Bocas del Toro
Bocas Del Toro Panama’s Caribbean Jewel
Veraguas, the Republic’s Granary
Birthplace of Urraca, a legendary Indian warrior, Veraguas is one of the central provinces, with its capital in Santiago and districts of Las Palmas, Cañazas, Santa Fé, Calobre, San Francisco, La Mesa, Soná, Río de Jesús, Montijo, Santiago, and Atalaya. With a population of 209,100 people Veraguas is the only province with coasts on both oceans. The main economic activities of Veraguas include: coffee growing in Santa Fé, Calobre, and Cañazas; rice crops in La Mesa; tobacco in Las Palmas, livestock and agricultural business throughout the province and manufacturing straw hammocks.
Herrera. this smallest of the provinces is located in the Azuero peninsula. Its capital is the city of Chitré and its districts are Ocú, Santa María, Parita, Chitré, Las Minas, and Los Pozos. It has a population of 102,500. Its people are progressive and hard-working and have made Chitré the most important urban city in the Azuero peninsula. The main industries are the manufacturing of beverages, shoes, detergents, and leather products. There is also good farming, livestock and pig-raising, and also a good production of milk, cheese, and other by-products.
Its only city is Colón. It was officially founded on the island of Manzanilla during the railroad construction. The province is situated on the north coast with a population of 204,200 people, in the districts of Donoso, Chagres, Colón, Portobelo and Santa Isabel. Colon City is the Atlantic terminal port of the Canal and the major employers of labour are the Canal, the ports and the Colón Free Zone, created in 1946 to reactivate the economy. Tourist attractions include the ruins of Portobelo and Fort San Lorenzo, Isla Grande, and Langosta beach.
Population is mostly concentrated in the capital, Panama City. It was founded on January 21, 1673 by the Governor and Captain General Don Fernando de Cordoba y Mendoza. This province has the largest population of the country, estimated at 1.311 million inhabitants. Today it comprises the districts of San Carlos, Chamé, Capira, Chorrera, Arraijan, Taboga, Perlas Islands, Panama, San Miguelito, Chepo, Chiman and Balboa.
Ngobe Buglé Territory
The creation of the Ngobe Buglé territory in the 1990’s changed the map of the Republic, as it encompasses large segments of land formerly administrated by the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Chirquí and Veraguas.
Formerly known as Guaymie, this major subdivision of Native Americans comprises two cultural groups: the Ngobe and the Buglé, the members of which live in tiny hamlets scattered throughout the mountains of the Central Cordillera mountain range and work in agricultural activities, such as the banana and coffee plantations of the region. The Ngobe Buglé are known for special handicrafts: the famous chaquiras – necklaces and bracelets made with tiny plastic beads and the colorful female gowns, an attractive item for tourist women. Considered the largest of Panama’s indigenous groups (65.5% of local Native Americans), the Ngobe Buglé are also the country’s fastest growing tribe. According to the 2000 Census, the group’s population was estimated in 186,861 people.
Chiriqui, Valley of the Moon
Los Santos, Guardian of Folklore
Los Santos is located on the Azuero Peninsula. Its capital is Las Tablas. It has an estimated population of 83,500 and in recent years has suffered a considerable decrease through migration to other provinces. Districts of the province are Los Santos, Guararé, Macaracas, Tonosí, Las Tablas, Pocrí, and Pedasí. Los Santos province is regarded as being the mecca of tradition and folklore which is enshrined in the carnival celebrations every year at Las Tablas. The main economic activities include: agriculture in Guararé and Pedasí; salt industry in Guararé; corn crops and cattle-raising in Pedasí and Tonosí; pig and chicken farming in Pocri.
The capital of Coclé is Penonomé, so named after the legend of an Indian chief called Nomé. He was killed by the Spanish there and the name stems from the phrase “Aquí Penó Nomé” or “here Nomé suffered”. Coclé is one of the central provinces and comprises the districts of Aguadulce, Natá, Olá, La Pintada, Penonomé and Antón. The principal economic activity is cattle and handicraft such as hats, purses, etc. In La Pintada, coffee is grown, and Aguadulce has extensive shrimp farms. In Antón, livestock and rice crops are the main activities. The population is approximately 202,500 people. The people of Coclé are proud of their cultural heritage and are conscious of regional solidarity.
Darien, Jungle Giant
The Darién province is largely jungle and its capital is La Palma. It is situated in the southeast of the isthmus. Its population is small (40,300) because of a need for roads but it is the most extensive province in the country. The Pan American Highway has recently been extended deep into the province as far as Yavisa. People are involved in farming, fishing and forestry.
Kuna Indian Territory (Dule Nega)
This Indian reservation lies in the north east of the isthmus, on the coastal strip from San Blas Point to the border with Colombia; it also includes a beautiful archipelago of tiny islands inhabited by the Kuna Indians (32,446 inhabitants) who have their own type of government and also preserve their own culture. The Government administrator or “Intendente” works out of the island of El Porvenir. Great quantities of coconuts are grown and the “molas” which the women sew in reverse applique are a sought-after souvenir for tourists and cruise ship passengers who visit.
The Embera and Wounaan Territory
Most of the members of this Native American group live in a special comarca (territory) in the heart of the Darién jungle. The group, however, is a relatively recent new-comer in Panama. They migrated to the Isthmus from the region of Chocó, in Colombia (hence their former name of Chocoes). Representing 10% of all Panamanian Indians, the Emberá and Wounaan (two related, but culturally different groups) make a living from agriculture, hunting and fishing. In 2000, their population stood at 29,367.