spanish.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:05 PM
Taking advantage of Panama’s key location, the Government and
business communities have long promoted it as an international
trading, banking, and services center. Trade liberalization and
privatization during the mid-1990s have changed the face of the
capital’s downtown business district. People returning here marvel
at the changes after only a few years’ absence.
Panama’s $12 billion economy is based primarily on a
well-developed services sector that accounts for approximately 80
percent of GDP. Services include the Panama Canal, banking, legal
services, the Colon Free Zone (the second largest in the world),
insurance, container ports, and flagship registry. The sectors of
manufacturing, mining, utilities and construction, together, account
for 12 percent of GDP. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries make up
the about 7 percent of GDP. Primary products, some of which are
exported, include bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, meat dairy
products, tropical fruits, rice, and corn.
Panama’s merchandise imports are approximately $3.05 billion for
2003. The value of Panama’s total merchandise exports for 2003 are
estimated to be $713.6 million. Total bilateral trade with the U.S.
came to $1.7 billion in 2002.
U.S.exports were $1.4 billion and imports were $302 million. The
stock of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2001 was $25.3
billion. U.S. FDI is primarily concentrated in the financial
sector.The down turn of Panama’s economy, which started in 1999,
reversed itself during 2003. However, Panama still struggles to
overcome the departure of the U.S. military, low prices for its
primary exports, higher prices for petroleum imports, and until
recently reduced trade and investment due to the regional and
worldwide economic slowdown. However, growth in tourism,
telecommuncations, and maritime sectors along with a mini
construction boom portends that the 2003 gains in the Panamanian
economy should continue into 2004 if the global economic recovery
Panamas dollar-based economy offers low inflation and zero
foreign exchange risk for American companies. Consumer attitudes and
some brand preferences are often similar to the U.S. American
television and radio programs, and U.S. magazines are available and
popular in Panama. Panamanians frequently travel to the U.S. for
vacation, medical treatment, study, and business. U.S. products and
services are well accepted and highly competitive in most product
sectors. Sharply lower import duties have made U.S. products more
competitive with locally manufactured items in recent years. The
U.S. share of market in Panama was 40% in 2002, up from 32.5% the
Although Panama’s 2002 per capita GDP is among the highest in the
region at $3,699, this figure is unreliable as an indicator of
prosperity overall. Income distribution is skewed to the benefit of
a relatively small, consumer goods-oriented and entrepreneurial
class. These families have high levels of disposable income. The
Survey of Living Standards, produced by the World Bank and the
Government of Panama in 2000, estimated that 37% of all Panamanians
live in poverty, including over 50% of children under age 10, and
95% of the indigenous population.
Panama has no restrictions on the outflow of capital or outward
direct investment. Its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
in 1997 opened up trade and lowered tariffs across the board, giving
Panama the lowest average tariff rate in Latin America. The Moscoso
government reversed some of these reductions by raising some
agricultural good tariffs dramatically in late 1999 and early 2000
to their WTO bound rate.
Panama’s inflexible labor laws are a source of concern for
prospective investors. Firing practices are excessively regulated
which reduces labor mobility and inhibits hiring. The minimum wage
was recently increased to U.S. 268 monthly (in the capital). While
inexpensive in global terms, Panama’s minimum wage is relatively
high in a Central American context.
The privatization program in Panama has largely been concluded.
It started with the sale of a state cement company and a state-owned
fruit company. The Government awarded concessions for a private toll
road in 1994, cellular phone service and another private toll road
in early 1996, and two ports in mid-1996. Intel, the Panamanian
Telephone Company, was partially (49%) sold in mid-1997 and is now
being managed by the British firm, Cable & Wireless. The Cable &
Wireless monopoly ended in January 2003 for all fixed line, long
distance and international services. Government-owned casinos and
racetrack were privatized in 1998. The power parastatal was
restructured and converted into 8 companies, which were partially
sold to the private sector in August 1998. Four American companies
participated including Enron, Coastal, AES and Constellation. Two
sugar mills were privatized in 1998 to local groups with some
Automobiles Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:07 PM
An automobile is desirable in Panama City. Work, shopping, social
calls, official functions, and recreation are difficult without
personal transportation. While all models of vehicles are found on
the roads in Panama, many American personnel prefer sports utility
vehicles (SUVs). SUVs are popular because: traffic in Panama City is
extremely congested and drivers tend to be very aggressive; fender
bender accidents are numerous; SUVs are popular since they tend to
be heavier, sit higher, and surround their occupants with more metal
than sedans. Also, while the primary roads in Panama City are
reasonably well-maintained, secondary roads often have large
potholes. In addition, during the rainy season (April through
November) the amount of rainfall often exceeds the capacity of the
storm sewer system, turning roads into lakes. A high clearance
vehicle is much more likely to navigate these temporary lakes
(accompanied by large buses that create heavy “wakes”) than a sedan.
Finally, if you intend to “explore” the hinterlands of Panama and
neighboring Central American countries, a high-clearance,
four-wheel-drive vehicle is highly desirable. Air-conditioning is
considered essential. One drawback on driving a SUV is the cost of
gasoline, which tends to be higher than in the USA.
It is sometimes difficult to secure parts for automobiles.
Cars may be rented on a daily or long-term basis through several
U.S. companies. However, taxis are abundant, relatively inexpensive,
and are good for interim use. Another option is to purchase a used
car at post from departing mission members.
Direct-hire employees with two or more family members at post
that are duly authorized to drive motor vehicles may import free of
customs duty, taxes and related assessments more than one automobile
for their needs. Registered diplomats may sell their vehicles to
other diplomats six months after the vehicle has been registered or
to anyone else after two years after initial registration. In case
an employee has an assignment that is less than two years, he/she
may request permission to sell vehicles six months before the end of
the assignment. To import a new car free of taxes and duties, it
must be purchased at least 6 months before the end of an employee’s
assignment. Holder of diplomatic titles are issued diplomatic (CD)
license plates by the Foreign Office. Non-diplomatic members of the
U.S. Mission (Administrative and Technical staff) are issued ADM
The Ministry of Foreign Relations requires all diplomatic
personnel accredited to Panama to purchase local third-party
liability insurance. Additional casualty insurance is available from
several American-affiliated companies, but a policy made directly
with a company in the United States (such as Clements) is often less
expensive. Casualty insurance (collision, comprehensive, theft,
etc.) should be purchased in the United States from one of the
agencies that specialize in overseas vehicle insurance. It is
strongly recommended that policies provide “replacement” rather than
“depreciated” value as prices and availability are much different
here than in the United States. Post strongly recommends separate
casualty insurance for a vehicle in transit as ocean shipping lines
are liable for a maximum of $500 liability while a vehicle is in
Local Transportation Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:07 PM
Taxi service is readily available and inexpensive. However, care
must be used in selection as safety in some taxis is questionable.
City buses are often very poorly maintained and riding them is not
recommended for safety and security reasons.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:08 PM
Panama has two major highways. The Transisthmian Highway links
Panama City to Colon. A branch of the Inter American Highway extends
from the Costa Rican border to the town of Chepo, about 35 miles
beyond Panama City. Both roads are two to four lanes and paved.
Streets within Panama City and Colon are adequate but many can flood
during the rainy season.
American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Delta Airlines, COPA,
and other major foreign carriers operate daily flights to the United
States and other parts of the world from Panama’s Tocumen
International Airport. Flights to and from the United States pass
through Houston, Miami, Newark, Atlanta or Los Angeles. Aero Perlas,
Mapiex and Aero Taxi provide domestic air service. These flights
operate from Marco Gelabert Airport, a 20-minute drive from the city
center, at the former Albrook Air Force Base.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:09 PM
Telephone service in Panama City is excellent, and you have
nearly as many choices as you do in the United States for long
distance providers. Internet Service Providers are capable of
delivering up to 512 kilobytes per second using A-DSL or TV
cable-modem technology. Neither one of these options will tie-up
your phone lines, unlike the traditional dial-up services, which are
still available in Panama. International dialing rates vary
depending on country and time zone. Some comanies offer 15 cents a
minute off prime. Western Union Telegram facilities are excellent
and provide worldwide service.
Telephone Instruments/OpenNet Addresses
New arrivals are encouraged to ship one or two telephones in
their airfreight as neither the local telephone company nor the
embassy issues telephone instruments. Regular touch-tone or cordless
phones used in the U.S. will work fine here. On the cellular side,
there are several service providers in Panama, to include Bell South
and Cable & Wireless. If you already own a cellular phone you will
need to check the providers to verify whether or not they will
function here. All services are fairly stable and your decision
should be based on your personal usage needs. For those of you that
are having business card made before arrival, in most cases our
generic official Internet address (lastnameInitials@state.gov)
should remain the same from post to post.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:10 PM
The Embassy and attached agencies use military APO facilities.
The Embassy APO sells U.S. postage stamps and processes incoming and
outgoing APO mail and parcels for all Mission personnel.
For APO mail, regular U.S. postal charges are collected only for
the distance from Miami, Florida, to the point of origin/delivery.
Letters and packages sent to post via APO facilities should be
addressed as follows:
Your Section/Agency–Unit 0945
APO AA 34002
The street address to be used for FedEx and other local
American Embassy, Panama
Apartado 0816–02561, Zone 5
Panama, Rep. Panama
Diplomatic pouch facilities may not be used for personal mail or
parcels. Regular international mail facilities are available and
generally reliable service, however, may be somewhat slower than APO
Radio and TV Last Updated: 5/5/2004 3:35 PM
Though there are no English-language radio stations per se,
several of the local stations carry syndicated radio programming in
English. There are five local commercial TV stations, some of which
broadcast programs in English via television sets with the
capability to receive a Separate Audio Program (SAP). Some of these
stations broadcast sporting events and reruns of American feature
programs and movies.
Cable TV and Direct TV are available in Panama City for a fee and
provide a variety of satellite programming. Premium channels include
the Disney Channel, HBO/Cinemax, and Showtime. Basic cable service
includes 4 varieties of CNN, Fox, Warner Channel, TNT, Film and
Arts, and ESPN 1 and 2. There is usually an installation fee for new
subscriptions and monthly fees range from $35 for basic channels to
more than double that for highest level of service. DirecTV is
available with comparable prices and more channel listings. Some
apartment buildings also include their own satellite receivers.
Local cinemas are comparable in quality to those in the U.S., yet
prices are much lower. First run movies are shown in English with
Spanish subtitles, often shortly after their release in the U.S.
Local video stores rent both VHS and DVD at reasonable prices
comparable to Stateside, mostly recorded in English with Spanish
subtitles. It is important to note that Panama is Region 4 for DVD,
unlike the USA which is region 1. Unless your DVD player is
multizone, region 4 DVDs will not play on them. Some region 1 titles
are available at Blockbuster.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
5/21/2004 2:11 PM
Panamanians read six Spanish-language newspapers, including two
tabloids. The English-language international edition of The Miami
Herald is printed locally. All of Panama’s newspapers are available
on the Internet, as is the Internet English language weekly, Panama
Newstands, drug stores and major hotels sell many of the most
popular U.S. magazines and newspapers — including USA Today, the New
York Times, the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal — one
day after publication. They are also available through subscription,
but rates are higher than in the U.S. You can arrange for home
delivery of U.S. and Panamanian newspapers.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 5/18/2004 4:42 PM
U.S. citizens residing in Panama City generally receive good
health care services on the local economy. Three private hospitals
near the Embassy provide a full range of medical services and
support to our community. Specialty tests and equipment including
MRI, CT Scan, and ultrasound are available as well as hyperbaric
chambers. Several of the laboratories are affiliated with U.S.
reference labs and offer a wide range of service. English-speaking
U.S. or European-trained physicians represent nearly every medical
and dental specialization in Panama City. Overall, Embassy employees
have been very pleased with the quality of health care received in
Your prescription medications may not be available locally or may
be more expensive than in the U.S. Mail order pharmacy services
offer a convenient way to renew your prescriptions when posted
overseas. Check with your insurance carrier for specific benefits.
Remember all prescriptions must be written by a U.S. licensed
physician to use a mail order pharmacy. Many employees have their
personal/family physician in the U.S. write their prescriptions. If
it is a medication you have taken for a long time and you think the
dosage will not change, consider bringing a bulk supply with you.
Employees should review their insurance program before arriving
in Panama for appropriate overseas coverage. Bring a supply of claim
forms and know how to file the claims.
Embassy Health Unit.
The Mission maintains a Health Unit staffed by one full-time
registered nurse and one full-time secretary. The Regional Medical
Office or Foreign Service Health Practitioner visit post quarterly.
The primary function of this office is to promote the health of
all under its care by encouraging prevention of illness and
facilitating access to health care. Services include maintaining the
overseas medical record, providing medical orientation to post for
new arrivals, coordinating medical clearance physicals and medical
evacuations, providing local medical referral resources, monitoring
local public health issues and providing/coordinating health care
education. The nurse is also available to assist in genuine
emergencies and to administer first aid when accidents occur at
work. The Health Unit does not provide primary care services. We do
offer most of the routine childhood and adult immunizations as a
Health Unit service. Frequently there have been shortages of
vaccine. Post encourages employees and family members to update all
immunizations prior to post arrival. Several immunizations require a
series of shots and you must allow enough time to complete the
Community Health Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:13 PM
For a tropical country, Panama’s community health standards are
good. With normal precautions one can avoid most health hazards.
Traffic accidents are probably the greatest risk to Mission
employees. The city water supply is considered safe but it is
prudent to boil the water after any water main breaks or outages.
Travelers to remote areas should boil the water or use a water
purifier. Milk is pasteurized and bottled under sanitary conditions,
as are locally produced beers and other beverages. Domestically
produced meats are packaged and sold under generally sanitary
conditions in the larger grocery stores. Local fruits and vegetables
should be thoroughly washed before being eaten. Fresh fish and
seafood are plentiful and inexpensive. Many U.S. name brand foods
are available in local supermarkets.
Trash is collected daily in most areas of Panama City. Roaches,
ants, and other insects, as well as mice and rats are ever present
in this tropical climate, but with vigilance, they can be kept under
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:14 PM
Common medical complaints include colds, allergies, upper
respiratory infections and diarrhea. The humidity, mold, and pollens
may aggravate existing sinus and asthmatic conditions. Swimmer’s ear
is a common complaint among children and adults.
Anti-malarial medication is not required in Panama City or areas
of the former Canal Zone. There are rural areas that have seen a
significant increase in malaria in the last two years. Anti-malarial
medication is recommended in the areas of Bocas del Toro, the
Darien, and San Blas, including the islands. Please refer to the
Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov for the latest in travel
Other diseases include dengue fever, influenza, hepatitis and
hantavirus. Hepatitis is considered a significant health threat and
Mission members are encouraged to obtain the Hepatitis A and B
series of vaccinations before arriving at post. Tuberculosis is
endemic and common among residents in the poorer areas. As of March
2001, approximately 3,830 cases of AIDS had been diagnosed in the
country with a 75% mortality rate and an estimated 30,000 to 38,000
HIV positive individuals. Health education about AIDS and infectious
diseases is included in the orientation to post.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:15
Although the United States has signed a bilateral work agreement
with Panama that makes it possible for spouses to work on the local
economy, it is not easy to predict employment opportunities for
them. There are a few positions available for nurses, teachers,
secretaries and clerical help. Knowledge of Spanish is often,
although not always, a requirement and salary scales are usually not
at U.S. levels. The Mission keeps vacancies in locally-hired
positions open for adult dependents of full-time, direct hire
American employees. In general, the policy is to identify the
best-qualified applicants for any vacancy. Many jobs are at local
salary levels, but there are positions in the Mission that pay at
higher levels. All positions are subject to funding availability.
Special projects may arise from time to time for which applications
will be solicited.
Dependent youth hiring for summer employment varies depending on
funding and the willingness of various agencies to participate in
the program. Salaries are roughly equivalent to minimum wage in the
For information prior to arrival at post you may wish to contact:
Human Resources Office
Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
Community Liaison Office (CLO)
Unit 0945, APO AA 34002
American Embassy - Panama City
Post City Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:15 PM
Panama City, the capital and the principal city of the Republic
of Panama, is situated on the Pacific side of the country. Often
called the Crossroads of the World, Panama City offers a uniquely
international ambiance and an active lifestyle with modern shopping
centers, art expositions, and many excellent restaurants.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:16 PM
The U.S. Mission in Panama represents the United States as a key
player in the future success of the country and in the current state
of transition. The Mission changed radically in the twilight years
of the Twentieth Century. It absorbed some of the key functions
previously handled by the military. Now, over two dozen U.S.
Government agencies at post make Panama resemble a scaled-down
version of some of the most complex U.S. Missions in the world.
The Ambassador, assisted by the DCM, heads the U.S. Mission.
The Chancery is located on Avenida Balboa between 38th and 39th
streets, facing the Bay of Panama. The Ambassador and DCM, the
Political and Economic Sections, Regional Security Office,
Information Program Center, Coast Guard, Legal Attaché, Defense
Attaché Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S.
Customs Service are all located in the Chancery.
The Management Office, Information Management Office, Information
Systems Office, Budget and Fiscal, Human Resources, General
Services, the Medical Unit, Travel, CLO, the Foreign Commercial
Service, Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), the Public
Affairs Section and Consulate are located in a separate leased
building in Clayton, former military base, Building # 520, Demetrio
Basilio Lakas Street.
The telephone number for the Chancery and all other offices
listed above is (country code 507) 207-7000.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) is located in Altos de Curundu, Building
# 573, in Panama City (Tel.: 232–6709).
USAID is located on the second floor of the Plaza Regency
Building on Via España (Tel.: 263–6011).
Travelers arriving by air enter Panama through Tocumen
International Airport, 11 miles northeast of Panama City. New
arrivals are met, assisted through customs, and escorted to their
quarters. It is imperative that new arrivals notify the Mission of
their date and time of arrival well in advance. This information is
needed for the orderly scheduling of Mission support activities and
assignment of sponsors. A welcome packet will be sent to new
arrivals when the Mission is given sufficient advance notice.
Duty hours for the Mission are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.
to 5:00 p.m. with 1 hour for lunch. USAID hours are Monday through
Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with 30 minutes for lunch.
A Marine Guard is on duty at the Chancery at all times.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:17 PM
Every effort is made to place new arrivals into their assigned
housing upon arrival. If this is not possible, the embassy will
provide temporary housing either in a hotel or in vacant government
quarters. GSO can provide welcome kits for new arrivals who are
awaiting their airfreight shipments and/or are in temporary
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:19 PM
Nearly all Mission members and families are housed in
government-leased residences, though a few agency-specific
exceptions occupy privately leased quarters. The housing pool is a
mix of apartments and single-family homes. Current post policy is to
assign families of three or more in single family homes whenever
possible. Single officers or families of two will be assigned to
apartments. (Note: At the time of this report, acceptable
single-family homes available for lease were in short supply and
post has not been able to guarantee a house for every incoming
family). Currently, leased apartments are located in downtown Panama
City less than five miles from the chancery. Apartments typically
have no more than three bedrooms. The buildings themselves usually
include social areas, swimming pools, exercise rooms, and play areas
Single-family homes have small walled-in yards, and often have
smaller living areas than the apartments we lease. Houses currently
under lease are in two areas: the former Canal Zone and a housing
estate close to the International School of Panama. The houses in
the former Canal Zone are very close to the newly-opened Clayton
Building which contains many mission elements: Consular, Management,
Public Diplomacy, Foreign Commercial Service, Citizenship and
Immigration, Community Liaison Office, Information Systems, and the
Medical Unit. Another State Department-supported school, the Balboa
Academy, is also nearby. The new Embassy compound that is scheduled
for completion in 2007 will be in the same area. The second housing
area (‘Costa del Este’) is closer to the current chancery, downtown
Panama City, and the Panama International School.
The Embassy’s Interagency Housing Board (IAHB) has final approval
for housing assignments. The Housing Section has a Housing
Questionnaire that it sends to all newly assigned personnel. The
GSO’s Housing Section and the IAHB will make housing assignments
based on this questionnaire, the housing provisions of 6 FAM 700,
and Embassy Panama’s Housing Policy. Housing assignments take into
account the rank of the position and the number of family members on
assignment orders that are at post full-time. Every effort is made
to provide Embassy staff with housing that is suitable and
appropriate for the official and his/her family.
The Ambassador’s residence in Panama is a large structure
designed and built by the Department of State and first occupied in
1941. The house contains one master suite (including a master
bedroom, a study, and a private bathroom); four other bedrooms (one
with a private bath and another two that share a bathroom); a foyer;
a large drawing room/library; a formal dining room which seats 24; a
family dining room which seats eight; two small porches, ample
representational space; servants' quarters, and a three-car garage.
An open patio, swimming pool and a tennis court provide other
entertainment areas. The residence is furnished and has draperies.
Crystal, china, and silverware service for thirty-six are provided.
The Marine Security Guard Detachment occupies Government-leased
Furnishings Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:23 PM
The Embassy provides basic furnishings for all State employees at
post. For State employees, GSO has established a standardized policy
for the reupholstering furniture and replacing curtains. Curtains of
a neutral color will be selected for the living room, dining room,
and bedrooms. In some cases, venetian blinds are installed in
bedrooms. When possible, all housing units will have presentable
curtains/blinds installed prior to occupancy. Furniture that has
been cleaned or reupholstered in a neutral color will be placed in
assigned quarters. Post currently does not have an upholstery or
curtain allowance.sic furniture provided to State employees in
Panama usually includes:
Living Room: sofa, 2 occasional chairs, love seat, floor lamp, 2
table lamps, bookcase, accessory table, and 2 end tables;
Dining Room: dining table, 2 armchairs, 6–8 side chairs, china
Bedroom 1: queen-size bed, 2 matching lamps, occasional chair, chest
of drawers, mirror, dresser, 2 night stands, desk, desk chair;
Other Occupied Bedrooms: 2 twin beds, 2 matching lamps, chest of
drawers, mirror, dresser, 2 night stands;
Kitchen: refrigerator, gas/electric range (depending upon residence
Utility Room: washer and dryer.
A limited number of desks and extra bookcases are available for
students. Other furniture is provided on an as-available basis.
Present Embassy policy is to provide one air-conditioner for each
bedroom and a unit/units in the living room/dining room if the
landlord does not provide air conditioners. The Embassy does not
provide air conditioners for kitchens or laundry rooms. The Embassy
does not provide rugs. You may want to bring your own occasional
rugs, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, extra lamps, decorative
items, etc. Rugs and many of these items can be purchased locally.
Since domestic helpers are very common in Panama, very few
residences have dishwashers. Some employees have found the portable
variety that can be hooked up to the kitchen sink to be worthwhile.
Keep in mind that Panama has a tropical climate and also many
varieties of termites. Expensive furniture pieces often suffer more
in the hot humid climate than inexpensive furniture. You can bring
books and records, though you will need to take special care to
prevent mildew. Pianos may require special consideration for the
tropics that should be checked before being brought.
OTHER AGENCIES may have furnishing policies that vary. Employees
of those agencies should check directly with their own agencies to
verify those policies before planning their shipments.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 5/18/2004 6:04 PM
Apartments have both hot and cold water in kitchens, bathrooms,
and laundry rooms. Bathrooms have modern fixtures, usually with a
built-in shower stall instead of a bathtub (which are rare in
Panama) . Electrical current is U.S. Standard 110v, 60-cycle, AC.
U.S. standard light bulb screw sockets and flat 2-prong electrical
plugs are used, sometimes with polarized American-style slots. Most
residences have limited wiring for electric stoves and
air-conditioners. Since electricity in Panama is very expensive,
gas-operated stoves are common.
Food Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:28 PM
Modern supermarkets in Panama City provide a wide variety of
American and ethnic foods. Seafood, meat, fruits, vegetables, and
canned and packaged goods are readily available in Panamanian shops,
although prepared foods, which are imported from the U.S. or
elsewhere, can be expensive. The most popular supermarkets include
Super 99 “Super Noventa y Nueve”, Casa de la Carne (The House of
Meat), Riba Smith and Rey. A large Costco PriceSmart offers
household goods and groceries in a membership-warehouse style of
Yuca, squash, and chayote are among the most popular Panamanian
vegetables Traditional Panamanian food includes many dishes with
rice: rice with lentils, with chicken (grilled, baked), and meat.
Popular soups that many Panamanians enjoy include “Sancocho” a style
of chicken soup. The Panamanians also love juices. There are
numerous juice bars around the city where health fanatics can quench
their thirst by getting cups of freshly squeezed watermelon,
pineapple, carrot, orange, coconut juice, etc. A popular drink,
which one should try, is called “Arroz con Piña,” a flavored-rice
drink with pineapple.
Restaurants vary widely in both cost and cuisine. A full lunch in
a good restaurant near the Embassy is less than ten dollars. Kiosks
and snack bars sell snacks and lunches for considerable less. There
are also numerous top quality restaurants around the city that
specialize in seafood, Chinese, Italian, Thai, German, Swiss and
other cuisines. For those who crave the American-style fast food
there are the numerous U.S. chains like Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza,
McDonald’s, Burger-King, KFC, Wendy’s, Don Lee, Bennigan’s, and TGIF.
For breakfast/dessert there is a nice place, known for its design
and delicious food, called Crepes and Waffles. The Gamboa Resort on
the Canal Road north of Panama City and several hotels in Panama
City serve Sunday brunch.
Clothing Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:29 PM
General. Summer clothes are worn year round in Panama. Cottons
are the most comfortable, but cotton blends are satisfactory.
Fabrics that are 100% synthetic neither absorb moisture nor
“breathe” and are uncomfortable in Panama’s humid climate. Many
office buildings are overly air-conditioned so a light jacket or
sweater can come in handy.
Retail shops carry all types of clothing suitable for the
Panamanian climate. They carry name brands such as Nautica, Docker,
Levis, Polo, Georgio Armani. Prices in the local retail stores can
be higher than U.S. prices.
Shops carrying good clothing are located along Via España. Dante,
located in El Dorado, Los Pueblos, and Punta Paitilla also carries
Men Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:32 PM
Men. Casual sports attire is the rule outside the office. The
guayabera, a long, un-tucked embroidered shirt, is frequently worn
for daytime or evening social functions and can be purchased
locally. Attire for male staff during working hours may be shirt and
tie but many Panamanians prefer either the “guayabera” or a
short-sleeved shirt. For social and representational functions,
senior officers will occasionally need a dark business suit. Daytime
formal functions require white shirt, black shoes, and pearl-gray
four-in-hand ties. Junior officers and male staff members may find
it useful to include one dark business suit in their wardrobes.
Affairs calling for tuxedos for men and formal evening dress for
women, such as the Marine Corps Birthday Ball and Damas del Cuerpo
Diplomático Charity Ball are rare, but do occur. Tuxedos may be
rented locally. A dark tuxedo is the preferred fashion for black tie
affairs, although a white dinner jacket is not uncommon. White-tie
full dress is never worn.
Women Last Updated: 5/19/2004 9:24 AM
Women. Female officers and staff members are most comfortable in
lightweight suits or tailored or otherwise professional-looking one
or two-piece dresses. A blazer, whether in a traditional color or
something more tropical, is a useful addition to a working wardrobe.
Casual outfits should be brought for general use. Beachwear, shorts,
and slacks are essential for recreational purposes. Shorts are not
generally worn on the streets, but pants are acceptable. Sun hats
are recommended when outdoors. All women should have a good supply
of dresses for cocktail-buffet parties and informal dinners, and
ranking officers, or wives of ranking officers, should have one or
two formal evening dresses. In recent years, the trend in female
formal wear in Panama has been toward street-length rather than long
Children Last Updated: 5/19/2004 9:25 AM
Children. Girls wear mostly shirts or blouses with slacks, jeans
or skirts. Boys wear long pants (mostly jeans) or shorts with
T-shirts or sport shirts. Most private schools require school
uniforms, which vary from school to school.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:33 PM
Many American brands of toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, tobacco
products, cleaning materials, and household and entertainment
accessories are available at prices slightly above or below those in
the Washington area. Comparison shopping in the many retail outlets
and shopping centers, as well as along Avenida Central (where many
Panamanians do their shopping) can result in savings. Local brands
are available at retail stores for very reasonable prices.
Basic Services Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:33 PM
Panama City has good facilities for shoe repair, laundry and
dry-cleaning, and radio and automobile repair. Beauty and
barbershops are also available, along with competent tailoring and
dressmaking services. Automotive repairs are available at a wide
range of dealerships (usually more expensive) and also at small,
specialty shops (at lower cost). Quality may vary and, again,
comparison-shopping can result in savings. Parts are often more
expensive than in the U.S.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:35 PM
Both day and live-in maids are available in Panama City. Live-in
maids are provided room, board, uniforms, 13th-month bonus (1
month’s wage), vacation pay (1 month’s wage), Seniority Payment (1
week’s wage per year of service) and Social Security. Legally, the
employer’s Social Security contribution is 10.75 percent of the
monthly salary; the employee’s share is 7.25 percent. It is not
unusual, however, for the employer to pay the total Social Security
payment. Average monthly cost for a live-in maid is $100–$200 plus
the above additional expenses.
The average cost for a part-time day worker is $12.00 or more per
day. The 13th month bonus and paid vacation are prorated for
Embassy personnel should contact the RSO to conduct a records
check through the local police on all domestic employees prior to
Foreign Domestic Maid.
Diplomats can bring their foreign domestic maids to Panama to
work exclusively for them and their family. The Human Resources
Office processes the issuance of the Panamanian visa for maids
through the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The visa is usually given
for a one-year period, after which the passport needs to be sent to
the Ministry of Foreign Relations to get the visa renewed.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 5/17/2004 10:53 AM
Panama has a strong Catholic tradition, as evidenced by churches,
shrines, and religious processions, particularly during the Holiday
season. Other religious groups also have adherents. Panama is the
only Central American country to have two mosques for the Islamic
faithful. Panama also has the eighth largest Jewish population in
the world., with very active synagogues and religious life.
Protestant denominations abound, and non-denominational services are
available at several locations.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:38 PM
Post has experience with the following two schools: Balboa
Academy and the International School of Panama (ISP).
Balboa Academy opened its doors to pre-kindergarten through 12th
grade (Pre-K–12) levels starting on September 9, 1999, but achieved
U.S. accreditation for its program in late 2000, in almost record
time. The academy is located in a building formerly housing a
Department of Defense Dependents (DODDS) School at Fort Clayton,
about 20–30 minutes from the Embassy. The concept and formation of
the school originated with a group of teachers and administrators
employed with DODDS. Grades Pre-K through 12 follow U.S. curricula
and the U.S. school term from late August to mid-June. The school
year consists of two semesters with vacation breaks in December (3
weeks), spring (1 week), and summer (2 months).
Additionally, Balboa Academy offers an enrichment program for
gifted and talented students as part of its daily program. The
academy has available at no extra cost a remedial program for
students with very mild learning disabilities in math and reading.
The school has service providers who can offer medically-related
services such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Parents
pay for such medically-related services.
Balboa Academy welcomes children with Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and has teachers trained to interact
with them. The school has a nurse on campus who will work with
medically related service providers. Extracurricular activities at
Balboa include art, drama, dance and sports, such as soccer and
volleyball. Additional information may be found at Balboa Academy’s
International School of Panama.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the
International School of Panama (ISP), which was founded in 1982 by a
group of interested parents from the Panamanian and international
community. It offers a K–12 curriculum. It is located in the area of
Cerro Viento (about a 30–45 minute ride from the Embassy) and
consists of 40 classrooms that include laboratories for art,
computers and science. All classrooms are spacious and
air-conditioned. The library/media center contains 12,000 volumes.
The teachers are from the U.S., Panama, and other countries. ISP
offers both the regular high school diploma and the International
ISP students may have the opportunity of participating in the
Hague Model United Nations and sports events in Central America.
Applications for admission to the International School are accepted
at any time during the year. Classes are limited to a maximum of 24
students. The school counselor or other qualified staff member tests
all students at the time of registration.
If you would like to initiate the admission process before
arriving in Panama, please contact the CLO at (507) 207–7315. The
school year runs from early August to late June, with approximately
7 weeks of vacation from just before Christmas until the end of
You can reach ISP at (507) 266–7862/9532 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information is available in ISP’s website www.isp.edu.pa
Post has also surveyed additional alternative schools:
A) Crossroads (Elementary)
B) St. Mary’s School (K–12, Panamanian school calendar)
C) The Oxford School (K–12)
D) Instituto Panamericano (IPA) (K–12)
E) Colegio Episcopal de Panama (K–12)
F) SEK International (K–12)
For further information on these schools, please contact the CLO
at (507) 207–7315.
All school supplies can be purchased locally. Supervised
after-school activities have included: computers, soccer, baseball,
field hockey, floor hockey, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and arts
and crafts. Student and adults enjoy cayuco (kayak) racing on the
Panama Canal. The Embassy employees association (AERA) has sponsored
teams of cayuco racers. There is a Girl Scout troop at post and
American citizen volunteers are always needed. The troop has
frequent camp-outs. If your child plans to participate, she will
need good, sturdy camping equipment. All of this can be purchased
locally. If you prefer certain brands, bring them with you.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:40 PM
Florida State University (Panama Canal Campus) offers Bachelor of
Science degrees in international affairs, environmental studies,
information studies, social science and Latin American studies. Up
to 3 years of the bachelor’s degree in business may be completed at
FSU. In addition, students may complete 60–90 semester credit hours
toward the 120 required for a degree in business administration. The
last 30 credit hours must be taken in Florida. Tuition at Florida
State is $120 per semester credit hour. Several Embassy students
have attended Florida State with good results.
Nova University offers several degrees at the Panama Learning
Center, which was founded in 1977. These include a Bachelor of
Science degree in professional management, a Master of Arts degree
in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language,
and a Master’s degree in business administration and computer
programs. The cost per credit hour ranges from $125 for
undergraduates to $200 for graduate courses.
University of Louisville offers a Master of Science degree in
professional management, a Master’s degree in human resources
management, and a Master’s degree in business administration and
The above institutions are fully accredited. For additional
information, they may be contacted at the following addresses:
Florida State University
Panama Canal College Campus
La Boca Rd. College St. 1033
Balboa, Ancón, Republic of Panama
Tel.: (507) 272–1574
P. O. Box 3318
Balboa, Ancón, Republic of Panama
Tel.: (507) 232–7062
University of Louisville
P.O. Box 833–0152
Rep. of Panama
Tel.: (507) 210–1464
The University of Panama is located in Panama City. In general,
you must successfully complete a 5-year course to obtain a degree.
The university will accept certificates from recognized secondary
schools. Many classes are held in the evening and all instructions
are in Spanish. For further information, contact the University of
Panama at Urbanización El Cangrejo, Republic of Panama.
Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigüa (USMA) is the oldest
and largest private university of Panama, and the only Catholic
university in Panama. It has 36 years of experience providing a
first class education in all the fields of human knowledge and has
an enrollment of more than 5,000 students in five different
faculties: Business Administration, Law, Science and Technology,
Human Sciences and Social Sciences. USMA has more than 25 different
undergraduate careers and more than 30 graduate programs. Their web
page is http://www.usma.ac.pa.
The YMCA holds classes in Spanish, cooking, art, oil painting,
ceramics, design, jewelry making, bridge, swimming, scuba diving,
and a variety of other subjects.
Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:41 PM
American Employees Recreation Association (AERA).
AERA sponsors community projects, such as transportation for
summer school. It supports the programs of the Community Liaison
Office, including parties for Mission children. It raises funds that
enable Mission teenagers to participate in such events as to the
annual cayuco (kayak) races on the Panama Canal by raising
donations. AERA sponsors an annual talent/no-talent show, St.
Patrick’s Day family picnic, and a Fourth of July cook-out. The AERA
shop sells souvenirs, books, T-shirts and Embassy logo items.
Additional, AERA services include member discounts at local hotels
and restaurants and diplomatic car sales assistance.
Sports Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:42 PM
Organized athletic programs for adults are limited, but you can
participate on an individual basis in almost any warm-weather sport.
The city has a number of swimming pools, tennis courts, golf
courses, and stables. You can purchase athletic equipment of all
Several hotels offer memberships that allow use of their pools,
gyms, and other recreational facilities. There are several quality
health clubs in the city. Private gymnasiums in Paitilla offer
aerobics and weightlifting. A variety of private social athletic
clubs in Panama include the Club de Golf de Panama, the Club de
Montaña, Altos del Lago, the Club de Yates y Pesca, and the Club
Union. You can join such clubs as Los Altos del Cerro Azul that are
located in the cool mountains an hour’s from Panama City.
Deep-sea and fresh-water fishing in the waters in and around
Panama are among the best in the world. You can use most types of
freshwater and saltwater tackle. Fishing in Gatun Lake for Peacock
Bass is a popular pastime, and it is not unusual for one person to
come home with 15–20 fish. You can rent or hire water craft for
modest fees at several locations in Panama to water-ski, fish,or
For the hunter, a variety of wild fowl, small game animals, and
some larger animals such as deer abound. Most hunters in Panama use
a shotgun, but air rifles are also used occasionally. Panama has a
trap-shoot club, as well as several rifle ranges in the city.
Neither hunting nor fishing license are required in Panama. However,
the Panamanian government does require a gun permit and the Embassy
requires registration of all firearms.
Horse-racing, boxing and baseball are the favorite spectator
sports in Panama. Panamanians are very proud of the native sons that
play on U.S. major league baseball teams. Baseball, basketball,
softball and soccer are played extensively on the amateur level.
Facilities are available for squash, racquetball, volleyball, and
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:48 PM
A small zoo is located at Summit, about a 25 minute ride from
downtown Panama. The Panama Canal Experimental Gardens are a popular
spot for visits or picnics. Barro Colorado Island is a biological
research center and forest preserve that is located in Gatun Lake
within the canal system; you may arrange a day trip to explore this
site where the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute studies local
flora and fauna.
Museums include the Canal Area Museum, Museum of Contemporary
Art, the National Museum of Panama, and the Museum of the Panamanian
Man, with its interesting collection of pre-Columbian pottery and
Another point of interest is the ruins of “Panama Viejo,” the
first Panamanian city on the Pacific side of the isthmus, which was
founded by the Spaniards in 1519. The pirate Henry Morgan destroyed
it in 1671. The Church of San Jose, with its famous Golden Altar, is
another well-known site located in the colonial sector of Panama
City. According to legend, the altar was saved from the assaults of
Morgan the Pirate in the year 1671 when it was painted with
whitewash to look like wood.
You can find a moderate change of climate in El Valle (2,000
feet) in the Cordillera de Veraguas, 80 miles from Panama, where
several hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns are available. El Valle
also features thermal mud baths, a zoo, waterfall and horseback
riding as well as a weekly Indian artisan market. On the western
edge of Panama near Costa Rica are Boquete and Volcan. At elevations
of 4,000 and 7,000 feet, they offer spectacular mountain scenery, a
cool climate, and good hotels. Contadora Island in the Las Perlas
Archipielago is seventeen minutes by air from Panama City. The
resort-like island offers a hotel, private homes that may be rented
and beautiful beaches. A smaller island, Taboga, is easily
accessible by ferry in one hour from Panama City. Taboga offers
hotel/restaurant on the beach and good snorkeling, plus a trail
through a rain forest. The Bocas del Toro island chain is an hour
flight from Albrook airport. You can hire boats and explore the
reefs or just spend time beachcombing.
San José, Costa Rica is accessible by air at a reasonable price.
By car, San José Costa Rica is about thirteen hours from Panama
City. The Colombian Island of San Andres, as well as Bogota,
Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Cartagena in Colombia are also
within easy reach by air. Country clearance must be obtained from
the U.S. Embassy in Bogota prior to any travel to Colombia.
There are Pacific beaches approximately 60–90 minutes from Panama
City. Beaches on the Atlantic side (Caribbean Sea) can be reached in
a two to three-hour drive. Both areas provide a number of good
beaches and varied facilities.
Entertainment Last Updated: 5/17/2004 12:30 AM
Panama City has a number of fine indoor theaters, as well as
those in the reverted areas, where first-run American films are
shown. Those shown in the city are in English with Spanish
sub-titles. Video stores also abound. No professional theater
exists, but a few small theater groups produce plays periodically in
Spanish and English. The Ancon Theater Guild has an active
production schedule and there has been high interest and involvement
from the Mission community.
Visiting musical artists and dance groups present concerts and
recitals, either under the sponsorship of the National Concert
Association, the National Institute of Culture or various embassies.
The National Symphony and the Ballet Company also perform
A few cocktail lounges feature small combos and the major hotels
have Happy Hours with local variety artists. Jazz is popular at
During the dry season, you can watch folk dancing in native
costumes at the picturesque ruins of Old Panama and in some interior
towns. A number of small fairs and festivals are held in the
provinces at various times during the year. The Atlapa Convention
Center attracts a few big name musicals and dance groups. Most of
the productions charge big-city prices for tickets.
Among Americans Last Updated: 5/21/2004 2:52 PM
Ample opportunities exist for social contact with both Panamanians
and American residents of Panama. Many resident Americans play
important roles in business and professional circles.
There are a number of social, vocational and fraternal
organizations in the reverted areas. For example, some Mission
members belong to the American Society. The Panama Audubon Society
offers unique bird and nature study opportunities, and a Junior
Audubon Society was established in 1986 to sponsor monthly outings
and activities for children ages nine and over. The “Who's New” is
another active and well-organized club where Americans may meet and
mix with people of other nationalities. This club offers a book
study group, children's play groups, bridge, tennis and a variety of
other activities in addition to monthly coffees.
The American Mission Organization (AMO) sponsors various social,
cultural and charitable events throughout the year. Membership is
restricted to American employees only. Some functions are restricted
to members while others are open to the entire Mission, including
Panamanians and Americans. Most functions are funded by membership
donations, which are $ 20.00 per family per year.
Many spouses are active in a diplomatic spouses group, La
Asociación de las Damas Diplomáticas, which provides opportunities
for social contact with other members of the diplomatic corps and
their spouses. All diplomatic missions in Panama are represented and
hosting of functions is rotated among the various Mission
Extracurricular activities for school-age children include Girl
Scouts as well as cayuco (kayak) racing on the Panama Canal for men
and women, boys and girls of all nationalities.
International Contacts Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:01 PM
Apply the same techniques here to get to know people that you would
use to develop social contacts in any overseas community. Knowledge
of Spanish helps considerably. Many Panamanians speak English but
most prefer to speak Spanish. There are many local expressions and
special definitions of terms here. In 2000, Post established a Post
Language Program including a Language Training Laboratory. Another
innovative feature is the Immersion Program in El Valle, a beautiful
mountain town about two hours from Panama, where eligible Embassy
employees and dependents may be assigned for one or two-week periods
to live with a Panamanian family.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:02 PM
Official ceremonial functions are widely spaced in Panama.
Ceremony and protocol are kept to a minimum. Usually, only senior
officials of the Mission are required to attend such functions.
Senior officials of the Embassy can be kept busy by a steady
round of engagements, ranging from occasional official functions to
numerous semiofficial and strictly social affairs. While only senior
officials or those in certain offices normally receive invitations
as a result of their official positions, numerous other social
opportunities grow out of informal relationships developed both in
and out of work. Everyone can look forward to at least a moderate
amount of social activity depending on personal preference.
Many Embassy officers are expected to bear a share of
representational responsibilities. The major share of this
responsibility falls on higher ranking officers, but middle-grade
and junior officers may host occasional business luncheons or
informal gatherings in their homes.
Entertaining in Panama tends to be informal and centers around
cocktail parties, cocktail-buffets, small dinner parties and working
When you are invited to an official function at the Ambassador’s
or DCM’s residence, arrival 10 to 15 minutes before the event is
scheduled to begin is standard practice.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:03 PM
It is mandatory for the Chief of Mission to make official calls
after his/her arrival at post. For others it is appropriate but not
required. Other officers should bring up to 200 cards. “Mr. and
Mrs.” fold-over cards may be conveniently used for issuing or
replying to invitations.
Staff employees are not required to observe protocol formalities,
but a number of personal calling cards are always useful.
Business cards and invitations can be printed locally at
Special Information Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:03 PM
Post Orientation Program
The Mission’s Community Liaison Office holds formal orientation
sessions on a regular basis. The chiefs of the attached agencies and
the Embassy sections explain their functions and contributions to
the Mission. The officer offers a cultural adaptation program to all
employees, spouses and older children shortly after arrival, with a
follow-up six months later.
The Post Training Policy under the auspices of the Human
Resources Office (HRO), and Management Counselor. For more
information on Post-based training opportunities, contact HRO at
The Post Language Program currently employs one Spanish teacher.
Small classes at various levels of proficiency are offered daily at
the Junet Building, adjacent to the Chancery and at the Clayton
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:04 PM
Unaccompanied airfreight normally arrives within thirty days from
the date of pack-out. An additional ten to fifteen working days
should be allowed for clearance and delivery after employee arrival
and accreditation through the Foreign Ministry. Household effects
coming from the United States arrive within four to six weeks from
the day of shipment. Shipments from other posts require from four to
ten weeks in transit. GSO will clear household effects through
Customs when a copy of the ocean bill of lading is obtained from the
shipper (U.S. Dispatch Agent or other). This normally takes about
eighteen working days.
Household effects, airfreight and vehicle should be marked as
American Embassy — Panama
FOR: (employee’s name)
Phone No. (507) 207–7000
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:05 PM
Customs clearance and other processing take approximately ten
working days from the time your shipping documents arrive in Panama.
All diplomatics as well as administrative and technical staff enjoy
customs and duty-free entry privileges for all items during the
first year of their assignment. American currency, traveler’s
checks, or other money instruments can be freely imported.
Five identical 1½ x 1½ size photos for carnets/drivers licenses
plus two identical 1½ x 1½ photos for children age fifteen and over
are required immediately after arrival. These can be obtained
locally at low cost and on short notice if you are unable to bring
them with you.
Passage Last Updated: 5/18/2004 6:16 PM
A Panamanian visa is required for travelers using a diplomatic or
Pets Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:06 PM
Please notify the GSO section as early as possible if you plan to
bring pets to Panama. This will help smooth their entry into the
country, and allow our housing search to accommodate pets’ needs as
much as possible. Employees with pets should check with airlines
early as pets may face restrictions or prohibitions, depending on
the airline, seasonal temperatures, etc.
The Government of Panama prohibits the arrival of pets before
their owners. The Government also requires the following documents
to import a pet: a health certificate (valid for ten days from date
of issuance), a rabies vaccination certificate, a stamped
certification from a Panamanian Embassy/Consulate, and a copy of
your travel orders. These documents must be attached to the outside
of the animal's cage. Please note the following requirements:
Pets should be sent to the following address:
c/o American Embassy
Panama City, Republic of Panama
Telephone: (507) 207–7000 ext. 7497, 7360
Animals will be given a new rabies shot upon arrival ($4) at the
quarantine area in Tocumen International airport if the vaccination
Animals may remain in the Panamanian National quarantine facility
for 24 hours until GOP authorities have examined the documents.
Thereafter, an additional forty day of “home quarantine” are
Fees are: (approximate costs)
$10 complete examination for the cat or dog
$5 importation permit
$130 cost for home quarantine
The fees are payable at the Banco Nacional de Panama, branch
office at Tocumen International Airport in cash or travelers check.
Try to schedule the arrival of your pet between 8:00 a.m. to 12:00
noon. After above itinerary, we have to plan a special appointment
with Government of Panama authorities.
Shipping birds, wild animals or other exotic pets is more
complicated. Please contact the Embassy Shipping Department before
Please advise GSO via fax (507) 207–7495, or e-mail with the
following pet shipment information: flight number and date; place of
departure; name, age, breed, and color of your pet.
Please remember that pet clearance is at your personal expense
and post cannot advance money for pet fees. Some pet
shipment-related fees, however, may be reimbursable as part of an
itemized claim for the Foreign Transfer Allowance.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 5/17/2004 9:55 AM
The Chief of Mission (COM) must grant approval to import offical
firearms. Importation of personal firearms is not authorized.
Written requests to import firearms for official duties must be
submitted to the Regional Security Office for concurrence and COM
authorization, prior to shipment of the weapon to post. Please
indicate the make, model, caliber, and serial number of all firearms
and their intended use.
If importation is approved, contact the Regional Security Office
after your arrival to arrange for registration with Panamanian
authorities. Unregistered firearms must be held in the custody of
the Regional Security Office until registration procedures have been
completed. You can import a reasonable amount of ammunition for the
approved weapons. Approved weapons and ammunition MUST be shipped to
Post via previously approved methods.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 5/21/2004
The official currency of Panama is the Balboa (B/), on par with
the U.S. dollar. The Balboa exists only in coin form and, in Panama,
is interchangeable with U.S. coins. The official paper currency of
Panama is U.S. dollar bills. Both the U.S. system of weights and
measures and the metric system are used in Panama. Speed limits are
posted in miles per hour in some places, kilometers per hour in
other places; some signs give both miles and kilometers per hour;
and in many areas the limits are not posted at all.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 5/21/2004
Complete banking facilities are available at many banks in Panama
City, including branches of HSBC (former Chase Manhattan Bank),
BankBoston, and Citibank. Some local retail outlets accept personal
checks drawn on U.S. banks. However, checks drawn on Stateside bank
accounts, can take anywhere from 15 to 30 days to clear. Automated
Teller Machines (ATMs) exist at many banks which will accept most
debit cards from U.S. bank accounts that are part of major ATM
networks. At the Embassy, The BankBoston cashier will cash
authorized direct hire American’s personal checks drawn on U.S.
banks for limited amounts. You can purchase travelers checks locally
without difficulty. To deposit or cash U.S. checks in Panamanian
banks, a service charge is assessed. Major U.S. credit cards are
widely accepted in shops, hotels and restaurants. Cash machines
(ATM’s) are available in most shopping areas, banks and hotels. An
ATM is located in the Interim Office Building in the old Fort
No unusual taxes or restrictions apply to members of the Mission.
Upon arrival at post, the Human Resources Office will request a
Sales Tax exemption card for all accredited American employees. The
Mission General Services Office has also negotiated an agreement
with a gasoline company that will sell tax-free gas coupons to
Mission American employees.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:11 PM
The following titles are provided as a general indication of the
material published on this country. Some may be out of print but are
worth tracking down. The Department of State does not endorse
Abbot, W. Panama and The Canal (1976). Gordon Press Publications.
The Americas Group. The Americas Group Invasion: The American
Destruction of the Noriega Regime in Panama (1990).
Anderson, Charles L.G. Old Panama and Castilla del Oro. Sudwarth:
1911 Narrative history of the discovery, conquest, and settlement by
the Spaniards of Panama, Darien, Veraguas, and other parts of the
Anguizola, Gustavo Phillipe Buneau-Varilla. The Man Behind The
Panama Canal (1980). 480p. Nelson-Hall, Inc.
Avery, R. America’s Triumph at Panama (1976). Gordon Press
Barry, Tom. Panama: A Country Guide (1990). Inter Hemispheric
Bennett, Wendell C. Ancient Arts of the Andes (1954). Museum of
Modern Art, New York. This book discusses the Indian art of Panama
that is related to the pre-Columbian art of the Andes.
Biesanz, John and Mavis. The People of Panama (1955). Columbia
University Press: New York. A readable introduction to the people
and an analysis of the social conditions in Panama and the canal
Billard, Jules B. “Panama, Link Between Oceans and Continents.”
(March 1970) National Geographic Magazine. Vol. 137, pp. 402-440.
Chidsey, Donald Barr. The Panama Canal, An Informal History.
(1970) Crowan: New York.
Cobb, Charles A. Jr. “Panama, Ever at the Crossroad.” (April
1986). National Geographic Magazine.
Coniff, Michael L. Black Labor on a White Canal: Panama.
Crane, Philip M. Surrender in Panama: The Case Against the Treaty
(1978). 180p. Green Hill Publications.
Duval, Miles P. And the Mountains Will Move (1947). Stanford
University Press: Stanford, California. Scholarly account of the
digging of the Panama Canal from the start of the French effort
through the successful American achievement.
Gordon, Burton. A Panama Forest and Shore (1983). Boxwood Press.
Hogan, J. Michael. The Panama Canal in Americas Politics:
Domestic Advocacy and the Evolution of Policy (1986). 304p. Southern
Illinois University Press.
Howarth, David A. Panama: 400 Years of Dreams and Cruelty. (Also
called The Golden Isthmus.) McGraw: New York, 1966. Readable history
of the isthmus from Balboa's exploration in 1513 to 1964.
Jorden, William J. Panama Odyssey.
Keeler, Clyde E. Land of the Moon Children: The Primitive San
Blas Culture in Flux (1956). University of Georgia: Athens, Georgia.
An account of the findings of Dr. Keeler after four summers spent
with the Cuna Indians in the San Blas Islands.
Keeler, Clyde E. Secrets of the Cuna Earth Mother: A Contemporary
Study of Ancient Religions (1960). Exposition: New York. 1st ed.
Notes on the religion and lives of the Cuna Indians and a comparison
of the religion with some in the Far East.
Keller, Ulrich, ed. The Building of the Panama Canal in Historic
Photography (1983). 176p. Dove Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc.
Kempe, Frederick. Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Bungled
Affair with Noriega (1990). 352p. Putnam Publishing Group.
La Feber, Walter. The Panama Canal: The Crisis in Historical
Perspective (1978). Oxford University Press: New York. A study of
United States-Panamanian relations to 1977.
Langstaff, Eleanor D. Panama (1982). 184p. ABC-Clio, Inc.
Liss, Sheldon B. The Canal: Aspects of The United
States-Panamanian Relations (1967). University of Notre Dame Press:
Notre Dame, Indiana. A history of the relations of the two nations
from 1903 to 1966, with emphasis on the post-World War II years.
Mack, Gerstle. The Land Divided (1944). Knopf: New York.
Documented history of the Panama Canal and other isthmian canal
projects, embracing the entire concept of the interoceanic
communication of Panama.
Marsh, Richard O. White Indians of Darien (1934). Putnam: New
York. Account of an exploratory trip in the Darien.
McCullough, David. Path Between the Seas (1977). Simon &
Schuster: New York. Perhaps the best book written on the
construction of the canal.
Melditz, Sandra W. and Dennis M. Hanratty, eds. Panama: A Country
Study (1989). 4th ed. 1989. USGPO.
Mellander, Gustavo Adolfo. The United States in Panamanian
Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. The Interstate Printers &
Publishers, Inc.: Danville, Ill., 1971.
Minter, John E. The Chagres, River of Westward Passage (1948).
Rinehart: New York. The Chagres River as it influenced the history
of the Isthmus of Panama.
Moore, Evelyn. Sancocho (1947). Star & Herald Co.: Panama, 2nd
ed. Stories and sketches of Panama. Drawings by Jan Koerber.
Navarrete Talavera, Ela. Panama: Invasión o Revolución (1990).
356p. Group Editorial Planeta.
Nyrop, Richard F., ed. Panama: a Country Study (1990). 3rd ed.
Panama Canal Company. The Panama Canal Fiftieth Anniversary
(1964). Panama Canal Information Office: La Boca, Canal Zone. The
story of a great conquest. This book celebrates the 50th anniversary
of the operation of the Panama Canal.
Pirer, Rene. The Fifteen Wonders of the World (1961). Random: New
York. A history of the Panama Canal. Translated by Margaret
Priesley, George. Military Government and Popular Participation
in Panama (1985). 200p. West View Publishing Co.
Ropp, Steve C. Panamanian Politics: From Guarded Nation to
National Guard (1982). 174p. Greenwood Press Inc.
Sanchez Borbon, Guillermo and Richard Kosyer. In the Time of the
Tyrants (1990). Norton.
Simon, Maron. The Panama Affair (1971). Scribner: New York. An
account of the French Isthmian Canal venture.
Summ, G. Harvey and Tom Kelly, eds. The Good Neighbors: America,
Panama, and 1977 Canal Treaties (1988). 135p. Ohio University Press.
The South American Handbook. Rand McNally, Chicago, Illinois.
Issued annually, this handbook provides detailed current information
on central and South American and Caribbean countries.
Wali, Alaka. Kilowats and Crisis: A Study of Development and
Social Change in Panama (1988). 250p. West View Publishing Co.
World Bank. Panama: Structural Change and Growth Prospects
(1985). 384p. World Bank.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 5/21/2004 3:12 PM
In addition to U.S. national holidays, the Mission observes the
following Panamanian holidays:
New Year’s Day January 1
Mourning Day January 9
Good Friday Varies
Labor Day May 1
Independence Day From Colombia November 3
Colon Day November 5
Uprising of Los Santos November 10
Independence From Spain November 28
Mother’s Day December 8
Christmas Day December 25
An additional holiday is the day on which the titular President
of the Republic takes office.
In the event that a legal holiday or day of national mourning
previously established by the law falls on a Sunday, the holiday
will be observed the following Monday.
In addition to the above normal holidays, Panama frequently
declares “días feriados” on relatively short notice that may result
in closure of Government offices. Employees and travelers are
advised to check with Post before making final arrival plans to
ensure that the Embassy and other offices will be available for
business as planned.