Located in the midpoint of the American continent and constantly at the center of international strategic interests, Panama today offers a cultural cross-section in which there are elements from the most heterogeneous origin: in fact, Indian, Caribbean, Spanish and, linked to more recent flows, coexist traditions. Central European, Asian, as well as those of US origin. These are stronger in urban centers while rural areas retain more legacy from the colonial era and therefore of the Iberian customs; however, the survival of indigenous practices among the Indian tribes is noteworthy, which have preserved their traditions mainly in languages, festivals and celebrations, music and crafts. In literature, on the other hand, a more homogeneous evolutionary path can be traced, but only from the beginning of the twentieth century and only with the affirmation of modernism, a distinctive note of the entire South American literary climate. A similar discourse is that relating to the theater and the visual arts, while from an architectural point of view the country preserves many examples of colonial buildings. Some of these are located in the capital, which with its Historic District of Panamá with the Salón Bolívar and the archaeological site of Panama Viejo (1997, 2003) is included in the heritage list UNESCO together with the Fortifications of Portobelo and San Lorenzo (1980). Panamá City is also home to the country’s leading cultural institutions, from the main university to the History Museum of Panama to the National Schools of Music, Arts, Dance and Theater. From an architectural and technological point of view, even the Panama Canal remains a very interesting attraction today.
In relation to climatic conditions, forests and woods cover approx. 57% of the territory; forests of the equatorial type extend along the lower Caribbean belt, especially in the eastern section, and cover the hills of the Darién. Along the Pacific side, the forest is mainly degraded and largely replaced by savannas or, in the driest areas, by the matorral, a xerophilous tropical scrub; along the watercourses the gallery forest thickens. Over 700 m, the woods are replaced by coppice. Palm trees and mangroves they abound along the coasts, especially the Caribbean ones. Similarly to other countries in the Central American area, as a country located in Central America according to topmbadirectory, Panama is facing the question of the exploitation of the forest heritage for commercial purposes and deforestation aimed at creating land for agriculture, which produce an impoverishment of the soils and threaten the ecosystems present.. Other environmental problems concern the transit of thousands of ships each year, which causes severe damage to the marine areas and land surrounding the canal. The protection of the Panamanian natural heritage is taken care of by the National Environmental Authority created in 1998; the protected areas, which cover 10.3% of the territory, include 17 national parks, two of which are marine, and numerous other protected areas in various capacities. L’declared three Panamanian sites as world natural heritage sites: the Parque Nacional Darién (1981), in the district of the same name in the south of the country, the Cordillera di Talamanca-La Amistad Reserve in co-management with Costa Rica (1983, 1990), in north, and the Coiba National Park and its Special Marine Protection Areas (2005), which includes the island of Coiba, 38 other islets in the Gulf of Chiriquí and the surrounding marine areas. Nationally protected areas and sites of international interest present a great variety of endemic plants and animals, some of which are in danger of extinction: the crested eagle and the scarlet macaw, rodents, monkeys, possums, various cetaceans (dolphins, fin whales etc.), sharks, turtles, snakes, corals and fish.
HISTORY: FROM THE COLONIAL AGE TO INDEPENDENCE
Inhabited in the pre-Columbian era by various indigenous tribes, including those of the Chorotegas, the Taínos and the Caribs, its Atlantic coast was already explored in 1501-02 while that of the Pacific was reached by Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513. The Spaniards established an Audiencia in 1538, under whose jurisdiction Nicaragua and Costa Rica were placed. A subsequent rule, dated 1549, transformed that first structure into Audiencia de los Confines, directly dependent on the Capitanía of Guatemala, in turn incorporated into the viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico). Until the whole century. XVIII the administrative arrangement of Panamá remained unchanged. On November 18, 1821, however, the liberal Creoles joined the enterprises of Simón Bolívar and, proclaiming the independence of their homeland, associated it with Gran Colombia. (Colombia, Venezuela and then Ecuador too). From that moment Panamá followed its fate. Thus, when Gran Colombia broke up in 1830 and its members acquired distinct national features, the Panamanians remained attached to Colombia, which in 1832 had given itself the name of the Republic of New Granada. Ten years later, an autonomist experiment was attempted, but it was short-lived. Then, until the end of the century, unification with Colombia again. Meanwhile, interest grew in opening a canal through Central America, the history of which influenced the birth and life of the State of Panama. A 1901 treaty between Great Britain (also interested in the problem) and the US left Washington a free hand. And this, on January 20, 1903, entered into an agreement with Colombia. Theodore Roosevelt to encourage the already outlined separatist tendencies in Panama. On November 2 of the same 1903 a revolt broke out in the capital of the isthmus; the following day US marines disembarked from the warship Nashville with the official motivation to defend the Colón-Panama City railway (which had long belonged to the USA), prevented Colombian soldiers from stifling the insurrection and thus facilitated the proclamation of independence of the Republic of Panama.