Did you know?
Panama has more than a 1,000 miles of coastline, with 1,000 islands on the Pacific side and 600 islands on the Caribbean side.
Spanish but English is widely spoken.
None required for British passport-holders.
There are no direct flights from the UK.
You can fly via three main US hubs, Miami, Los Angeles or New York, which are served by a number of carriers such as United Airlines, US Airways, Northwest Airlines, and Continental Airlines. The connecting journey can be made with Panama's national carrier Copa.
It varies between nine and 18 hours depending on which US hub you fly into.
Panama has a number of domestic airlines and a good domestic flight network. There's an inexpensive bus system servicing all accessible parts of the country. Boats are the principal mode of transport in several parts of Panama, particularly between the San Blas and Bocas del Toro archipelagos.
For a rough guide, a cup of coffee is about 15p, a four-mile taxi ride is about £1, a can of beer is about 55p and a moderately priced meal is about £1.40.
The dry season runs from around mid-December to mid-April. The weather can be hot and steamy in the lowlands during the rainy season, when the humidity makes the heat more oppressive.
Five hours behind the UK.
International dialling code from the UK
120V/60Hz, 110V AC.
Banks are open to the general public from 8am-3pm, Monday to Friday; some of them until 6pm and on Saturdays, from 9am to noon.
Health — before you go
Typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended but speak to a GP for further advice before you travel.
Health — when you are there
Malaria exists in some parts of Panama, but not the main cities. Cases of dengue fever are increasing particularly, and not only, in rural areas. You are advised to cover up and use insect repellent.
Do not become involved with drugs of any kind orin any way. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to heavy terms of imprisonment. There is a risk of street crime, particularly in downtown areas, the old town (Casco Viejo) in Panama City, and in the old Panama ruins (Panama Viejo), the Madden Dam area and in Colon. Travel to the Darien province should be conducted only with an organised group and to protected tourist destinations.Contact the British Embassy in Panama City for details. You should not stray from the immediate vicinity of the protected resort areas. In addition, the border area with Colombia is particularly dangerous.
Fire 103; police 104.
Locals should be addressed as senor (Mr), senora (Mrs) or senorita (Miss), plus their surnames. Shake hands whenever possible — it's a sign of friendship and respect.
Animals will be quarantined on their return to the UK.
You can tip some small change, or around 10% of the bill in fancier restaurants but in small cafes and more casual places, tipping is not necessary.
Embassy of the Republic of Panama, 40 Hertford Street, London,
W1J 7SH. Tel 020 7493 4646/020 7409 2255 (consular section).