was founded in 1852 and established as the railroad
terminal, to only be called the Department of Colon.
Its privileged geographic location on the Atlantic
coast of Panama, next to the Panama Canal, is home
to the Colon Free Zone. The Colon Free Zone is one
of the most important ports in the Western World,
so much so that the Cozumel, Manaos and Chetumel
free zones get most of their goods from this one.
Colon has 4 thousand 890 square kilometers and a
population of 187 thousand in habitants. This province
borders the Caribbean Sea to the north; the Kuna
Yala indian reservation to the east; the provinces
of Panama and Cocle to the south and Veraguas to
the west. Its capital is also called Colon and its
climate is mostly rainy from September through December,
while its summer lasts from January through April.
Travel from the city of Panama by car takes approximately
one hour and 45 minutes but beware of traffic jams
right now because the highway is being expanded
from a 2 to 4 lane freeway. If you prefef you can
also get there by bus or by plane.
City of Colón
Panama. (2000 pop. 204,208), is the second
largest city in Panama, at the Caribbean end
of the Panama Canal. Colón is surrounded
by, but not part of, the former Panama Canal
Zone. Colón is an important
port, commercial center, and tourist destination.
It was made a free trade zone in 1953 and
is the world's second largest duty-free port.
The city was founded in 1850 by Americans
working on the Panama railroad and was named
Aspinwall after one of the builders of the
railway until 1890. Colón is the Spanish
form of Columbus; the name of the neighboring
port of Cristobal is Spanish for Christopher.
After completion of the railway in 1855, Colón
overshadowed the older Caribbean ports of
Panama, and with the first plans for the isthmian
canal it took on additional prestige. Built
on a swampy island, the city was notoriously
unhealthful and often scourged by yellow fever
until Colonel William C. Gorgas, in charge
of sanitation during the canal construction,
gave it a new system of waterworks and sewerage
and drained the surrounding swamps. Colón
City is largely poor and very dangerous so
we discourage visiting the city for tourism.
It is a shame but this city has not prospered
in more than 30 years and remains unattractive.
Both locals and politicians have failed in
all of their attempts to revive the city to
make it an attraction for tourists. Most visitors
only get to see it because they go to the
Free Zone to buy goods.
Colon Free Zone
Grande is a popular place in Panama because
of its seclusion, and beauty.
People from all places come to the island
to enjoy the water, snorkling, fishing, listening
to the sea and skinny dipping(at night mostly).The
island's name does not really reflect it's
size, but in comparison to the other islands
that surround it, it is the biggest island.
The present population, of afrocolonial
origin, can be traced back to the period of
massive forced migrations, specially from
the regions of Guinea and the Congos, from
where they take their name ¨Congos¨.
Believers in magic, they still practice a
rhythmic dance with its contagious drumbeat.
You can visit as well the cathedral of the
Black Christ, credited for numerous miracles.
history as an interoceanic route began long
before the building of the Panama Canal. Following
the' Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in
South America, vast quantities of gold were
shipped to Spain from the Pacific Ocean via
Panama. The gold was unloaded from ships
at Old Panama, carried overland on the backs
of mules and reloaded on ships at Portobelo,
located a short distance from Colon on the Atlantic
coast. A visit to Portobelo, for a
view of old Spanish forts and the recently renovated
customs house, will round out your understanding
of Panama as an interoceanic route.
the massive bulwarks of the old forts, rusting,
cast-iron cannons are aimed out to seas once
made treacherous by marauding pirates hungry
for a taste of Spain's gold booty. This important
historic site has been named Cultural patrimony
of the World by UNESCO. In the two floors of
the recently renovated customs house, a museum
will soon be inaugurated with exhibits dedicated
to Panama's colonial history and the Gold Route.
Your tour to Portobelo can be rounded off by
a lobster dinner to the accompaniment of the
Congo Dances, which were begun by slaves to
poke fun at Spanish royal- ty. Dancers sing
songs with the words said backwards and wear
their clothes inside out in these interesting
Nombre de Dios
as a Spanish colony in 1510 by Diego de Nicuesa,
it was the first European settlement on the
Isthmus of Panama. Originally a major
port of call for the Spanish treasure fleet,
Nombre de Dios was situated near an unhealthy
swamp, and was nearly impossible to fortify.
Francis Drake sacked the colony in June of 1572,
and ambushed the Silver Train, a mule convoy
carrying a fortune in precious metals, in March
of the following year. Set on a deepwater bay
deemed easier to defend from the ravages of
pirates, Portobelo was heavily fortified and
for 150 years played host to the famous trade
fairs, when the Spanish treasure fleet came
to collect the riches that traveled across the
isthmus on mule trains from Panama City and
to leave merchandise brought from Seville for
distribution throughout the Americas. Unsurprisingly,
the wealth concentrated in the royal warehouses
here was an irresistible target for the pirates
who scoured the Spanish Main.
Nombre de Dios location