History in Panama

History in Panama

The Indians began to settle on the territory of the Isthmus of Panama several millennia ago. At first they were engaged in agriculture, and later – in metallurgy.

The Spaniards first landed on the western shores of what is now Panama in 1501. They called these lands Golden Castile. The colonization of the Isthmus of Panama began in 1510. The goal of the colonizers was to reach the Pacific Ocean. This happened on September 25, 1513, under the command of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, whose detachment traveled through the Isthmus of Panama in search of gold. The Spanish conquistadors crossed the central highlands and became the first Europeans to reach the Pacific Ocean. The path that the Spaniards discovered was called “fireplace real”. On it, Europeans got not only to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, but also penetrated into South America. In 1519, the first Spanish Pacific port was founded – the city of Panama. It immediately became the most important trading center of the Spanish colonies in America, after all, goods from the Pacific colonies and Inca gold from South America to Europe were transported through it. In 1538, the lands of the Isthmus of Panama, simply called Panama, were proclaimed a “Spanish audience”. In addition to trade, the colonies were engaged in agriculture – numerous plantations were created here, on which imported African slaves worked. Since 1543, Panama has been part of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, gangs of pirates attacked merchant ships in the coastal regions of the Isthmus of Panama. In the 18th century, due to the fact that Europeans moved trade routes from dangerous areas, Panama’s economy fell into decline. In 1821, after Peru declared its independence, Panama became part of Gran Colombia. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Panama.

In the middle of the 19th century, gold was discovered in California, this was the beginning of the California Gold Rush. American gold prospectors from the eastern shores of North America traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama because that route was cheaper and safer than reaching California through central North America.

At the end of the 19th century, the Americans, having concluded an agreement with Colombia, built a railway here. However, the main idea that hovered in the minds of people was the idea of building a water canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The major world powers were involved in the debate over who would build the canal. In 1879, the French established a company to build a canal, however, in 1888, work was suspended. In 1902, the Americans bought from the French equipment and structures already erected in some parts of the canal, but did not get a building permit from Colombia. At that moment, the peak of Panamanian dissatisfaction with the Colombian authorities was observed, which the Americans took advantage of. In 1903, the United States provided military support to the Panamanian freedom fighters, which led to the declaration of Panama’s independence. After that, the new government of the independent republic gave “forever” all the rights to own and use the future channel to the United States. Work on the construction of the Panama Canal resumed in 1910 and was completed in 1914. Along the entire canal, the Americans placed about a dozen military bases.

Panama was in fact under the complete control of the United States – not a single event in the country took place without the “supervision” of the American military forces. Only in 1977 a new treaty was concluded between Panama and the United States. It provided for the liquidation of the canal zone from 1 October 1979 and the transfer of the canal to Panama by the year 2000. A resolution was also adopted on US non-interference in the internal affairs of Panama, and almost all US military bases from the country’s territory were liquidated. However, in the future, this did not prevent the United States from repeatedly intervening in the election campaigns of Panama, and in 1989, US dissatisfaction with the military government of General Manuel Antonio Noriega led to the occupation and bombing of the country by the United States. US military forces ousted General Noriega from the presidency, but this did not lead to political stability. Until the end of the 20th century, attempts were made to coup d’état. On December 31, 1999, the Panama Canal was finally handed over to Panama. It became the country’s main source of income and an opportunity to weaken US control over the country. Today Panama is one of the main trade and economic centers of Central America.


Panama is considered a relatively safe country for tourism compared to other countries in Latin America. Travelers should follow a few basic rules: it is strongly recommended not to go alone to remote areas of the country, not to walk along the outskirts of cities where the poor live, especially at night, avoid large crowds, never leave personal belongings unattended, and also do not carry large sums of money and a passport with you (it is better to have a copy of it with you). If you are traveling in a rental car and find yourself in poor “ghetto” areas, then always keep doors and windows closed. Of the remote regions of the country, the regions bordering with Colombia are of particular danger, where criminals can hide,

If you want to travel around the country on your own without ordering sightseeing tours from a tour operator while still in Russia, then you should book hotel rooms and air tickets in advance, and not do it on the spot.

Strong currents are often observed off the Pacific coast, so swimming, diving or surfing is worth it only after consulting with local guides.

History in Panama