Panama is home to the famous Panama Canal that was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. Connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean, it is considered a modern world wonder. About 40 ships a day use the canal. The trip takes eight to 10 hours. Before the canal was built, it would take a ship two weeks to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Christopher Columbus visited Panama in 1502 and Balboa, who discovered the Pacific Ocean, also explored the country. Panama is about the same size as the state of South Carolina.
About 4 million people live in Panama and 85 percent of them are Catholic. The catechism is taught in public schools and many Catholic holy days are national holidays.
Spanish is the official language there, but many also speak English.
More than 40 percent of the country is covered by jungle or tropical rain forest. It is home to about 10,000 different plants – some found nowhere else in the world but Panama. It is also home to almost 1,000 different species of birds, including the Volcano Hummingbird, which is smaller than three-inches long, and the Harpy Eagle, which can grow to more than three-feet long and is the national bird of Panama.
Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its currency. The country uses its own coins, which have the same value as our coins, but uses the same paper money as the United States.
The major crops grown in Panama are coffee, sugar, rice, corn, nuts, bananas, pineapples and watermelon. They export these all over the world. In addition, it also exports, gold, steel and iron.
The most popular sport in Panama is not soccer, but baseball.
Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic – from the same spot. It is also the only place in the world where you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean in the same day. That is because at Panama’s narrowest point, there is only 50 miles between the two oceans.
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