Panama is probably best known for the Panama Canal, which was built by the United States in 1914 at a cost of $380 million. Over 75,000 workers took ten years to build this canal. Many people died while working on the canal.
The canal stretches 51 miles across the country, creating a travel route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Without this route, ships would have to travel around South America to reach Asia and the Pacific Northwest.
Panama Facts For Kids
- Panama is in Central America, between Costa Rica and Colombia.
- The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
- Panama City is its capital and largest city.
- The currency used is the Panamanian Balboa and the US Dollar.
- Panama is known for its diverse wildlife and rainforests.
- The country is made up of 10 provinces.
- Spanish is the official language of Panama.
- Panama’s flag has red, blue, white, and stars.
- The Emberá people are one of its indigenous groups.
- Panama has both tropical rainforests and beautiful beaches.
The Panama Canal, a remarkable engineering marvel, is an enthralling aspect of Panama that captivates children’s interest. Inaugurated in 1914, this substantial maritime passageway bridges the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, serving as a significant global seafaring shortcut.
It operates like a colossal hydraulic lift, where vessels enter the canal and are elevated 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake via a system of locks, before being descended back to sea level on the other side. Spanning approximately 50 miles, the transit through this canal takes roughly 8 to 10 hours, providing a safer and more efficient alternative to the treacherous journey around South America’s southernmost point.
Panama’s official currency, the Balboa, pays homage to the Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who made history as the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean. In a distinctive monetary system, Panama uses both the Balboa and the US dollar as its currencies, with the Balboa existing solely in coin form and the US dollar being used for paper money.
Therefore, during a visit to Panama, one may find themselves receiving change in an intriguing fusion of Balboa coins and US dollar bills. This unique dual-currency system contributes to Panama’s charm and offers valuable insights into global economics.
Situated as the southernmost country in Central America, Panama is a captivating country, distinct for its abundant history and exceptional geographical features. Bordered by Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east, its global fame primarily stems from a 48-mile canal that serves as a crucial route for international maritime trade by linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Beyond its significant waterways, Panama boasts a rich biodiversity, housing over 900 different bird species – a count exceeding the combined total of the United States and Canada. Moreover, it’s the only country with a capital city, Panama City, that encompasses a rainforest within its city boundaries. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and colorful culture, Panama offers a fascinating learning experience for children.
Noriega (Manuel Noriega)
Manuel Noriega, a military officer turned de facto leader, significantly impacted Panama’s political landscape during his rule from 1983 to 1989. Noriega initially gained recognition for his efforts in fortifying the Panamanian army. Despite this, his administration was later marred by corruption, violence, and his involvement in drug trafficking.
The culmination of these illicit activities led to his ousting from power in 1989 by the U.S. military during an event known as Operation Just Cause. Following his capture, the United States extradited Noriega, where he was subsequently held accountable and convicted for his crimes. This turbulent period under Noriega’s rule had profound implications on Panama’s history.
Panama City (capital)
The vibrant and bustling capital of Panama, Panama City, is an enthralling location for children to explore and gain knowledge about. As the country’s largest city, it is renowned for its modern skyscrapers, historic edifices, and lively culture. What sets Panama City apart from other capital cities globally is the rainforest within its city limits, a unique aspect that piques the interest of many.
Another notable feature is the Panama Canal, an engineering wonder linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, where children can witness enormous ships transiting the canal at close quarters. Furthermore, Panama City is a haven for wildlife, boasting over 900 different bird species, making it an ideal spot for budding nature enthusiasts.
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama captivates the interest of children due to its unique land formation. Positioned as a slim strip of land bridging the gap between North and South America, it hosts the country of Panama. Its significance extends beyond serving as a habitat to a rich variety of flora and fauna, as it plays a pivotal part in global commerce.
The renowned Panama Canal, an exemplar of engineering genius, slices through the Isthmus, offering a shortcut for ships transiting between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This eliminates the necessity to navigate around South America’s tip, saving considerable time and establishing Panama as an essential junction in worldwide shipping routes.
The Panama hat, a famous symbol of Panama, is ironically not crafted in the country but in Ecuador. These iconic hats are traditionally woven from the plaited leaves of the toquilla palm tree in Ecuador. The name ‘Panama hat’ originated from the fact that these hats were first globally exported from Panama, causing a misnomer.
Despite not being indigenous to Panama, the hats have become an integral part of the Panamanian culture, often showcased in traditional dress and festivals. Thus, these lightweight, cool hats provide a fun opportunity for kids to immerse themselves in the Panamanian culture by pretending to be local residents.
San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands, a picturesque cluster within the Archipelago de San Blas in Panama, are a wonder of natural beauty and cultural richness. Home to the indigenous Guna people, who continue to preserve their traditional lifestyle, the islands boast azure waters, pristine sandy beaches, and a wealth of marine life.
Of the approximately 365 islands in the archipelago, only 49 are populated. This enchanting destination offers children an opportunity to discover diverse wildlife, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, and gain insights into the vibrant culture and customs of the Guna people. The Gunas are celebrated for their colourful handmade molas, which make for excellent souvenirs. Visitors are advised to uphold respect for the environment and local culture during their stay.
Guna Yala (indigenous region)
Guna Yala, formerly recognized as San Blas, is a distinctive Panamanian region that serves as the homeland for the indigenous Guna tribe. Comprising over 360 petite islands, it is celebrated for its breathtaking untouched coastlines and profound cultural legacy. The Guna tribe upholds a profound sense of tradition and self-sufficiency, operating their own unique economic model and dialect.
They are distinguished by their colourful attire and elaborate molas, pieces of artwork crafted via an exclusive reverse appliqué method. Intriguingly, Guna Yala practices matrilineal inheritance, where property and legacy are transferred from mothers to daughters. This indigenous enclave provides a fascinating insight into Panama’s varied cultural spectrum.
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro, a picturesque archipelago located in Panama’s Caribbean Sea near the Costa Rican border, is a haven for youngsters with a fondness for nature. The region boasts of breathtaking beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and verdant rainforests, all teeming with a diverse variety of wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, dolphins, and numerous species of tropical birds.
Adding to its charm is the distinct indigenous culture of the Ngäbe-Buglé community, who preserve their age-old traditions within the region. Moreover, Bocas del Toro plays a key role in environmental conservation, housing several protected zones and serving as a nesting ground for endangered sea turtles, making it a fantastic location for children to learn about ecological preservation.
Panama has rich farmland, where farmers grow vegetables, coffee and bananas. Panama is a beautiful country, with many rivers, white beaches and mountains. Off the coast of Panama are over 1,500 islands. Sea turtles, tree frogs and many other animals live in Panama.
Fun Facts about Panama for Kids
- People in Panama believe in close families. Extended families may live together and the people celebrate many festivals.
- Children go to school from the ages of 7 to 15.
- Juan Carols Varela is the current President of Panama (data July 2018).
- 4,162,618 people live in Panama (data July 2018).
- Panama has 29,340 square miles of land.
- At 3,475 m the Volcan Baru is the tallest mountain in Panama and also an active volcano. The last eruption was back in 1550.
- 92 percent of adults can read.
- Spanish is the main language used in Panama.
- People in Panama can expect to live 78.93 years.
- Most people are Christian.
- Panama has a multiparty democracy.
- Panama is also home to the Tree Toed Sloth – Tapirs – Anteaters – Jaguars – Bats – Monkeys and much more.
- After the Amazon rainforest the Panama rainforest is the largest on the American continent.
- The Panama railway was built by the US in 1855.
- Christopher Columbus in the year 1502 visited Panama.
- Balboa is the currency used in Panama. It’s the exact same as the dollar.
- The official language in Panama is Spanish although most Panamanians speak English.
- Route: road, path, way
- Canal: man-made river
- Festival: party, celebration
All About Panama Video for Kids
Here’s the best kids Panama video you can watch right now to learn more all about Panama
Question: Has Panama endured wars like other Central American countries?
Answer: Panama has had its share of political problems. In 1989, U.S. troops invaded Panama and threw out General Manuel Noriega because he was involved in drug trafficking. Since then, the country has had problems with corrupt leaders.
Map of Panama
Here’s a map of the country of Panama and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around Panama! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of Panama, as though you are actually there!