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    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

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    These Caribbean islands mix Indian, African, and European cultures alongside beautiful beaches. Go Now!

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    Many people fear the unknowns of Cuba, but the history, culture, food, and impressive beaches lure many visitors every year. Explore Cuba!

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    Panama is best known for the Panama Canal, but the beaches draw tourists, as does Panama City (pictured), a modern capital quite different from most nearby cities. Explore Panama

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Culture & Identity of Panama

Introduction

Panamanian Culture - Colorful bus
Bus

Panama today is ever changing and the progress over the past century has been astounding. Partially due to the Panama Canal, the country has progressively grown into a trade center and today Panama City is a truly a growing financial city.

As a result of economic progress, the country has also urbanized to a great degree. Today about three-quarters of the population lives in urban centers and for much of the working population in Panama jobs are found in the services sector; this is especially true in the cities. Many of these jobs have regular working hours, giving many people structure to their work day and week.

However, in more rural areas many people have jobs in agriculture, which has less structure. For these farmers, much of their lifestyle is based on work, which is only done when the sun, seasons, and weather allow it. Some times of year life on the farms is slower while at others the whole family is needed to assist.

Another item that contributes greatly to the differentiation of lifestyle comes in the form of religion. Many Panamanians are devout Catholics and this helps direct the way of life for many. Sundays are occupied with attending mass, after which many people gather with family or the church community. Again, for others religion only plays a minor role in their way of life. For these people and others free time is also spent playing sports, attending social clubs, or just spending time with family or friends.

Clearly there is no ordinary lifestyle for the Panamanians. There seems to be a great divide in occupation, working hours, and lifestyle from the urbanites to the rural dwellers, but even in these settings there is variety.

Identity

The people of Panama tend to identify in a few different ways, based primarily on who they are speaking with. To foreigners the people tend to call themselves "Panamenos" which is an identity tied to the nation and is almost solely defined by a person's status as a native of, and citizen of Panama, although the Spanish language is also closely tied to this definition. To each other, the people of Panama tend to identify by either the region they are from or their indigenous roots. This second definition is wholly based on ethnic (and sometimes also linguistic) affiliation and ties the people to their historic roots and past. These roots tend to be tied to local dress, languages, and traditions.

Unlike many Central American countries, the people of Panama rarely identify as being "Hispanic" or "Latin American," but some people do. People who identify as Hispanic (in the Americas) are generally a mix of Spanish and Native American ancestry who speak Spanish.

This page was last updated: May, 2014