Why Did Panama City Become The Capital of Panama? 

Why Did Panama City Become The Capital of Panama? 
Why Did Panama City Become The Capital of Panama? 





Panama City is the capital city of Panama. With over 1,500,000 people in the Panama City metropolitan area, it is a bustling hotbed of activity. It is also in a unique position to access a variety of trade routes.

On this page, we are going to tell you everything that you need to know about the capital of Panama!

Where Is The Capital of Panama Located?

Where is the Capital of Panama Located?
Where is the Capital of Panama Located?

Panama City is located at the entrance to the Panama Canal (one of the main reasons why Panama City is so important to the region). This part of the country can be found roughly in the middle of the country, albeit slightly to the East. It is a little under 1,000km from nearby Colombia. 

Panama City is in an especially stunning place, surrounded by lush tropical rainforests (which help to keep the Panama Canal ticking over), and the Pacific Ocean.

Brief History of Panama City

Aerial view of the modern skyline of Panama City , Panama with modern Highrise buildings.
Aerial view of the modern skyline of Panama City , Panama with modern Highrise buildings.

The first Panama City (there have been two) first appeared in August 1519. As with many of the major settlements in this area, Panama City was founded by the Spanish. Their goal with the area is to use it as a staging post. They wanted to explore the rest of South America, and Panama City made a great place for them to launch all of their ventures.

This version of Panama City lasted for a little under 100-years. However, the Spanish had been storing a ton of gold and silver here. This made it a regular target of bandits. Turns out that in 1617, a major bandit invasion would bring the original Panama City to its knees. It was burned to the ground. While this part still exists, and it is a major tourist destination in the area, it is just ruins.

Undeterred by the loss of the city, the people in Panama (still mostly Spanish settlers) decided to rebuild the city. They built it roughly 5-miles from the old one. This came at just the right time, because the Americas was going through a bit of a boom.

Panama City is perhaps best known for the Panama Canal which runs straight through it. It is this canal that has been instrumental to the growth of the region. This is because it has allowed huge amounts of trade ships pass through the region, offering a ton of cash to the economy as they do. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that the Panama Canal actually benefited Panama. Up until that point, it was owned by the Americans who dished out a rather paltry sum of cash to the region. Although, now it is in full control of the government located in Panama City.

Nowadays, the economy of Panama City is bolstered by the financial and services sector, with a lot of cash flowing through the region. 

When Did Panama City Become The Capital of Panama? 

Old buildings in the old part of Panama City
Old buildings in the old part of Panama City

Panama City became the capital of Panama in 1903. 

Why Did Panama City Become The Capital of Panama? 

Up until the 19th Century, Panama was part of Colombia. It was not independent in the slightest, which caused a great deal of contention among the populace. 

On the 3rd of November 1903, Panama declared independence from Colombia. While there was still a long route ahead of them, most people agree that this is the true independence date for the country, even if the full split didn’t happen until much, much later.

Because independence was declared in Panama City, this was named as the capital. Although, since it was the most populated area in the place and a hotbed of trade activity, we have no doubt that it probably would have ended up as the capital of Panama no matter where independence was declared. 

Best Places To Visit in Panama City

There are a ton of places to visit throughout Panama City, and we want to share with you some of our highlights.

Panama Canal

Yes. It is just a canal, but it is unlike any canal that you have ever seen before. It is absolutely massive. It has to be. It is there to let huge trade ships pass through the region.

The real highlight of the Panama Canal, however, is just how well-kept the entire area is. Because the rainforest is exceedingly important to the running of the canal, it is probably one of the best-kept rainforests in the world, at least of those located in urban areas. There is a ton of wildlife in this region, and there are plenty of tours that will take you through and explore it.

Casco Viejo

This is the oldest part of the second iteration of Panama City, and it is absolutely beautiful. While the streets may feel a little bit more cramped in comparison to the more modern parts of the city, Casco Viejo is a stunning place that really showcases the Spanish architecture of the time.

Monkey Island

If you really want to see some of the best wildlife that Panama has to offer, then you really need to take a trip to Monkey Island. There are a variety of trips leaving every single day. As you can probably guess from the name, the main highlight of Monkey Island is being able to see the monkeys. However, there is a ton here and you can easily spend hours chilling in some incredibly relaxing scenery.

Metropolitan National Park

There is a huge rainforest right in the heart of the city, and it is truly wonderful. As we said before, Panama City goes to huge lengths to ensure that its rainforests are in great condition. It is simply amazing to have those massive skyscrapers surrounding the park. It provides a nice break from everything without having to actually leave the city.

Panamá Viejo

These are the ruins of the original Panama City, and they are well worth a trip if you want to see a truly fantastic place. You will be surprised at how good of a condition some of these ruins are in.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!