Posted by: pennyinparadise | October 25, 2008

Panama City

Panama City is located on the western side of the country, just above Colombia.   It is the largest and most sophisticated city in Central America, with a thriving business and banking sector.   Panama has over 180 international banks, and is the second largest offshore banking center in the world….second to Grand Cayman.  The 100 year influence of the United States, during which time the city was purged of deadly diseases like cholera and malaria and the Panama Canal was built and operated by the US, makes it seem more like Miami than Central America.

Downtown Panama City

Downtown Panama City from the East

Ever changing skyline

The original city, Panama Viejo, was destroyed by the cannon balls of Captain Morgan the British Pirate, in 1671 and the population scattered.   Today, the ruins of Panama Viejo can still be seen and there are concerts and events at the tall tower.

Tower in Panama Viejo

Tower in Panama Viejo

In the 18th Century, a heavy French influence was felt and a new city sprug up across the bay from Panama Viejo….this city has many characteristics of the US city, New Orleans.   It is called Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo from the bay side

Casco Viejo from the bay side

Casco Viejo from the West

Casco Viejo from the West

Eventually, as the 19th and 20th Century passed by, the Modern City began in the Bella Vista area and now encompases areas known as Balboa, Punta Pacifica, Patilla and stretching east toward the international airport with Punta del Este (Point of the East).  The French Embassy, Ministry of Culture and the home of the Mayor of Panama City are still located in Casco Viejo…as is the formal residence of the President of Panama.  This formal residence houses offices and the president actually lives in a different location.

Of course, no visit to Panama City is complete without a visit to the world famous Panama Canal.  After paving streets and installing sewer and fresh drinking water systems (this took 2 years), the US government under President Teddy Roosevelt, began the unique job of constructing the Panama Canal.   In 1977 US President Jimmy Carter signed a treaty with then dictator President Omar Torijjos, giving the canal and all US interests in the Panama City area, to Panama.  On December 31, 1999 the Canal was turned over to Panama by President Bill Clinton.

Cruise Ship in the locks

Cruise Ship in the locks

See my page on the Panama Canal for more information.


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