Panama is the southernmost country in Central America, situated between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It currently has the largest economy in Central America and continues to grow rapidly. Panama has a tumultuous history of invaders and colonizers dating back to the Spanish conquest in 1538 and ending in 1999 when America gave back control of the canal to Panama. While Panama may be most famous for its canal, the diverse ecosystem is its most popular attraction. Although Panama is one of the smallest Central American countries, it is home to over 900 species of birds, 1500 species of trees, and 7000 species of plants. There are many large areas still relatively undeveloped, including Ancon Hill, which used to be an American military base and is now referred to as an “island of jungle” within Panama City, making it the only rainforest within a city in the world. From the beaded necklaces of the Embera Indians to the bright molas of the Kuna Yalas, and from the toucans in the tree canopies to the crocodiles in the Chagres River, Panama provides a stunning plethora of sites to explore and new cultures to encounter. This photo essay, taken in the summer of 2008, illustrates the country of Panama during a unique time of blending old world traditions with new world modernism.
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