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Panama Culture and Arts

Man-Made Geography
Panama Culture and Arts
Panamanian culture is all about the mix. Colonial piles stand beside Frank Gehry megaprojects; native Emberá heritage merges with elements of African, Chinese, and U.S. culture. A vast world of cultural influence moves within tiny Panama.
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    Man-Made Geography
    Man-Made Geography
    Panama leaves no doubt about just how much humankind can change a nation’s destiny. Thanks to the people from around the world who arrived to construct its world-famous canal, Panama is one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the Western Hemisphere. The history of this engineering and strategic-commercial marvel is presented at the Canal Museum, as fascinating and fun as it is a necessary stop for anyone visiting the country for the first time.
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    Biodiversity and Culture
    Biodiversity and Culture
    It’s a sure bet Panama visitors arrive expecting gleaming towers and perfect beaches. But don’t lose sight of the country’s remarkable biodiversity, masterfully showcased at the Museum of Biodiversity, whose Frank Gehry–designed structure is equally remarkable. Visit a native community and take a guided tour through the tropical rain forest led by expert botanists from the Emberá Nation.
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    Panama’s Melting Pot
    Panama’s Melting Pot
    Whether it’s a visit to the Baha’i Temple, breakfasting on dim sum (as “real” Panamanians do), or poring over Africa-influenced chombo cookbooks (and desserts) at Cuquita Cookita, visitors quickly discover Panama’s truly international outlook.
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    Panamá for Shopping
    Panamá for Shopping
    To fit in among the Panamanians (and fill in suitcase gaps with treasures large and small), you’ve got to hit the stores. Local shops and markets (check out the craft market held in a building behind the YMCA in Balboa) carry the most authentic and local products like mola fabrics and, of course, panama hats. Mixed in with the discount shops on Avenida Central, some smaller outlets and stalls sell souvenirs worth seeking out. If you want to spend time shopping for international labels, or are in need of a little air-conditioning, head for the malls: Albrook Mall, Multiplaza Pacific, or Metromall.
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    Architecture: Literally a Bit of Everything
    Architecture: Literally a Bit of Everything
    Whether it’s historic elegance in the Casco Viejo or the colorful whimsy of Frank Gehry’s Museo de la Biodiversidad, Panama is home to every architectural style. Look beyond the hand-lettered signage and contemporary ground-floor facades along the Avenida Central to find stunning art deco wonders.
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    Ocean Forever
    Ocean Forever
    Almost anywhere you go during your days in Panama City, you’ll find constant clues that you’re near the sea. Checking out the just-caught bounty at the Cinta Costera Fish Market or browsing the stalls at Sabores del Chorrillo, of course, are tasty reminders of the surrounding waters, and you can honor the proximity of the sea with a walk along the Calzada de Amador promenade.