Your guide to being an expatriate in Panama

Caffeinate Your Panama Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

Panama, officially known as the Republic of Panama, is a narrow isthmus country in Central America. Stretching roughly 80 km from north to south, it is only 50-60 km wide at its narrowest point. Bordered by Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Panama is a hub for regional and international trade. With a history dating back to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the country has a unique blend of African, European, and Indigenous roots that are evident in its culture and traditions.


Expat destinations in Panama

Demographics of Panama:

Ethnic groups

Mestizo (mixed European and Indigenous) = 72%, Afro-Panamanian (Afro-Caribbean) = 13%, Indigenous = 3%, European = 2%


Spanish (official) = 97%

Religion Overview

Panama's predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, with around 75% of the population practicing Catholicism.

Major Religions


Panama has a tropical climate, with high rainfall in some parts, especially on the Caribbean side. The dry season (December to April) is characterized by sunny and warm weather, while the wet season (May to November) is marked by humid and rainy conditions.

Economy Overview

Panama's economy is largely driven by its position as a significant financial hub and an important transportation hub between North and South America. The country has a mix of developed and developing sectors, with a significant portion of its GDP coming from services such as finance, commerce, and construction.

Key Industries

  • Finance and banking
  • Commerce and retail
  • Construction
  • Tourism
  • Agriculture

Major Companies

  • Banco Nacional de Panamá
  • Banco General
  • Kimberly-Clark de Panamá
  • Super 99
  • Rienda Corporation

Culture and Language Overview

Panama's cultural identity is a blend of African, European, and Indigenous elements, resulting in a unique and vibrant cultural heritage. Humor, music, and dance are integral parts of Panamanian culture, with traditional music styles such as basswood, cumbia, and reggaeton being popular among the younger generation.

Cultural Highlights

  • Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Quijano (December-January): A 37-day-long celebration featuring colorful parades, music, and dancing.
  • Mistura de Culturas (August): A week-long festival celebrating Panamanian culture, art, and traditions.
  • Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata (March): A music festival featuring traditional and contemporary Vallenato music.

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Panama's coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have resulted in a diverse landscape characterized by jungles, mountains, and beaches. The country's most famous landmark is the Panama Canal, a 77 km long canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which is a significant source of national pride and a major contributor to the country's economy.

Notable Landmarks

  • Panama Canal
  • Soberanía National Park: home to diverse wildlife, including endangered species such as jaguars and monkeys.
  • Old Panama City (Casco Viejo): a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring colonial-era architecture, museums, and cultural landmarks.
  • San Blas Islands: a group of 379 islands and islets, known for their coral reefs and strikingly beautiful landscapes.
  • Miraflores Locks Visitor Center: a viewing platform offering scenic views and educational exhibits related to the Panama Canal.

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Flag Day (January 21)
  • Independence Day (November 3)
  • Founding of Panama City (November 15)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

Political Stability

Panama is generally considered to have a stable political system, with a presidential republic and frequent multi-party elections, with the most recent presidential election being held in May 2019. Although the country remains a significant center for international finance and commerce and has attracted foreign investments, there are ongoing debates regarding the country's tax policies, income inequality, and socio-economic disparities.

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