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Thursday 30th March
Panama Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Panama is in Central America between Colombia and Costa Rica. It has sea borders with the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Panama City is the capital city; San Miguelito is a suburb of Panama City. Other major cities include Colon and David.

The interior of Panama is steep and mountainous with upland plains, coastal areas are mainly plains and rolling hills. The country has around five hundred rivers.

The climate is tropical maritime. The rainy season is from May to January.

Environment
Over thirty percent of Panama's natural environment is protected by a system of national parks, forest reserves and wildlife refuges.

Darien National Park and La Amistad National Park (and Talamanca Range - La Amistad Reserves) are on the World Heritage List. Darien National Park consists of coastland and tropical forests and La Amistad National Park protects tropical rainforest. Native American tribes inhabit both protected areas.

Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection, a World Heritage site off the southwest coast, includes of the island of Coiba and a number of smaller islands.

Animals in Panama are the giant anteater, jaguar, ocelot, puma, howler monkey, squirrel monkey and spider monkey. Nine hundred and thirty species of birds can be found on the mainland and islands. These include the Quetzal and the Harpy Eagle, the national bird of Panama.

Architecture
The Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District of Panama is a World Heritage site. Panama Viejo was founded in 1519. Like the earlier Colonial city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, the capital was set out on a grid pattern favoured by the Spanish. The Historic District of Panama was founded in the latter half of the seventeenth century. Colonial buildings include the Presidential Residence and the National Theatre.

Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo, also on the World Heritage List, are examples of the defence system built by the Spanish.

Population
The population of Panama was estimated at 3,460,462 in 2011.

Languages
Spanish is the official language in Panama. Fourteen percent of the population also speak English.

Religion
The majority of the people in Panama are Christians; a large number are Roman Catholic.

Food
Chicken soup and chicken stew are traditional dishes in Panamanian cuisine. Other favourites are tortillas eaten with eggs or beans, and cheese and meat empanadas.

Fish is an important part of the diet. Ceviche, fish marinated in lime juice, onions and peppers, is a popular side dish.

Rice, beans, cassava, onions, plantains, peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes are available.

Tropical fruits include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, papayas and pineapples.

Coffee is grown and beer is brewed locally.

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