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Where is Panama?

The geographical location of the Republic of Panama explained in case you don't know where it is


When I tell people I am emigrating to Panama, they often ask "Where is Panama?". Sometimes they say "Panama... isn't that in South America?". I explain, and then they know. After I've explained the whereabouts of the country of Panama, the folk remember and don't have to ask again.

The fact is: Panama is a country in Central America. The Americas are those two continents usually on the left of a world map. North America is a continent consisting of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. South America is a more mysterious place to most people, and includes such nations as Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guyana, Bolivia, Suriname, and French Guiana. Inbetween North America and South America there is an interesting region known as Central America. Usually the region is referred to as "Central America and the Caribbean".

Panama is the most southerly of the counties in Central America, just South of Costa Rica. Any further South, and you're in Colombia, which is in South America.

Panama is the narrowest part of the Americas. Where do you think the Panama Canal is? It's where there was any hope at all of putting a canal in, at the narrowest part of the Isthmus of Central America, in Panama. Knowing this fact makes the location of Panama unforgettable.

Why do some people think that Panama is in South America? It could be because they know Panama is a Latin-American place, and they know it's South of the USA and Mexico, so, without a more detailed knowledge of the geography, they make a guess, and probably get it mixed up with Peru, Paraguay, and Patagonia?

When you look at a map of Panama, it might look as if the map is wrong or the wrong way around somehow. The region of the Panama Canal is especially puzzling, as it seems to be counter-intuitive. Map of Central America and the CaribbeanHow can the Pacific be East of the Atlantic, when you know the Pacific is West of the Atlantic?! The reason is that Panama isn't a straight line Isthmus from North to South, and actually the country is more West to East on a map. In fact, the land is curved around like an S-bend, with the canal at the part where it's got the Pacific and Atlantic "the wrong way round".

Panama City is the capital, and it's on the Pacific coast, with the canal nearby. Most of the Republic of Panama is civilised, safe for tourists, and a modern businesslike tax haven economy. The exception is the region where Panama and Colombia meet, which is bandit territory and there is no road through, partly because of political reasons, partly because of the banditry, and partly because building a road through the Darien Gap would require construction through dense jungle and swamp.

For more About Panama, see the page.

Knowledge of geography is never complete, and tends to fall off inversely proportional to the distance. This works both ways, so in Panama such concepts as "the UK", "Great Britain", "England", and "London" are seen as almost indistinguishable. I wonder if that's worth writing a page about?! If you think so, please say


Creative commons free MAP copied with permission from Free World Maps.net, whose link is also featured at the page of Maps