Panama People & Culture

Panamanian Girl

Ethnically, the majority of the population is mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian) or mixed Spanish, Indian, Chinese, and West Indian. Chinese, Middle Eastern, Swiss, Yugoslav and North American immigrants have also added to this diverse cultural mix due to Panama's unique location and history as a crossroads of the world. The majority of the population lives in urban areas, with more than half the population living in the Panama City-Colon metropolitan corridor.

Kuna Leg Bracelet

The indigenous population of Panama comprises approximately 8 percent of the population and is composed of 7 distinct groups which are the Kuna, Embera, Waounan, Ngobe, Bugle, Nassau, and Terribe people. Each of the 9 Panama Provinces has a rich and varied folklore and cultural traditions which are expressed through its dances, cultural dress, music and cuisine. Traditional crafts include the colorful Mola, Tagua nut carvings, Wounaan and Embera woven baskets, balsa and cocobolo wood carvings, and pottery. The sale of native crafts to tourists has increased and helps to support the needs of the villages and native people.