Most Popular Facts About Panama

Population: 3,705,246

Capital City: Panama City

Area: 29,120 sq miles. Slightly smaller than South Carolina

Time Zone: GMT-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Location: Central America

Popular Expat Regions: Panama City; Coronado; Cerro Azul; Santa Fe; Las Tablas; Pedasí; Chiriquí Highlands; Bocas del Toro

Property: In Panama, foreigners and Panamanians are given basically the same property rights. Buying property in Panama is similar to the process in the U.S.—so some steps will feel familiar.

Renting: Rental regulations are pretty straightforward in Panama. Your landlord and you, the tenant, have the right to negotiate any rental amount and deposit amount (the latter to be held by the Ministry of Housing…ask the renter to show you the deposit slip). Usually, the landlord has the right to increase rent at his discretion and either you or the landlord can break the lease at any time with a month’s notice.

Healthcare: Panama offers high quality medical care and modern hospitals in the metropolitan areas. For example, the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Punta Pacifica Hospital is the most technologically advanced medical center in Latin America.

Climate: Unlike North America, Panama doesn’t have four seasons. Here, you get the wet or “winter” season and the dry “summer” season. Summer is roughly from December to April. On the Pacific Coast, in places like Panama City and Coronado, rains start gradually in May with frequent showers.

What to Wear: Although this is a tropical region you might want to bring a sweater because many restaurants and other places are often cold from the air conditioning. As this is a tropical region bring sunscreen and bug repellent. It is not necessary to get shots or vaccines to come to Panama.

Currency: In Panama, the U.S. dollar is the official currency. It is locally referred to as the Balboa, and you’ll see B/. next to prices in supermarkets and shops, instead of the “$” symbol. This often causes confusion with visitors who begin to wonder whether Panama has a separate currency. However, the only universally accepted paper money here is the U.S. dollar. This is not a recent or temporary decision—Panama dollarized in 1904.

Financial Information: Major hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. You will want to have cash if you eat at some smaller restaurants and for taxis. Traveler’s Checks are not accepted in most places. You will need to cash them at a bank, that will charge you a fee.

Language: Spanish is the official language of Panama, but many natives are bilingual. Many indigenous languages can be found throughout the country, including Ngabere (or Guaymi), Buglere, Kuna, Embera, Wounaan, Naso (or Teribe), and Bri Bri. Creole languages, as well as English, Chinese, and Arabic can be heard in some regions too.

System of Government: Presidential Republic. There are three branches of government: the Executive branch consists of the president and their appointed cabinet; the Legislative branch, which is a 71-seat Asamblea Naciona (National Assembly); and the Judicial branch, made up of numerous courts of various power and expertise.

Head of State and Government: President Juan Carlos Varela (since 1 July 2014). Both president and vice president are directly elected on the same ballot by a simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term. Once out of office, the president is eligible for a second term, but this must be non-consecutive.

Telephone Country Code: 507

Emergency numbers: 104, 103, 911 (police, fire, ambulance)

Religion: Christianity is the dominant religion in Panama, with 85% of the population identifying as Catholic, and the remaining 15% identifying at Protestant.

Life Expectancy at Birth: 78.6 years (male = 75.8 years; female = 81.6 years)

Exports: $15.19 billion

Imports: $22.08 billion

Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity): $93.12 billion

GDP per Capita: $22,800

Inflation Rate: 1%

Source: CIA The World Factbook