During our TechTour, Panama City has been our first stop.
Over there, we discovered a diverse multicultural city of almost 1.3 million.
Even if speaking about Panama City immediately recalls us to the Canal, there’s much more than this !
Things are really diversified : kind of shantytowns slink up alongside shiny high-rise condos and the Old City is an atmospheric labyrinth of churches, plazas and palaces. Fifteen miles from downtown Panama City, Soberania National Park is an excellent destination for hiking and birding.
This video we’ve found on National Geographic describes pretty well what we’ve seen in Panama City and you’ll find some pictures after it.
Culture and traditions
As a meeting point in the history of the countries of Latin America, Panama is a country forged by various cultures and traditions that come together to create a unique complexity and exotic environment. The country’s ethnic diversity is reflected in the traditional products, such as woodcarvings, ceremonial masks and pottery, as well is in its architecture, cuisine and festivals.
Panama travel often dazzles the senses, indigenous and European cultures combine to create a country without equal. Panama’s architecture is a reflection of the different groups that make their home there. The Ngöbe Bugle region, home to the Ngöbe Bugle Indians with their traditional huts, stand in contrast to the homes built by Swiss, Yugoslav, Swedish, German and American immigrants.
Casco Antiguo, this old city of Panama is undergoing restoration and is the site of great historical and architectural importance, and was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO on December 6, 1997. Visitors to the site can see homes with colonial, French, neoclassic and African architecture, built at the beginning of the last century, narrow lanes with ancient ruins, beautiful colonial churches, the National Theater, the Church of San José, with its famous golden altar that was saved from the greed of the pirates. Panama City also has several Museums, such as the Canal Museum, the History Museum, and the Reina Torres de Arauz Museum, which focuses on the anthropology of the isthmus -the Art Museum and the Museum of Religious Art – among others.
Local Folklore and Dance
The local folklore is a symbol of the diverse culture in Panama. It can be experience through a multitude of festivals, dances and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. The beautiful “pollera” is the typical dress for Panamanian women. The “pollera” is embroidered on fine weave fabric with intricate, brightly colored designs that take over a year to complete. The men’s finery consists of embroidered, long sleeved shirts, three-quarter length pants and the traditional “Montuno” straw hat. The different festivals reflect the influence of the different ethnic groups that make up the country.
Almost all Christian; 90% Roman Catholic. Other representations include Protestants, Jews and Muslims.
Handshaking is the normal form of greeting and dress is generally casual. The culture is a vibrant mixture of American and Spanish lifestyles. The mestizo majority, which is largely rural, shares many of the characteristics of mestizo culture found throughout Central America. Only three indigenous tribes have retained their individuality and traditional lifestyles as a result of withdrawing into virtually inaccessible areas.
Family and Society
The extended family is the most important social unit in Panama. People work hard to take care of their relatives and are quick to tell you about the achievements of those they are related to. Children are raised by their extended family and genuinely respect their elders. Often times, multiple generations will live under the same roof, with the younger ones taking care of their grandparents. Because of this, there are very few retirement homes in Panama.
Panama is an ideal place to enjoy local cuisine, which varies from region to region. Some of the local dishes include sancocho de gallina (chicken stew), carimañolas (deep fried meat-filled yucca rolls), new corn fritters, fried pork rinds and jerked beef, a delicacy for any discriminating diner. Fish and seafood are prevalent in several areas, including the famous dish known as “Fu-Fu”–a soup made from coconut milk, green plantains and fish with a pinch of a distinctive spicy condiment called “chombo” chile.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Marina Civic Center
The City of Panama City’s Marina Civic Center is a performing arts facility committed to providing cultural enrichment opportunities for the citizens of Panama City, Bay County and the surrounding area. The seating capacity of the Marina Civic center is 2508. Conference rooms are also available for business meetings and seminars.
The historic Martin Theatre is located at 409 Harrison Avenue in Downtown Panama City. The Martin Theatre is a 460-seat state-of-the-art facility that hosts many popular plays and attractions. « The Green Room » at the Martin Theatre complex is available for business and social functions.
The Visual Arts Center
The Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida is located in Panama City’s first City Hall, built in 1925, at 5 East Fourth Street. The Visual Arts Center hosts approximately 12 events annually. Indoor gallery spaces include the Main Gallery, The Higby Gallery, Lobby Gallery, Walkway Gallery and Impressions – a Hands-on Children’s Gallery. The Visual Arts Center galleries host annual exhibits by Florida artists as well as Bay County School students. They also offer classes, workshops and lectures for the community.