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Panama has a developing economy. Outside the Panama City area, which has many first-class hotels and restaurants, tourist facilities vary in quality. The U.S. dollar is the paper currency of Panama, and is also referred to as the Panama balboa. Panama mints its own coinage. Read the Department of State Background Note on Panama for additional information.


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Image of Panama
Country Name: Panama
Continent: Central America
Capital City: Panama City
Boundary Countries:

Colombia, Costa Rica

Recommended Hospitals in Capital:

Hospital Chiriqui (Chiriqui), Centro Medico Paitilla (Panama City), Hospital Nacional (Panama City), Hospital Punta Pacifica (Panama City)
Colon: Hospital Amador Guerrero
Panama City: Centro Medico Bella Vista, Centro Medico Bernadette, Centro Medico Nacional, Centro Medico San Luis, CHEMSA, Clinica Boyd, Clinica Hospital America, Clinica Hospital San Fernando, Clinica Metropolis, Hospital del Niño, Hospital Integrado San Miguel Arcangel, Hospital San Judas Tadeo, Hospital Santa Fe- Panama City, Hospital Santo Tomas, Policlinica General y Especializada de Rio Abajo, San Fernando Pediatric Hospital

Main Cities:

Panama, David, La Palma, Colón, Cristóbal, Coco Solo, Balboa, Vacamonte, Yaviza, El Porvenir, Chitré, Santiago, Bocas del Toro

Country Size: 78,200 sq km
Population: 3,242,173



Spanish (official), English 14%; note - many Panamanians bilingual

Currency: balboa (PAB); US dollar (USD)
Predominant Religions:

Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

National Holidays: Independence Day, 3 November (1903)
Economic Status:

Panama's dollarized economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-fourths of GDP. Not a CAFTA signatory, Panama in December 2006 independently negotiated a free trade agreement with the US, which, when implemented, will help promote the country's economic growth.


An amendment to the Constitution abolished the armed forces, but there are security forces (Panamanian Public Forces or PPF includes the Panamanian National Police, National Maritime Service, and National Air Service).

US Presence:
U.S. Embassy in Panama City
Building 783, Demetrio Basilio Lakas Avenue
Clayton, Panama
Tel: (507) 317-5000
Document Requirements:

U.S. citizens traveling by air to and from Panama must present a valid passport when entering or re-entering the United States. Sea travelers must have a valid U.S. passport (or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S. birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID). American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.

Panamanian law requires that travelers must either purchase a tourist card at the airport in Panama before clearing customs, or obtain a multi-entry visa from a Panamanian embassy or consulate before traveling to Panama. Further information may be obtained from the Embassy of Panama, 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20009, tel. (202) 483-1407, or the Panamanian consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Juan, San Diego, San Francisco or Tampa.

U.S. tourists are allowed to stay in Panama for 90 days.  To stay longer, tourists must pay $250.00 and apply for a “change of migratory status visa” through a Panamanian lawyer before the expiration of the 90 days in country (See the National Migration Service web site for explanations of types of visas and requirements).  Please note that the Panamanian Immigration Office has discretion in the approval of this change in status.

U.S. citizens transiting the Panama Canal as passengers who do not plan on disembarking from the ship do not need to obtain visas, report to customs, or pay any fees. However, if they do plan to disembark they need to obtain a tourist card from the cruise line or a visa at a Panamanian embassy or consulate prior to traveling.   If they are piloting private craft or planes then they need to have a pre-stamped visa from a Panamanian Embassy or consulate, as do persons crossing into Panama by land.  U.S. citizens piloting private craft through the canal should contact the Panama Canal Authority at 011-507-272-1111 or consult the Canal Authority web site.

Minors who are citizens (including dual-citizens) or legal residents of Panama are required to present birth certificates and consent from both parents (in Spanish) in order to exit the country.  This documentation is required at all land, sea, and air ports. 

Visit the Embassy of Panama web site for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.

Major Airports:

Airports:  116, Airports w/paved runways:  54

Panama City – Tocumen Airport (PTY/MPTO)
Panama City, Tocumen, Panama, PO Box 0838, Zone 12, Panama, 02408, PANAMA
Tel: +507 (0)238-2600, +507 (0)238-2700
Fax: +507 (0)238-4725
Website: www.tocumenpanama.aero
Customs, hours: 24 hours
Tel: +507 (0)238-4110
Fax: +507 (0)238-4110

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

US citizens are warned not to travel to Darien Province. Embassy personnel are only allowed to travel to Darien Province on official business with prior approval of the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer. This restricted area encompasses the Darien National Park as well as privately owned nature reserves and tourist resorts. While no incidents have occurred at these resorts, US citizens, other foreign nationals and Panamanian citizens have been the victims of violent crime, kidnapping and murder in this general area. Reliable communications and medical infrastructure are not readily available in the region, which makes travel therein potentially hazardous. Moreover, all around the Panama-Colombia border area the presence of Colombian terrorist groups, drug traffickers and other criminals is common, increasing the danger to travelers. Note: The Secretary of State has designated the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
From time to time, there may be demonstrations protesting internal Panamanian issues, or manifestations of anti-American sentiment by small but vociferous groups. While most demonstrations relate to labor disputes or other local issues and are typically non-violent, it is nonetheless a good security practice to avoid demonstrations. US citizens are advised to exercise caution on the campus of the University of Panama, where members of radical, anti-US student groups are active. For updated security information, contact the US Embassy Consular Section.
Crime in Panama City is moderate but increasing, particularly because of the activities of youth gangs. The city of Colon is a high crime area. Police checkpoints have become commonplace on weekends on roads in both cities. Based upon reported incidents by local police, the high-crime areas around Panama City are San Miguelito, Rio Abajo, El Chorrillo, Ancon, Curundu, Veracruz Beach, Panama Viejo, and the Madden Dam overlook.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total: 15.96 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: TOTAL 75.19 yrs (male 72.69/ female 77.8)

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None
Recommended: Yellow Fever, Malaria, Hep A & B, Typhoid, Rabies, Boosters: MMR, DPT, as needed

Infectious Disease Concerns:

Malaria risk area in Panama: Risk exists in rural areas of Bocas Del Toro, Darién, San Blas provinces and San Blas Islands. No risk in Panama City or in the former Canal Zone.

Filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis (River blindness), and American trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region, mostly in rural areas. Risk to the usual traveler is low.

Diarrhea in travelers is common and may be caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic E. coli predominates, but other bacteria and protozoa (including Giardia, Cryptosporidia, and Entamoeba histolytica) can also cause diarrhea.

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

Although Panama City has some very good hospitals and clinics, medical facilities outside of the capital are limited. When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service.

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 5
Referrals: 25
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:



have occurred in travelers to Central America. Risky activities include disturbing soil and entering caves and abandoned mines. Cutaneous larva migrans occurs in visitors, especially those visiting beaches.
West Nile virus has been found in Mexico and may spread in Central America. Cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome have been reported from Panama.


Dengue epidemics have affected most countries in Central America in the past 5 years.
Myiasis (botfly) is endemic in Central America.

Foci of active transmission of leishmaniasis (predominantly cutaneous) are present in all countries in Central America.

Outbreaks of leptospirosis have occurred in travelers to the area (including whitewater rafters in Costa Rica and U.S. troops training in Panama). Sporadic cases and outbreaks of coccidioidomycosis and histoplasmosis

Communications Info:

Country Code: +507
Internet Code: .pa


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