Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Panama City (Spanish: Ciudad de Panamá) is the capital and largest city and conurbation of the Republic of Panama as well as the Panamá Province. It has a population of 708,738, with a total metro population of 1,063,000, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, at 8°58′N, 79°32′W. Panama City is the political, administrative and cultural center of the country. Juan Carlos Navarro is the current mayor of the city.
Recently, Panama City has become one of the most important financial and touristic centers in the Americas, with more than 104 banks, and has become a hub for high-rise buildings (eight of the ten tallest skyscrapers in Latin America), commerce and industrialization. The city enjoys five large multilevel malls and many five-star hotels. Panama City was chosen to be the American Capital of Culture for the year 2003 (jointly, with Curitiba, Brazil).

The city has numerous tourist attractions including world-class hotels and restaurants. Particularly interesting for tourists are various sites located in the old quarter (also commonly referred to as "Casco Viejo", "Casco Antiguo" or "San Felipe"), including
Further southwest one can climb Ancon Hill and get an overview of the city (see photograph at the end of the article) with the well-known Bridge of the Americas spanning over the Panama Canal. There is only one other bridge over the Panama Canal, the Centennial Bridge, which was completed in 2003 and is now becoming an attraction.
Recently relocated to the entrance of Curundu Heights in the former Panama Canal Zone is the Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz (Reina Torres de Arauz Anthropological Museum) — better known by its Spanish acronym MARTA — with precious metal artifacts from pre-Columbian Panama.
The area immediately east of the Pacific entrance of the canal--known as the Amador Causeway literally The Vaults, a waterfront promenade jutting out into the Pacific;
The National Institute of Culture Building and across from it, the French Embassy;
The Cathedral on Plaza de la Catedral;
Teatro Nacional, a recently renovated performance center, with outstanding natural acoustics; It provides an intimate performance environment and seating for about 800 guests.
Museo del Canal Interoceánico (Interoceanic Canal Museum);
Numerous restaurants located near the French embassy.
Palacio de las Garzas (Heron's Palace), the official name of the presidential palace. There are real herons in the compound. Panama City Panama City as a tourist destination
The belltower of the St. John Bosco Basilica.
View from the university grounds.
In Casco Viejo.
A Casco Viejo street paralleling the water, near to the Hospedaje Casco Viejo.
A view of the high rise of modern Panamá City, across the Bahía de Panamá, from the old harbour near the Mercado Publico in San Felipe (Casco Viejo).
Causeway connecting Naos, Perico and Flamengo Islands to the mainland. A bicycle path parallels the roadway.
Panama City at dusk as seen from the Bay of Panama.
Large Church near the central square in Casco Viejo, Panama City
The entrance to the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean, the Bridge of the Americas at night.
Panama City seen from Isla Flamenco, an island linked to the city by Amador Causeway, a link made with rocks excavated from the Canal. The island is used as a boasts many posh restaurants, pubs, dance clubs and a marina.
Panama City's skyline seen from Corredor Sur, a toll highway that links the city with Tocumen International Airport.
Plaza de Francia in Casco Vijeo. A monument erected in the Plaza of France in honor of the workers and French engineers that participated in the construction of the channel.

Due to many years of growth without any planning, Panama City is facing several urban problems. With the new Skyscrapers population density is growing far beyond expected, neighborhoods like El Cangrejo and El Carmen, designed for a density of 10 000/km² are now reaching a 35 000/km² density. The city's downtown streets are overcrowded with cars, creating many traffic problems for commuters. The old pipe system of Panama City isn't getting enough maintenance and is causing several water pollution-related problems. This is because Panama City is limited in the south by the Pacific Ocean, in the north by the protected lands of the Metropolitan Park and other parks of the Panama Canal Basin, and in the west by the Panama Canal itself with more protected land areas beyond it. Subsequently Panama City has expanded towards east and northeast.

Urban planning problems
Panama City's international airport, Tocumen International Airport, located on the eastern outskirts of the city, is easily accessible. There are direct flights between Tocumen and New York, Newark, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, Madrid and all major cities in the Caribbean area, Central America and South America. Panama City also has a regional airport Marcos A. Gelabert, located in an area once occupied by Albrook Air Force Base. Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for regional flights within Panama and the Pearl Islands in the Pacific.
Panama City has an extensive and efficient, yet confusing to tourists, form of public transportation consisting of colorful painted buses colloquially known as diablo rojo. A diablo rojo is usually "customized" or painted with bright colors, usually depicting famous actors, politicians or singers. It is now popular all over the city (and also in neighboring towns) for bus drivers to personally customize the interior and exterior of their diablo rojo. There is also a bus terminal near the Marcos A. Gelabert airport which together with the airport serves as the main transport hub for the rest of the country.
Panama City is in the process of implementing a more modern bus system (bus rapid transit) that will roughly cost US$100 million. Construction works (additional bus lanes, bus stops) are now progressing and should be completed in the first quarter of 2009 according to "La Prensa" newspaper.

Panama City has numerous daily newspapers, most with an online presence:
The English language newspaper The Star & Herald suspended publication in 1987. It had started publication as The Panama Herald in 1851. For news in English and commentary about politics, economics and society in Panama see the online publication The Panama News.

Mi Diario
La Prensa
El Panamá América
La Estrella de Panamá Sports

List of cities in Panama

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