What is the terrain and geography like in Panama?
The countryside, by contrast, continues to resemble in many ways what it was 10 years ago. Small towns and Indian villages, many nestled in mountain valleys, have seen some changes but everything is "low rise" and "laid back." Rural Panama is the heartland of Panamanian native cultural life, with the typical music and dances of yesteryear still popular today. Here is where city dwellers flock for relief on weekends and over holidays.
Panama, the country — often-called "The Bridge between Two Worlds" — is a crossroads of world culture and international trade. Panama — the city — resembles much larger metropolitan centers in that it is a melting pot for nationality and culture. Panama, the people, is a cultural "Mezcla," (mix) or "Mosaico," (mosaic) of many races and cultures under the lively and energized daily rhythm of Latin society. Panama — the canal — functions in the lush, tropical green forests entirely with fresh water. Panama, the word, is a native term with the interchangeable meaning for "many fish," "many trees," or "many butterflies."
Wedged between North and South America, Panama appears pushed, squeezed, twisted, and stretched by the two continents dangling on either end. Panama’s snake-like "S" shape can disorient a new arrival. North and South "become" East and West. One imagines that in Panama City the sun rises in the West over the Pacific and sets in the East over the Atlantic. The Panama Canal lets ships, some 40 a day, sail West and East but they must go North and South to do so. South America lies to the East and to get to North America you head West — to where the sun rises.
The country largely avoids the Pacific rim’s earthquakes and its "ring of fire,"and escapes the Caribbean’s devastating tropical storms and hurricanes. Geography gives Panama one of the world’s most amazing collections of flora and fauna.