Panama

Darien Province


Darien Bridge

Darien province is at the eastern end of Panama, sharing a border with the country of Colombia. This province is the largest in Panama. It is rugged, sparsely populated, and offers few amenities for tourists. It is covered by steep mountains, rivers, jungles and beautiful beaches. The largest rivers in this area the Tuira and the Chucunaque rivers. The capital of Darien, La Palma, is located where the Tuira River empties into the Bay of San Miguel. Darien Province is the last safe home for many endangered species and is considered one of the most complete tropical ecosystems that can be found in the Americas.

Darien is perhaps best known for its magnificent forests and the great diversity of flora and fauna that lives there. The Darien National Park makes up most of the southern end of the province, and covers almost 1.5 million acres. This area also includes what is known as The Darién Gap, which is a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest separating Panama and Colombia. The Pan American highway terminates in the town of Yaviza, and beyond here the only mode of transportation is by boat. This is where the only interruption in the Pan-American Highway is located.

The native population of the province of Darien is primarily made up of the Embera and Wounnan tribes. These peoples continue to live much as they did thousands of years ago. They engage mainly in sustainable agriculture, hunting, and fishing. Crafts produced in this area include beautiful woodcarvings and woven baskets.

**On April 6, 2006, the U.S. Department of State consular information sheet on Panama advised U.S. citizens not to travel to the Darien Province. The restricted area encompasses the Darien National Park as well as privately owned nature reserves and tourist resorts. While no incidents have occurred at these resorts, U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and Panamanian citizens have been the victims of violent crime, kidnapping and murder in this general area. There is also the absence of reliable communications and medical infrastructure in the region, which makes travel in this area potentially hazardous. Moreover, all around the Panama-Colombia border area the presence of Colombian terrorist groups, drug traffickers and other criminals is common, adding danger to travelers. In addition, the Center for Disease Control recommends anti-malarial medication if you are traveling to remote areas of the Darien Province.