Panama Geography

By | September 12, 2021


The morphological picture of Panama is varied and complex, enlivened by an uninterrupted series of reliefs that meander from W to E, forming the extreme section of the long isthmus ridge. As a country located in Central America according to topschoolsoflaw, the Panamanian territory rises from a shallow continental shelf, particularly extended under the waters of the Pacific, especially in correspondence with the Gulf of Panamá. During the emergence phase of the region, which occurred at the end of the Cenozoic during the corrugation of the isthmic plate, the emerged area was much larger, consisting of powerful series of Mesozoic and above all Cenozoic sedimentary rocks, resting on a base of crystalline rocks and metamorphic ancient, and interested, in particular in the Miocene, from an intense volcanic activity, which is responsible for the extensive blankets and numerous volcanic buildings, some of which active until recent times, such as the Barú or Chiriquí (3475 m), the highest peak in the country. During the Plioceneand Pleistocene, however, the region, as a consequence of the settling processes in the Central American area, was affected by intense epirogenetic movements, the last of which, which manifested itself in the Pleistocene, is due to the current conformation of the country: lowering by approx. 200 m of the southern section of the original Isthmian platform involved in fact a considerable entrance marina, which was responsible for the formation of the Gulf of Panamá and the submergence of a southern volcanic alignment, of which strips emerge in the Azuero peninsula (Cerro Canajagua), in the Pearls Islands (Archipiélago de las Perlas) and in the Serranía del Sapo, in the Darién; this entry also further lowered the already modest dividing threshold between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The central depression, along which the interoceanic canal was dug as the watershed line it is lowered to reach 87 m at the Culebra pass, it allows the territory to be divided into two main sections, western and eastern. The backbone of the western section is given by the Cordillera de Veraguas, continuation of the Costa Rican cordillera of Talamanca, and by the Serranía del Tabasará, with some peaks over 2500 m (Cerro Santiago, 2121 m), and with which it forms a single mountainous alignment, also called Cordillera Central. Volcanic buildings are mostly deeply affected by erosion. The flanks of the Chiriquí open, deeply engraved by the barranchi, on vast plateaus that slope down to terraces between 1600 and 900 m: the largest, that of David, overlooks the Gulf of Chiriquí. While towards the N the Cordillera Central leaves little room for the coastal selvedge, especially in correspondence with the gulf of los Mosquitos, to the S, between the cordillera and the Azuero peninsula extends a corridor of low lands covered by a dense forest cover. Beyond the Azuero peninsula, the Cordillera Central gradually fades towards the depression area of ​​the Panama Canal. The eastern section of Panamá is much lower and is characterized by a mountainous arc that runs mainly close to the Caribbean coast and is formed by the Serranía de San Blas and the Serranía del Darién; the peaks do not exceed 1000 m if not at the eastern end, near the border with Colombia, where the Cerro Tacarcuna reaches 1875 m. Modest hills, irregularly arranged, follow one another between the Serranía del Darién and the Serranía del Sapo, separated by valleys that gently widen towards the Gulf of Panamá. The Pacific coast is very articulated and rich in islands: the archipelago of the Pearls alone consists of 144 islets and 39 major islands, the largest of which, the island of Rey or San Miguel island, is 32 km² wide. Numerous shoals and islets emerge only during low tides, given that along the Pacific coast the tidal amplitudes are significant, oscillating around 5-6 m: consequently the erosive action on the coasts is intense. The Caribbean coast is generally more uniform, with an overall development of approx. 1200 km compared to 1600 approx. of the peaceful one; various islands enclose the Chiriquí lagoon, almost at


The Panamanian territory is very rich in rivers, with copious waters and a fairly regular regime, but with a very short course, especially the tributaries of the Sea of ​​the Antilles, given the proximity of the watershed to the coast. Rivers that flow into the Pacific, such as the Chepo and especially the Tuira, have relatively greater development. 182 km long, it descends from the heights on the border with Colombia with a very rapid course in the initial stretch, bumpy by numerous small waterfalls; it receives many tributaries, the main one being the Chucunaque which crosses for 172 km a region that is still partly wild, covered by dense equatorial forest, and flows into a deep estuary in the Gulf of San Miguel.

Panama Geography