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Panama, Panama, Panama
Greetings from Panama! My name is Marina Ehrman and I have been a professional tour guide and promoter for Panama Tourism and Travel Company since 2005. I love what I do and am proud to share what my country has to offer. It is filled with endless leisure and commercial attractions, friendly happy people who open their doors to all visitors. Panama is a country of incomparable natural beauty with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful beaches in the Pacific and Caribbean. The tropical climate year round with its diversified flora, fauna and indigenous groups make it one of the most important of Ecotourism in Latin America. I invite you to know our country’s history, culture and also enjoy the cuisine, folklore and traditions that only a place in the world can provide………Panama! Contact me and I’ll organize your visit and will be happy to welcome you in Panama. For more information on Panama, follow my Facebook page and my blog. Visit

Living and Retirement in Panama

Panama is a one of the most beautiful places in the world. With the treaty with the United States there has been tremendous growth and development in Panama property. Tourism and Panama real estate are the biggest investments by the Panama government. There has been much effort put towards the real estate in Panama. The Panama real estate has been booming in the past few years. This means that if you are planning to buy Panama property then it is surely a good choice for you. This is because there has been massive growth and property development in Panama. More and more property developers are looking towards developing dormant Panama property and making it into something more useful land productive. Tourism is highly encouraged in Panama and there are tourists from all over the world that visit Panama. This helps in development and the growth of the economy. Also if you are looking to retire somewhere then Panama is one of the best places to settle down. With the beautiful beaches and the luxurious mountains it is the home that you would have always dreamed of. Tourism encourages people from all over the world to reach panama and many people who visit the place fall in love with its natural beauty. As a result people love to settle down and retire in Panama property. More and more people from all over the world today are buying panama property to retire in this beautiful country. To have a luxurious home in panama is one the passionate dreams of many hard working people from around the world

There are many reasons why someone should settle down in Panama property. Some of them would include low cost of living and the tax cuts. There are many tax benefits that one would get from living in Panama property. This would mean that all the money that you have earned can spent more effectively here. Further more this is more advantageous for the European buyers. This is because they can effectively take advantage of the weak dollar and along with the tax cuts can greatly help them out financially. The cultural of panama is diverse with people from all over the world coming to settle down here. Also English is a well spoken language in panama. This means that people from all over the world have no problems in blending in with the society of Panama. The culture is friendly and peaceful. You can choose to settle down on any one of the beach sides of Panama property. Both the pacific and the Caribbean sides are beautiful and it won’t matter which side you settle on. Also you can think about buying a home in the mountains of Panama. These mountains will help you to develop and love for nature with all the abundant flora and fauna that is present.

The wonderful climate will add to your enjoyment and you will develop a sense of love in your retirement. There are many properties for sale and if you want to invest you can look up to many real estate experts who will help you get the Panama property you want.

Panama Provides Free Medical Insurance for Tourists

How much does it cost?

It’s free!

How does it work?

Upon arriving in Tocumen International Airport, ask for a brochure and user card at the tourist information center before you go through customs. In the case of an emergency all you need is to present your passport and the user card to any medical establishment to receive care. This insurance is good for 30 days after your legal arrival in panama.

What does it cover?

The insurance policy will cover accidental death and repatriation of body (up to $20,000 dollars), hospitalization and medical expenses for injuries due to accidents or in case of contracting a disease in Panama (up to $7,000 dollars), expenses for dental emergency (up to $ 2,000 dollars), administrative legal assistance by accident (up to $ 3,500), lost or stolen documents, and necessary translation services, among others. You’ll find a complete description of the coverage in the brochure.

What does it not cover?

This insurance will not cover injuries that are the result of negligence, related to alcohol and drugs, those involved in extreme sports, among others.

Panama Business and Investing

Foreign investment is something the Panamanian government has always encouraged. Foreign investment in Panama is easier now than it has ever been. There is a new free trade agreement with the U.S., and a new domestic policy, Law 41 (2007), is designed specifically to reward multinational corporations, both large and small, for establishing regional headquarters here. Now is a great time to consider the opportunities in Panama.

Many foreign investors starting a business in Panama or purchasing real estate decide to use a corporate entity as an ownership vehicle. The specific corporate form is defined during the due diligence phase, and the corporation should be established in conjunction with the project and not as a separate consideration. The corporate ownership vehicle offers privacy and allows flexibility in estate planning, tax management, asset protection, and representation.

Should an investor use (or form) a local Panama corporate entity, or use an existing foreign corporation? The answer is “it depends,” but in most cases, the use of a local entity creates more benefits. If you use a foreign entity, make sure to register it in the Public Registery. Although Law 41 has streamlined the procedures for registration of foreign entities, it could still take several weeks to complete the process.

Panamanian commercial law allows many corporate forms. Two important forms that offer the investor structures similar to the familiar limited liability company are the “Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada” and the “Sociedad Anónima.” Determining which of the many forms is the correct choice is part of your due diligence efforts, but these are the two most prevalent forms with the S.A. as the preferred vehicle.

The S.A. has many features which offer privacy. Some of the more important features are: no requirements to disclose ownership; no restrictions on owning investments outside of Panama; no restrictions concerning ownership of shares; no residence requirements for Directors/Officers; no requirements to file annual Financial Statements; no requirement to hold annual General Meetings of Shareholders or Directors. This feature is very important – the accounting books for the corporation can be kept in any part of the world and in any language.

Entities doing business within Panama must register with the Tax Authority. Formal tax registration is not needed if the corporation simply holds real estate, or does not generate taxable income within the territory of Panama. “Within” means any transaction that is from a location in Panama to another location in Panama. Anything that crosses a border is a non-taxable transaction. Directing transactions in other countries from Panama is non-taxable.

Every corporation must reside in Panama or have a local registered agent. There is an annual registration fee paid to maintain a valid registration at the Public Registry of Panama. The fees and taxes are quite reasonable, but must be paid promptly. Late payment can produce penalties or cause the company to be stricken from the Register.

A corporation may adopt by-laws for the regulation of its internal affairs and procedures, but adoption is not mandatory. If by-laws are adopted, they can be registered at the discretion of the directors of the corporation. Registration of by-laws is not mandatory, but if the directors decide to register the by-laws, any amendments to the by-laws must be registered as well.

Historical Old Quarter (Casco Antiguo) Tour

Boyaca House and Tiger 's Paw


One of these Panama’s historic icons is the Boyacá House located in the neighborhood of Santa Ana. The Boyacá House took its name from its resemblance to the bow of a ship. Boyacá was a famous Colombian war ship of the time.

Next to this singular wooden house is a segment of the “Tiger’s Paw” bastion, the only place in Casco Antiguo where it’s possible to have an idea of the original appearance and dimensions of the colonial fortifications facing inland. 

The Flat Arch and Santo Domingo Church

The ruins of the church and convent of Santo Domingo is one of the most important monumental colonial Old Town of Panama. The flat arch is part of this church and is known to be a genuine construction of masonry. The Dominican friars began to build their church immediately after the founding of Casco Antiguo on 1678 . But the fire of 1756 burned all the woodwork and the church was not rebuilt - but the flat arch still stood.

The arch "survived" but even more impressive is the fact that this brink arch, spanning a space of 50 feet, 35 feet high at the crown and 25 feet at the spring is so flat that it is said to be an engineering "sport". The Panama Guide by John O. Collins 1912

This architectural triumph has remained intact, resisting earthquakes and time with no support other than the terminal arches. This fact has puzzled practical architects from all over the world. This old arch also played an important part in building the canal, for the reason that it had remained standing all these years was convincing proof that Panama was outside of the earthquake area, and this fact was a deciding factor in the momentous question of building a lock type canal when the question was being debated as to the feasibility of a sea-level or lock type.

Unfortunately, the flat arch collapsed on Friday night, November 7, 2003 but it is has been reconstructed.

Currently the ruins of the old church of Santo Domingo are undergoing construction. They will provide a space for cultural and artistic presentations in the future

The Panama Canal Museum

In a beautifully restored building facing the Plaza de la Catedral is the Panama Canal Museum located. The museum interprets through permanent exhibitions the construction of Panama's canal, its importance as an interoceanic route and the technological and financial advances made around the world as a result of the canal's construction.
Back in the day, the building where the museum is located was built in 1875 to be originally used as a hotel facility equipped with a monumental structure in the French style. It occupies an area of 1 239 square meters and a total building area of over 4 000 square meters, also was the headquarter of the French canal company. Afterwards the U.S. Isthmian Canal Commission had its offices in there and in 1912 it became the main Post Office. Since 1997 it is the Panama Canal Museum.

History Museum of Panama

Located on the second floor of the Municipal Palace building, the Museum of History presents documents, ceramics, furniture, clothing, weapons, paintings, sculptures and pieces of the colonial period, federal, provincial and republican.

Casa Museo Endara

The building was built between 1909 and 1910 and was the residence and studio of Carlos Endara, pioneering photographer in Panama. One of the most reliable restoration of the historic center. The museum was inaugurated in November 2008. It has a valuable selection of photographs and objects from Carlos Endara.

The Fish Market
The fish market is a white and light blue building with the Japanese and Panamanian flags on the top of the building. The Japanese government donated the new fish market installations. The market can't be missed as it is located at the very entrance of Casco Viejo, just off Avenida Balboa.

In what is one of the most impressive displays of local fish and seafood you'll find anything from fresh yellow fin tuna, shrimp & prawns the size of your hand, red snapper (pargo rojo), mahi mahi (dorado), octopus (pulpo) and much more! 

 Simon Bolivar Plaza

Known originally as the Plaza de San Francisco in 1883 the city council devoted the plaza to the Liberator: In the center of the plaza is a monument to the Venezuelan general Simon Bolivar, also known as the "Liberator of Latin America," with decorative friezes marking events of his life and an Andean condor perched above him.

In 1826 (4 years before his death) Bolivar organized an independence meeting in a schoolroom opposite of the park urging the union of all Latin American countries. After struggling against the Spanish domination, he finally succeeded in liberating Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Bolivar is respected as a hero throughout Latin America.

This plaza goes back to the 1756 fire, which destroyed the houses that originally stood on this spot. In 1883 the empty lot was named Bolivar Plaza. A monument commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of Bolivar Amphictyonic Congress was placed in the middle of the plaza in 1926 to coincide with the Pan American Congress of that year.

The Hotel Colombia

The Hotel Colombia, across the street from  Simon Bolivar Plaza it, was one of the country's best when it opened its doors in 1937, but it fell into neglect during the late 20th century until it was renovated in the 1990s and converted to luxury apartments.

French Plaza

Originally Plaza de Francia was the main square of the city. This plaza is located at the very tip of the peninsula and in the center is an obelisk topped by a rooster, a symbol of the French nation. The 12 slabs of marble outline the history of the Panama Canal. All around are busts of Panamanian engineer Pero J. Sosa and French citizens (most of them were from France and French islands such as Guadeloupe or Martinique) who were prominent in the construction of the Canal. This impressive monument honors those 22,000 workers and engineers who died (due to Yellow Fever & Malaria) trying to build the canal.

Besides the Monument, on this plaza you will find French Embassy, Esteban Huertas Promenade, Anita Villalaz Theatre, The National Institute of Culture Building, and a beautiful view of the Panama City Bay, Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas) and the Amador Causeway. You can also find nine restored dungeons on the plaza which were used by the Spanish.

Plaza Herrera

This plaza originated in the wake of the 1781 fire. It was originally used for bull fights and first known as Piazza del Triunfo. Later, in 1887, being renamed for one of Panama's independence heroes: Panamanian general and statesman Tomas Herrera (1804-54) . He led the 1840 movement to make Panama a free state, separate from Colombia. He served as president of Panama during its single year of independence. Herrera later became a high-ranking Colombian official and put down a rebellion in 1854

Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Palacio Bolivar

Salón Bolívar is part of beautifully renovated colonial building Palacio Bolivar on the Plaza. Lucky visitors of the palace that now serves as Panama’s Foreign Ministry offices are afforded a water’s edge view all the way to Panama Viejo. The Salon is now a small museum about Panama’s political history. The documents of the Amphictyonic Congress, organized by Simón Bolívar in 1826 to create a confederation between Columbia, Mexico and Central America and lent by the Brazilian government, are on exhibit here.

Plaza de la Independencia & The Cathedral Metropolitana

The Metropolitan Cathedral is located on Plaza de la Catedral also known as Plaza de la Independencia which is the heart of Casco Viejo with many events through out the year. It is an important landmark of Casco Antiguo. It has been used as a bullring. By 1890 it was transformed into a park with elements of the French influence. In November 1903 Panama declared its independence from Columbia on this Plaza. It was at that moment that the Republic of Panama was born, with much euphoria.

The cathedral reflects best the Spanish presence due to the buildings dimensions and age. The construction of this building lasted over 100 years.

The Palacio Municipal is also located on Plaza de La Independencia. The palace was the former town hall, but was demolished in 1910. A building with an important history: The proclamation of independence from Spain in 1821 and the separation from Columbia in 1903 happened there. Designed by Ruggieri this historic Neo-Renaissance style building with Greek columns and reliefs of mythological inspiration (Mercury and Vulcan) houses the Museum of Panamanian history.

Plaza de Santa Ana

In the mid-nineteenth century this plaza was used as a market. At the end of the century it was a symbol of economic boom and the cosmopolitan character of the city: there were elegant hotels, bazaars offering fine imported goods, and two of the first theaters in Panama located. During the twentieth century it was the scene of major protests and nationalist. Today it is the steet of the pedestrian mall of Avenida Central.

San Jose Church

This church is located right on Avenida A and famous for the distinctive baroque Altar de Oro (The Golden Altar), which was saved from Panama Viejo and transported into the "new" city. The altar was about the only thing of value salvaged after Henry Morgan sacked Panama Viejo. A priest painted the altar black to disguise it.

Almost every weekend weddings are being held there.

Iglesia de la Merced

This church was already built in 1680 after having been moved, stone by stone, from its previous site in Panama Viejo. The facade is still an excellent example of one of Casco Viejo's oldest buildings. The chapel was recently renovated. This church was the one that kept most of the birth & baptism records of Panama City. La Merced Church also houses a small museum.
The Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus

The ruins of the Convent and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, is one of the most striking once in Casco Viejo. Back in 1667 it was the home of the Royal Pontifical University of San Javier. In 1781 the church was destroyed by a fire and further damaged by an earthquake in 1882. Panama's government restored the ruins of the convent in 1983 but it is again undergoing reconstruction.

San Francisco de Asis Church

The old convent of San Francisco next door was abandoned after the fire of the eighteenth century. It was part of important historical events such as the celebration of the Amphictyonic Congress in 1826. This church is one of the original structures of Casco Viejo.

Iglesia San Francisco de Asis is one of the smallest but most ornate churches in Casco Viejo. It sits on Plaza Bolivar across the street from the National Theater. As were many of the buildings in the neighborhood, the church was ravaged by fire in 1737 and again in 1756. Restored in 1998, it is now one of the most striking churches in Panama.
Presidential Palace

Palacio de las Garzas (Heron's Palace), the official name of the presidential palace, named for the numerous herons that inhabit the building. The original building was constructed in 1673.

Palacio de las Garzas is the official residence of the President and bears its name because of resident African herons who were brought as a gift in 1922 after the final renovations were completed under President Belisario Porras. The airy interior courtyard and lobby are remodeled in the style of an Andalusian courtyard and the herons roam the courtyard freely. The palace was originally built in the 17th century by an official of the Spanish crown and used as a customs house for a while. It is closed to the public, but depending on who is standing guard at the gate and what is going on inside, it is not unheard of for a guard to allow you to take a few quick photos of the impressive lobby. 

Casa Gongora

The only example of domestic colonial architecture of the seventeenth century. Built around 1760, it is named after Paul Gongora Caceres, a prominent merchant. It was restored in 1998-99 with local labor and they managed to keep the ancient woodworking (doors, balconies, armor). The building retains its original layout and belongs to the Municipality of Panama. There are regular exhibitions of Panamanian artists.

Club de Clases y Tropas

This is an abandon ruin and General Noriega's favorite hangout. In 1989 it was almost completely destroyed during the invasion.

Both movies, James Bond Quantum Of Solace as well as The Tailor of Panama filmed scenes in this ruin. On the weekends you can find young locals skating here.

Paseo Esteban Huertas

The Paseo Esteban Huertas begins on one side of the former Union Club and ends at Plaza de Francia. It was laid out in 1744-46 on the Chiriqui bastion, a well-preserved part of the colonial city wall. It is a waterfront promenade jutting out into the Pacific. It provides a beautiful view on the Puente de las Americas, the Amador Causeway and all the ships which are lining up to enter the canal.
Las Bovedas

Las Bovedas is located on a part of the walled city built in the eighteenth century (part of Plaza de Francia). This building which consists of a row of vaulted spaces - hence the name bovedas which means vaults - is part of Panama City's colonial fortification. It was restored in 1983. The Vaults have been used as stores, offices, jail, dormitory and restaurants. Today you can find stores and a restaurant there.

Culture National Bureau & Anita Villalaz Theatre

The Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panama (INAC) was formerly the Supreme Court building (till 1996). You might have also seen it in a recent James Bond movie (Quantum of Solace).

You can find a small theater (Anita Villalaz Theatre) inside the building hosting various events through the year like theater performances, concerts and conferences. It has two levels (orchestra and gallery). The maximum capacity are 250 seats.

National Theater

The National Theater was built between 1905 and 1907 (opened in 1908) and its interior has been completely restored. Mostly red and golden decorations, an impressive ceiling - mural showing muses and people who are important for the country - painted by Roberto Lewis (one of Panama's finest painters) and an enormous crystal chandelier can be found inside. This performance center has an outstanding natural acoustics and provides an intimate performance environment and seating for about 800 guests. It presents a comprehensive program of music, dance and theater.

The Emerald Museum

Admission to this museum is free but you must pass through their tempting emerald jewelry store on the way out. The museum is small but gives a good overview of the emerald mining industry and its history. The recreated mine you can enter and explore also makes it fun for kids.

Galería Juan Manuel Cedeno

Juan Manuel Cedeño is one of the most famous Panamanian artists, along with Guillermo Trujillo and Alfredo Sinclair. He is most famous for his drawings and sketches - clean, precise, subtle and moving. This small gallery space, located on Plaza Francia, is run by the National Institute of Culture (INAC) and houses a collection of Panamanian and Latin American artists.

La Iglesia San Felipe Neri

San Felipe de Neri was inaugurated in 1688 and is considered one of the oldest churches in the city. It has been home to many things over time, including a school, a seminary and a center for Catholic Cultural Action, as well as most recently, a home for the elderly. Modern restoration began in 1995.

When to go to Panama ?

Panama’s high tourist season corresponds with its Pacific-side dry season, from mid-December to mid-April. During these months, there is relatively little rain in Panama City and elsewhere south of the Continental Divide.

North of the mountains, on the Caribbean side of Panama, it rains all year round. However, it tends to rain less in February, March, September and October than it does the rest of the year.

The best time to visit Panama really depends on what you plan to do. If you intend to spend most of your time on the Pacific side, you might want to visit in December or January, when there’s generally little rain and the weather is pleasant. Bear in mind, however, that hotel prices and airfares are generally higher from mid-December to mid-April.

If you’ll be doing any serious hiking, the dry season is the most comfortable time to do it. For planning purposes, be aware that Panama’s mountains can get very cold at night; if you’re considering camping at altitude (in Boquete, El Valle or Cerro Punta, for example), be sure to bring warm clothing.

If you’ll be spending most of your holiday surfing, bear in mind that swells are fairly constant in the Pacific year-round, though offshore winds from December to mid-April can add a few meters to curl. However, Caribbean swells are a bit more fickle, and are usually dependent on weather patterns in the region.

Other outdoor pursuits are also weather dependent. Rafting is at its best is Chiriquí Province from May to December when the rivers are running high, while diving is best from December to mid-April when the dry season lends better visibility.

Some of Panama’s colorful festivals draw enormous crowds, and are well worth attending if you’re in the area. The Península de Azuero is very popular for its Carnaval (Mardi Gras) – the celebrations are held on the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Panama City’s Carnaval is also popular (and one of the world’s largest). Hotel reservations during Carnaval are a must and should be made well in advance. Panama has a number of other festivals worth catching, especially on the Península de Azuero.

Official holidays in Panama include January 1 (New Year's Day), January 9 (Martyr's Day), Good Friday, Easter Sunday, May 1 (Labor Day), August 15 (Founding of Old Panama -- observed in Panama City only), October 12 (Hispanic Day), November 2 (All Souls' Day), November 3 (Independence Day), November 4 (Flag Day), November 5 (Colón Day -- observed in the city of Colón only), November 10 (First Call for Independence), November 28 (Independence from Spain), December 8 (Mother's Day), December 25 (Christmas Day).

Canal Watershed: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a watershed?

A watershed is a land area where rainfall and ground water drains into a common body of water, which may be a river, lake, or the ocean. The boundaries of a watershed are set naturally by divides or ridges at the highest elevations, from which the water flows into a river or lake.
What is watershed management?
Watershed management is the an iterative, integrated process applied by humans to utilize and protect the natural resources of a watershed, for the purpose of obtaining an optimum and sustainable production of water.
The concept of an integrated watershed management requires a carefully coordinated partnership in the utilization of water, land, and natural resources, to achieve the best equitable and sustainable social and economic benefits for the inhabitants of the watershed.
It also involves the organization of the land and the integrated management of natural resources with a vision for sustainable development over the long term.The basis of watershed management is the sound utilization by humans of the natural resources available in the watershed, along with the appropriate, all-encompassing efforts to educate the public, and the establishment of mechanisms for coordination between agencies and communities.
What are the objectives of watershed management?
  • The improvement of socioeconomic conditions of the users of water and natural resources..
  • The conservation of natural resources according to the country’s established policies and strategies.
  • A greater productivity of natural resources, and their maintenance, to meet the country’s requirements.
  • The restoration of areas that have degraded.
  • The enforcement of a hydrologic regime.
  • To seek a technical complementation by public and private organizations linked to watershed management
What are the benefits of managing watersheds?
  • The supply of water for human consumption.
  • The availability of enough water volume for other uses (irrigation, transportation, etc.)
  • The availability of natural recreation and research areas.
  • The conservation of natural resources and biological diversity.
  • The conservation and protection of soils against erosion.
  • The protection of water sources against pollution and sedimentation.
What is the vision of ACP with regard to the watershed?
To become a world leader on sustainable development by conserving the Canal Watershed.
What is the mission of ACP with regard to the watershed?
To administer and conserve Canal water resources, participate actively in the protection of the environment and the sustainable development of the Canal Watershed.
What is the chronology of the creation of the watershed?
Actually, a watershed is not “created”; it is a geographically distinct natural land area. The description below is the chronology of the actions that have been taken to legally define the Panama Canal Watershed boundary coordinates and of other legal measures for its establishment.
December 1993: In preparation for the orderly transfer of the Canal to the Republic of Panama in 1999, the Panama Legislative Assembly passed, by a majority vote, the first legislation on the Canal, a new Constitutional Title. This created the legal framework that would be subsequently developed with laws and regulations to allow the continued efficient operation of the Panama Canal under a Panamanian administration.
May 1995: A newly inaugurated Panama Legislative Assembly ratified, by a majority vote, the Constitutional Title passed by the previous Assembly. This Title establishes, in its Article 310, that the Panama Canal Authority is responsible for the administration, maintenance, use, and conservation of the water resources in the area known as the Panama Canal Watershed. Article 13, 5 of the new Title also establishes that the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority has the power and duty to propose the boundaries of the Panama Canal Watershed, for the approval of the Panama Cabinet Council and the Panama Legislative Assembly. In its Article 317, the Constitutional Title also establishes that the Panama Canal Authority will regulate the matters covered by the Title.
June 11, 1997: After a wide consultation with the country’s civilian and political circles, Organic Law 19 on the Panama Canal Authority was passed whereby the Panama Canal Authority is established and organized, in compliance with the provisions of Article 317 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama. This law establishes the organization and operation of the Panama Canal Authority with the objective of “making the Canal a safe and profitable enterprise, a pillar in the human, social, and economic development of the country”.
With this preamble, Law 19 assigns to the Panama Canal Authority the responsibility of operating, managing, using, and conserving the water resources of the Panama Canal Watershed, and requires that it administer the water resources in such a manner as to ensure a water supply for the communities adjacent to the Canal (Panama, San Miguelito, Colon, Arraijan and La Chorrera). Article 18, 6, also assigns to the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority the responsibility of proposing the boundaries of the Canal Watershed for approval by the Panama Cabinet Council and the Legislative Branch.
June 1999: In compliance with the Constitution and Law 19 – and in preparation for the imminent transfer of the Canal and the new responsibility of conserving and managing the water the Canal organization would have thereafter– the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority proposed the boundaries of the Canal Watershed for approval by the Panama Cabinet Council and Legislative Assembly.
August 18, 1999: After three debates, the Panama Legislative Branch, by majority vote, passed Law 44, which reflects the sole purpose of defining the boundaries of the Panama Canal Watershed. Such boundaries, as defined by this law, added some 212,000 hectares westward from what was traditionally known as the Canal Watershed, and named it the Western Region of the Watershed. Law 44 thereby established that the Watershed has a surface of 552,761 hectares encompassing 11 districts and 48 corregimientos in the provinces of Panama, Colon and Cocle.
June 21, 2006: The Official Gazette publishes Law No. 20, whose Article 21 reads: “Law 44 of 1999, whereby the boundaries of the Panama Canal Watershed are approved, is hereby revoked.”
What are the boundaries of the Panama Canal Watershed?
The current boundaries of the Panama Canal Watershed are geographically defined by the highest elevations of the hills and mountains that flow into Gatun Lake. These natural boundaries are those of the watershed of the Chagres River, which were dammed in 1914 by Gatun Dam during the construction of the Canal. For the purposes of allowing the Panama Canal Authority to manage and administer, the Miraflores Lake sub-basin has been included in the Panama Canal Watershed.
How many regions are there in the Panama Canal Watershed?
The Canal Watershed is divided in three hydrographic regions, the smallest being the Miraflores Lake sub-basin, located on the southern end of the Watershed, into which the shortest rivers drain, such as the Cocoli, Grande, Camaron and Cardenas rivers. The Alahuela (Madden) Lake sub-basin region is located on the eastern side of the Canal Watershed, into which flow the Boqueron and Pequeni rivers, as well as the waters from the uplands of the Chagares River and those of other minor streams such as La Puente, Salamanca and Las Cascadas. The main water region is that of Gatun Lake, which occupies the central and western parts of the Watershed. Rivers Gatún, Ciri Grande, Trinidad, the middle course of the Chagres and other minor rivers such as Caño Quebrado, Los Hules, Pescado, Paja, Baila Monos, Frijoles, Agua Salud and Mandinga drain into Gatun Lake.
To what agency was the responsibility for the management and conservation of the Panama Canal Watershed assigned?
The Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama and the Organic Law of the Panama Canal Authority have assigned the responsibility for the management, maintenance, use, and conservation of the water resources of the Panama Canal Watershed to the Panama Canal Authority, due to the importance of water for the operation of the waterway. The Panama Canal Authority is also required by law to administer the water resources to ensure enough water supply for the population in the adjacent cities of Panama, Colon, La Chorrera, and Arraijan.
Is there a high level committee to coordinate the efforts by the Panama Government to protect the Watershed?
The Comisión Interinstitucional de la Cuenca Hidrográfica del Canal (CICH) (Panama Canal Watershed Interagency Committee) has been established to coordinate the work of Panama Government agencies and of the Panama Canal Authority to conserve the region’s natural resources.
What are the agencies involved in the CICH committee?
  • The Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
  • The Panama Ministry of Government and Justice (Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia - MINGOB)
  • The Panama Ministry of Housing (Ministerio de Vivienda - MIVI)
  • The Ministry of Agricultural Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario - MIDA)
  • The Panama National Environmental Protection Authority (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente - ANAM)
  • The Panama Ministry of Economy and Finance (Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas - MEF)
  • Two non governmental organizations:
    • Caritas Arquidiocesana, and
    • Fundación NATURA.

What are the objectives of CICH?
  • Obtain resources and promote initiatives for financing through national and international sources.
  • Promote the sustainable development of the Panama Canal Watershed. 
What are the sustainable development goals of the Panama Canal Watershed?
  • Promote an active participation by the community and improve interagency coordination mechanisms
  • Conserve the quantity and quality of Panama Canal Watershed resources in order to provide a water supply for the population, human activities, and Canal operations
  • Recover, protect, and conserve biodiversity, and natural and cultural resources
  • Consolidate and carry out plans, programs, projects and activities within the Panama Canal Watershed in a coordinated manner, to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of the Watershed areas
Are studies being conducted in the Panama Canal Watershed at this time?
Studies are being conducted at the present time to determine the value of the water in the Panama Canal Watershed, by evaluating its potential in view of the future demands for drinking water for the population and for the operation of the waterway. These studies will also help define the best way to achieve a development that may result in real and tangible benefits for all the inhabitants of the Watershed. No decision will be made without giving prior consideration to the impact the various alternatives may have on Watershed residents.
What type of dissemination has been given to Panama Canal Watershed issues?
Between the years 2000 and 2005, the Panama Canal Authority held a series of meetings, round table discussions, and workshops with approximately 850 residents and local authorities of the Watershed and its surrounding areas.
Also, 121 meetings were held throughout the country to provide information various sectors, such as the civilian population, the Catholic Church, political parties, business groups, and the Panama Government.
Some of the means used to disseminate information about the Panama Canal Watershed are: El Faro, a biweekly magazine published by the Panama Canal Authority in the local newspapers; the Panama Canal Authority website (; the Comisión Interinstitucional de la Cuenca Hidrográfica del Canal de Panamá – CICH website (, and strategically located information booth throughout the country.
Is the Panama Canal Watershed being excessively deforested?
The Panama Canal Authority and the Panama National Environmental Protection Authority (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente - ANAM) are conducting a forest cover surveillance program in the Panama Canal Watershed. This study shows very low deforestation rates inside the Watershed in the last 5 years, with an average loss of 30 to 40 hectares per year. Such deforestation occurs mainly in fragmented secondary growth, stubble, and underbrush areas for which ANAM grants permits for subsistence farming. At this time, as a result of the Panama Canal Authority reforestation programs and the work of other Government agencies, private companies, and conservation groups, in addition to the natural regeneration process, it can be said that the vegetation cover in the Watershed is keeping a dynamic balance. If deforestation rates are maintained or fall, and the reforestation programs are continued, the trend will be toward a slow recovery of the forest.
Are the rivers in the Watershed polluted?
The results of the surveillance and quality control follow up programs which the Panama Canal Authority conducts in the Watershed show that the water quality at the hydrology stations is between good and excellent, and qualifies for various uses. The parameters that have been analyzed were within acceptable limits with regard to their respective guideline values, showing a healthy condition of the water system, as well as of its capacity for self-purification.

Panama Canal Administration Building and Monument : Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Administration Building built?

The construction of the current Administration Building started in March 1913 and was completed on June 30, 1915.
Who was the architect who designed the Administration Building?
The architect was Austin Lord, of the firm Lord, Hewlett and Tallet of New York, and Mario J. Schiavoney was his assistant in Panama.
Where was the Administration Building located previously?
The Administration Building had been located in the town of Culebra until 1915.
Who painted the murals of the Administration Building?
The murals in the rotunda were painted by W. B. Van Ingen of New York, assisted by Berry and Ira Ramsen. The paintings were done in New York on 958 square feet of canvas, and depict one of the world’s most monumental works: the excavation and construction of the Panama Canal.
What was the cost of construction of the Administration Building?
The total was of $879,000.
When was the Governor's House built?
The current Governor’s House was built in Ancon in 1914 at a cost of approximately $16,300.
Where was the Governor's House previously located?
In 1906, the Governor’s House had been located in the town of Culebra, near the Culebra Cut works.
When was Goethals' monument constructed?
The marble monument to the memory of George Goethals was built on March 31, 1954 with Federal funds authorized by an act of the U.S. Congress.
Who made the commemorative Gaillard plaque?
The sculpted Gaillard bronze tablet was the work of the famous American artist James Earl Fraser, and was manufactured by the Kuntz Foundry of New York in 1927. On February 4, 1928, this plaque to the memory of Colonel David DuBose Gaillard was unveiled at Contractor’s Hill. The plaque was a gift from the Gaillard family.

What is the current toll paid for transiting the Canal?

Tolls Assessment
Updated: 13-Nov-2010
Tolls are the fees paid by ships to use the Canal. In general, tolls are determined by ship measurements parameters. The adopted system follows the precept of article 315 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama to the effect that the Panama Canal "shall remain open to the peaceful and uninterrupted transit of vessels of all nations," is consistent with the principles of International Law, and ensures equal treatment for all users of the waterway.
The Panama Canal Authority has issued the required regulations to implement the new measurement and toll procedures and the setting of tolls, rates, and fees for the transit of vessels through the Canal.
The tonnage measurement system in use in the Canal, for the most part, is known as Panama Canal Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS), following the rules of the 1969 International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships.
To determine net Canal tonnage, this system applies a mathematical formula for the measurement of total ship volume. A net Panama Canal ton is equivalent to 100 cubic feet of volumetric capacity. The appropriate rate is applied depending on whether the ship is laden or in ballast (empty). The "laden" rate is applied to ships carrying cargo or passengers, and the "ballast" rate is applied to ships that are not carrying passengers or cargo. For a ship to be applied the "ballast" (empty) rate, it may not carry fuel for its own consumption beyond the volume of the certified tanks with the official mark for liquid fuel. Other floating craft, including warships with the exception of military and naval transports; colliers; supply vessels; and hospital ships are charged on the basis of their actual displacement tonnage. One displacement ton is equivalent to one long ton or 35 cubic feet of salt water.
In October 2002, Panama adopted a new Canal tolls structure. The structure in force until then, which dated back to 1912, was based on a rate per ton applicable to all ships. The change was based on ship size and type and provided for separate locomotive usage rates. This more equitable system that is now is applied according to the transit needs of each ship, allows each vessel to be charged for the specific services it uses.
In 2005, the ACP implemented a change in its admeasurement system applicable only to full container vessels and those vessels with container-carrying capacity on-deck. The full container vessel adjustment modified the traditional measure utilized as the charge basis for these vessels, from PC/UMS Net Ton to a twenty feet container, or TEU (“twenty-foot equivalent unit”) and established the total TEU capacity, including on-deck, as the basis for the new charge. The implementation was conducted over three years, beginning on May 1, 2005, and culminating on May 1, 2007.
For other vessel types with on-deck container carrying capacity, the ACP continues to apply the PC/UMS tonnage to measure the enclosed spaces and spaces below deck, and charge a per TEU fee to the actual number of containers carried on-deck, in accordance with the first table.
Prior to the implementation of the new system the ACP charged full container vessels for a small portion (8.78%) of the cargo transported on-deck and applied the PC/UMS net ton to enclosed spaces and below deck.
In 2007, continuing with the price differentiation efforts begun in 2002, the ACP modified its regulations for the admeasurement of vessels and the tolls system of the Panama Canal to more closely align Canal toll charges to the value of the route. In the case of passenger vessels, the ACP assessed tolls based on the maximum passenger capacity in accordance with the International Tonnage Certificate 69, or the vessel’s passenger ship safety certificate; vessels over 30,000 gross tons and whose PC/UMS ÷ maximum passenger capacity ratio is equal to or less than 33 were charged on a per berth basis.


The segmentation system by vessel type and size enhanced the possibility for the Panama Canal Authority to offer new products to the various market segments, and places it in a position to competitively improve its services to users. Likewise, it allowed the Canal to continue its modernization program in order to remain as a route of the first order for world trade, and a strategic resource for the social and economic development of Panama.
During informal consultations between November 2009 and April 2010, the ACP presented to the industry a price structure. Upon consideration of the suggestions received, the ACP developed a new proposal, choosing to postpone the implementation of the new tolls until January 2011.
On the basis of discussions with industry representatives, shipping lines, and government representatives, as well as the Canal’s own internal analysis, and in view of the the global economic situation, the ACP decided not to proceed with a tolls adjustment in 2010 and set January 1, 2011 as the new date for implementing the tolls for all segments except reefers.
Specifically, the ACP will calculate container segment tolls with a slight price adjustment to the capacity charge, and an additional new charge that would apply to the number of loaded containers aboard the vessel at the time of transit. The reefer segment increase portion applicable to the PC/UMS tons will be effective April 1, 2011.

Tolls in 2011 will be as follows:

Panama Canal Tolls and Transits: Frequently Asked Questions

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How many times have the tolls been increased?
As of October 1, 2009, there have been 10 toll increases:
  • July 8, 1974 - 19.7%
  • November 18, 1976 - 19.5%
  • October 1, 1979 - 29.3%
  • March 12, 1983 - 9.8%
  • October 1, 1989 - 9.8%
  • October 1, 1992 - 9.9%
  • January 1, 1997 - implementation in two (2) phases:
    • January 1, 1997 - 8.2%
    • January 1, 1998 - 7.5%
  • October 1, 2002 - implementation in two (2) phases:
    • October 1, 2002 - 8%
    • July 1, 2003 - 4.5%
  • May 1, 2005 - Adjustment per TEU with implementation in three (3) phases:
    • May 1, 2005
    • May 1, 2006 and
    • May 1, 2007
  • July 1, 2007 - implementation in three (3) phases:
    • July and October 1, 2007 - 5.7% average
    • May and October 1, 2008 - 14.2% average
    • May and October 1, 2009 -10.1% average
What is the lowest toll paid to date?
The lowest tolls to date were paid by Richard Halliburton, who swam the Panama Canal in 1928. Halliburton paid only 36 cents.
Which vessel made the fastest transit through the Panama Canal?
The fastest transit was made by the U.S. Navy hydrofoil Pegasus, which crossed the Canal from Miraflores to Gatun in 2 hours 41 minutes in June 1979.
How many vessels have transited the Canal since its inauguration?

At the end of fiscal year 2010, 1,001,037 vessels had used the waterway since its opening on August 15, 1914.,

Panama Canal Physical Characteristic : Frequently Asked Questions

What is the length of the waterway?

The length of the Panama Canal is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the deep waters of the Atlantic to the deep waters of the Pacific.
What is the size of Gatun Lake?
Lake Gatun covers an area of 163.38 square miles and was formed by the construction of an earthen dam across the Chagres River which runs northward toward the Caribbean Sea.
What is the length of Culebra or Gaillard Cut?
Culebra Cut is 13.7 kilometers long and extends from Gatun Lake to Pedro Miguel Locks.
When was Madden Dam built?
Construction of Madden Dam started in February 1932 and was completed in 1935.
Why is it called Madden Dam?
Madden Dam was named in honor of Martin B. Madden, member of the U.S. Appropriations Committee from Illinois.
When was Gatun Dam built?
Construction of Gatun Dam started in 1906 and was completed in 1910.
What is the horsepower in a towing locomotive?
New locomotives weigh 50 tons each and operate with two traction units of 290 HP each, compared to the 170 HP units of the previous locomotive model.
How much did the first "mules" cost, and what is their current cost?
The first mules or locomotives cost $13,217 and were built by General Electric, an American company. Mitsubishi, a Japanese company, is the current manufacturer of Panama Canal locomotives, which cost US$2 million each.
What is the size of each lock chamber?
Each chamber is 110 feet wide by 1,000 feet long. The total volume of concrete used to build the locks was 3,440,488 cubic meters.
What is the size of each miter gate?
All gates are 65 feet wide by 7 feet deep. Their height, however, varies from 47 to 82 feet, depending on their location. Miraflores lock gates are the tallest, due to the variation in Pacific Ocean tides. There are 46 gates, and their weight is of 353.8 to 662.2 tons.
How is a lock chamber filled?
To fill a chamber, the lower lock valves are closed and the upper valves are opened. The water comes from Gatun Lake through long ducts, and enters the chamber through 20 holes in the chamber floor. To release the water from the locks, the upper valves are closed, and the lower valves are opened.
How long does it take to fill a lock chamber?
A Panama Canal lock chamber fills up in 8 minutes.
Where does the water that fills the lock chambers originate?
All water used in any lock chamber comes from Gatun Lake. This lake covers 163.38 square miles and was created when Gatun Dam was built. At one time, Gatun Lake was the largest artificial lake in the world.
How high above sea level is a vessel raised?
Ships are raised 85 feet over sea level. This is the level of Gatun Lake.
How many tugboats does the Panama Canal have?
Tugboats assist ships during their transit through the Canal, mainly when entering and leaving the locks, and during their transit through Culebra Cut, where great maneuverability and power are required. The current Panama Canal tugboat fleet totals 36 units.