The Republic of Panama is Made up of 10 Provinces.
Recently the Republic of Panama decided to make a 10th Province. This has changed the Provinces of Panama for the better. The latest Province is Panama Oeste. This is the area we live and work. The change was needed as the population of Panama Oeste grew. Here we are going to talk about each of the provinces of Panama we will talk about the indigenous Comarcas in a separate article.
First up the 10 Provinces of Panama-
The Province of Panama-
This is by far the most well known Province. Located on the Pacific coast and home to the nations Capital, Panama City. You probably will be flying into Tocumen airport and will be staying in one of the myriad of hotels in the cosmopolitan Capital city. Some of the more well known tourist destinations in the Province of Panama include the Amador Causeway, Casco Antiguo (Casco Viejo), Panama Viejo, Panama Canal Museum at Miraflores, Metropolitan Park, Summit Zoo, Bahai Temple, Pearl Islands, Gamboa Resort and plenty of shopping.
The Province of Panama Oeste-
In English this translates to Western Panama. This region used to be part of the Province of Panama. Panama Oeste is where many Panamanians including ourselves live. It is turning into a giant suburb of Panama City. The area includes the region on the other side of the Panama Canal, West to the Province of Cocle. Here we have a growing middle class population as well as malls and plenty of outdoor areas to explore. The major city is Chorrera, which is home to the Provinces government offices. Some of the more remarkable places to visit include the up and coming shopping district of Costa Verde, Westland Mall, the beaches of Chame, Coronado, San Carlos and of course the mountains of Chica.
The Province of Herrera-
Anabell Hilarski and her family originally lived in Herrera before moving to Panama City. The Provinces main towns are Chitre and Parita, take a step back in Spanish colonial history. If you are looking for pottery and other handmade crafts Herrera is the location for you. You can even see groups of Howler monkeys in the trees as you drive the roads. Make sure to visit the historic Spanish church in Parita. During Carnival the main towns turn into a giant party as Panamanians celebrate. As you drive around Herrera you will see fields of sugar cane which is used to brew rum and make sugar. This photo was taken near Parita in the town of Portobelillo where Anabell’s uncle is making miel de cana the old fashioned way. Yes that is a trunk of an old tree.
The Province of Veraguas-
One of the countries natural treasures, Veraguas is filled with spectacular beauty. Veraguas is home to the nations largest national park, Coiba. The Coiba National Park is made up of many islands, reefs and jungle. If you are into diving, surfing and fishing this province of Panama is for you. The main town is Santiago a fast growing city situated on the Pan-American highway. It offers good restaurants and hotels to stay at while you explore the region. Take a drive to Santa Fe and see one of the best kept secrets in Panama. This town is growing as a location for expats to settle down.
The Province of Colón-
If you follow VIP Panama Tours you know that our favorite Province in Panama is Colón. This is the home to the Colón Free Zone, one of the largest drivers of commerce in the world. This province also has Fort San Lorenzo, the Gatun locks of the Panama Canal, the Panama Canal expansion overlook, the Safarick’s Zoo, Caribbean beaches, Isla Grande, Tortuguilla, Palenque and of course Portobelo. With its strong connection to the Caribbean islands your experience in Colón will be much different than any other location in Panama.
The Province of Los Santos-
Los Santos is the province that is the birthplace of the national dress, the Pollera. The worlds most expensive and elaborate national dress is handmade and can costs thousands to produce. Make sure to visit the Festival of the Pollera each year, it is an amazing opportunity to look back in time and witness the influence of the Spanish culture on Panama. The center of culture for Los Santos is the town of Las Tablas. This area is also well known for its annual Carnival celebrations. Once again Las Tablas is the main attraction as the town competes by splitting into two factions, Calle Abajo and Calle Arriba. These two factions have their own Carnival queens and create an amazing show of floats and revelry. Los Santos is also known for the beach towns of Pedasi and Playa Venao both known for surfing and fishing. Make sure to visit Isla Iguana off the coast of Pedasi, the island is literally filled with iguanas.
The Province of Bocas del Toro-
When I visit this Province of Panama it is difficult to imagine I am still in Panama. There is so much more to the Province than the islands that are its namesake. This area is the largest producer of bananas in the country. If you visit the district capital of Changuinola you will see miles and miles of banana trees. The small town of Guabito is the last stop as you cross the old railway bridge into Costa Rica. Now let’s discuss the archipelago of Bocas del Toro which is made up of 9 islands. This is one of the most famous destinations in Panama. If you like island life this is the destination for you. You can enjoy surfing, diving, fishing, all night beach parties and a laid back atmosphere. Get around Bocas del Toro by water taxi or stay on the main island of Isla Colón which has almost everything you need. Visit Bocas del Toro Travel for more information regarding the islands.
The Province of Chiriqui-
The Chiriqui Province is home to the picturesque highlands of Panama. Much of the food that is produced in Panama comes from this Province. Cerro Punta is an area filled with farms of all types including traditional farming as well as modern farming like aquaponics. The famous towns of Boquete and Volcan, Panama will provide you with an experience of a life time. Enjoy coffee farms like Finca Deborah and Kotowa growing some of the best coffee in the world. Each year the town of Boquete hosts the Boquete Flower Festival. The town is overrun with tourists from all over the world. Hike the mountains and see spectacular waterfalls and birds of all colors. The cuisine and hotels are some of the best in Panama. The main city in Chiriqui is David, where the airport is located. The highlands are about a 45 minute drive up Volcan Baru. Near to Costa Rica is Puerto Armuelles an up and coming area for expats wanting to live on the Pacific ocean.
The Province of Cocle-
This Province of Panama is one that is a wonderful secret. It includes the towns of Penenome and El Valle. Recently the Panama government opened an new international airport in Cocle called Rio Hato. As the flights increase this region will continue to grow in popularity. Some of the worlds most popular resorts have been built along the beaches of this Province. Here at VIP Panama Tours our focus is the local traditions and beauty of Panama. Our favorite part of Cocle is El Valle. This gorgeous town is located in the center of an extinct volcano. If you like flowers, hiking, cool air and beautiful scenery this is the town for you. The best part is that El Valle is only two hours from Panama City. Penenome is well known for its Carnival celebrations along the river each year with its river floats. Make sure to visit the El Cano museum and see some of the oldest artifacts found in Panama.
The Province of Darien-
Darien is well known for its amazing fishing and biodiversity. This is the Province that borders the Darien gap which separates Panama and Colombia. The jungles of Darien have been designated a Biosphere Reserve to protect the fauna. The national bird of Panama, the Harpy Eagle can be found in Darien. It is the largest eagle in the world. If you are traveling to Darien, make sure to go with a guide.
Panama has so many places to see in such a small area. You can literally spend a month straight traveling in this country and still not experience all that the Provinces of Panama have to offer. Beyond the Provinces of Panama are the Comarcas or Indigenous districts of Panama. They include the district of Nagabe- Bugle in the West of Panama, The Guna Yala along the Caribbean, the Embera – Woonan in the East, the Wargandi near Guna Yala and the Madungandi near Guan Yala. We will discuss the Comarcas in a later article.
We look forward to serving you when you visit the Republic of Panama. Please follow us on Twitter @VIPPanamaTours.