For people from many countries of the world, Panama is, or should be, their “Plan B”.
Panama geographically has always been at the crossroads of the Americas, and, due to the Panama Canal and shipping patters in a global economy, increasingly is at the crossroads of the world.
The Great Liberator of Latin America, Simon Bolivar, said that if ever the world had a capital it would be Panama.
Panama has always been a multi-cultural and multi-national community.
The Spanish came, settled, and many of the country’s oldest families trace their heritage back to the Spanish conquistadores.
The Chinese first came over 150 years ago to build the Panama Railroad. Today there is a huge Chinese community and most of the mini-super corner stores and hardware stores are Chinese owned and run. Probably as many people in Panama speak Mandrian as speak English.
The French came and although De Lesseps failed miserably in his attempt to build the Canal, the old French architecture is still evident in Casco Viejo and Colon and today’s Frenchmen still flock to enjoy the Azuero Peninsula.
Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in Spain and Colombia came and took advantage of Panama’s central location for trade. There is still a vibrant Jewish community in Panama City.
The Americans came to support and maintain Panama’s independence from Colombia, to build the Panama Canal, and occupy the Canal Zone for 75 years. Hundreds of US citizens who worked for the US Canal or were stationed in Panama with the US military fell in love with Panama and when it came time to retire, quickly moved back to Paradise. And today North Americans from the US and Canada are flocking to adopt an expat lifestyle in Panama.
To build the Canal folks came by the boatloads from the Caribbean, especially Barbados, and stayed. Today’s Latino Panamanian is a wonderful mix of old Spanish, Indigenous and West Indian heritage.
Workers came from Greece and Italy, and from Europe. There is a big Scottish contingent in Panama City which still celebrates their Scottish heritage in kilts and with bagpipes. One of the first settlers in Boquete was an English sea captain who fell in love with an Indigenous woman, jumped ship, and moved to Chiriqui, and would go by ox cart to David for provisions, a journey which took three days each way. So today in Boquete you have very Panamanian folks with last names like Watson and Colins. Greeks came to work on the Canal and just stayed. Italians, Germans and Swiss were fascinated by the rich volcanic soil and were some of the first settler farmers in Chriqui.
Surrounded by a world increasingly dominated by radicalism, terrorism, and growing government control, folks from many nations have viewed Panama as a “safe haven” to which to escape. Panama is a neutral country, without an army, yet a democracy for 25 years since the dictatorship, and a country which uses the US dollar, still looked upon as one of the world’s most secure currencies. Since the Turnover of the Canal, Panama has leveraged the Canal and it’s central strategic position geographically to create a strong and even booming economy.
Many Canadians have come to escape governmental intrusion and, surprisingly to me, many families from Canada with young children who want to escape the educational system. Folks from the US have come to escape big government nosing into every area of life and clawing at everyone’s money and net worth. Many came to escape the Bush-Cheney era, and as many now come to escape Obama. Both groups shaking their heads at what is being done to their “Homeland.” Folks from Venezula have been escaping a leftist government getting money, families, and entire companies out of Venezuela and starting anew in Panama.
Chinese, flush with prosperity but uncertain about which way their government will move next, see establishing a presence in Panama as a safe and convenient backup plan. Folks from the United Kingdom, tired of being taxed to death, are seeing a way out. Germans, Italians, Spaniards, and Greeks, all concerned about the future of the European Union and the future value of their Euros are looking for a “Plan B” backup.
Folks who in the past may have been fleeing to a US America, are now fleeing to a tiny, peaceful, democratic nation with a booming economy in Central America, a neutral country without an army or a dozen “wars” on this or that, a nation that has always been multi-racial, multi-cultural and where Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, Jews, and Athiests can all live and work together and enjoy an ecological paradise. They’re coming to Panama.
John Le Carré, in The Tailor of Panama, wrote, “We have everything God needed to make paradise. Great farming, beaches, mountains, wildlife you wouldn’t believe, people so beautiful you could cry.”
BUT, before you jump, you need to do your homework, and a great place to start is with my book THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE: OUR EXPERIENCE LIVING & RETIRING IN PANAMA. “Richard tells it like it is” – the straight scoop. You can also gain a whole lot by taking advantage of all the valuable information right here! It’s free! No salesman will call! You can even subscribe [over on the right sidebar “Follow This Blog”] without getting tons of email spam! Such a deal!