From daily trivia posts on our MadAboutPanama Facebook page

  • Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic
  • In Panama, you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean in the same day, actually within a couple of hours
  • Panama was the first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. currency as its own

Panama uses the US Dollar for bills but the national currency is called Balboa. Bank notes are not printed, so since 1904 the US dollar has been the legal tender and US coins are interchangeable with Panamanian coins of the same denominations since similar sizes and metals are used. The dollar bill is called the Balboa, cents are centavos. Prices are often written with $ sign or B/. before the amount.

  • The Panama Hat is really made in Ecuador
  • French impressionist painter Paul Gauguin worked as a common laborer on the Canal in 1887
  • “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama” is one of the most famous palindromes (read it backwards… but you knew that!)
  • Panama covers 74,177.3 km2 or 28,640 sq mi which makes it slightly smaller than North Carolina (NZ is 3.6 times the size)
  • Panama is the only capital city in the world to boast a rainforest within the city limits, and it is the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere
  • Van Halen’s song “Panama” was inspired by a car, not the country (we thought he was singing “animal” anyway)

Panamax ships are the biggest that can go in the original locks – up to 294.13m long, 32.31m wide, with draft 12.04m (carrying 4,500 containers). Panamax Plus will be anything bigger than this, up to the New Panamax size of 366m x 49m x 15.2m draft

  • Panama is the last country in Central America, with Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific to the south
  • There is no door-to-door mail service in Panama – houses do not have numbers so nobody has a traditional address
  • The total length of the Panama Canal is about 50 miles or 80km
  • Panama has the second largest duty free zone in the world. It also has the second largest registrant for offshore companies, after Hong Kong
  • Gatun Lake is 85 feet above sea level. When it was first created it was 436 sq km, now it is 452 sq km
  • The Panama Canal area is not the narrowest section of the country, further east the Carti-Bayano area is only 28 miles coast to coast

The Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated territory of the United States from 1903 to 1979. The zone extended 5 miles (8km) on each side of the Canal, excluding Panama City and Colón, but including the lake reservoirs created to assure a steady supply of water for the locks.
The Torrijos–Carter Treaties of 1977 abolished the Canal Zone on October 1, 1979. The canal itself was under joint US-Panamanian control from 1979 until it was fully turned over to Panama on December 31, 1999.

  • The Panama Canal is the only place in the world where military commanders must relinquish control of their ships
  • A ship takes an average of 8 to 10 hours to transit the Panama Canal
  • The Panama Railroad is the oldest operating transcontinental railway in the world, bringing passengers from Panama City to Colon and back
  • The Canal started 24-hour operations in 1963 thanks to fluorescent lighting
  • The first mules or locomotives cost $13,217 and were built by General Electric, an American company . The Japanese company Mitsubishi is the current manufacturer of Panama Canal locomotives, which cost US$2.3 million each
  • Each lock chamber is 110 feet wide by 1,000 feet long. The total volume of concrete used to build the locks was 3,440,488 cubic meters.

The total construction cost of the Panama Canal was of approximately US$375 million, which included the US$10 million paid to Panama, and US$40 million paid to the French Canal Company for the rights to the Canal.

  • The French excavation work of the Canal was officially started by Count Ferdinand de Lesseps on January 10, 1880, with a blast at Culebra
  • On September 4, 2010, the Fortune Plum became the one millionth ship to transit the Panama Canal
  • Panama is situated south of the hurricane alley, so is generally not affected by tropical storms or hurricanes.

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