Panama

Panama

Use Normal Level of Caution
Use High Level of Caution when visiting the following provinces: Darién and Emberá

Panama is located in Central America, between Colombia and Costa Rica, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The population is about 3.4 million, with about 1.3 million people living in Panama City. Although the official currency is the balboa, Panama uses the US dollar for paper currency.

Panama is a republic with a constitutional democracy. A president is chief of state and head of government.

The Panama Canal has influenced the history and economy of Panama. An expansion of the canal has begun and is scheduled to be completed in 2014. Since 2006, Panama has seen an economic boom and has been one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Despite the economy's performance, about one-third of the people of Panama live in poverty..

Currency PAB: Balboa
Language Spanish
Capital Panama City
Recent Alerts 4
Latest Alert June 27, 2017 - Chikungunya transmission in Central America

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Panama. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Panama through contaminated food or water. Infection can still occur at tourist destinations and resorts.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Panama.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Panama, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Yellow Fever

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in some areas of Panama. Panama requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers over 1 year of age arriving from Brazil, unless the traveller is transiting through Panama or has transited in an airport in Brazil. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age departing Panama and travelling to Brazil and to countries/territories (as published by WHO) that require the certificate of yellow fever vaccination as a condition for entry. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all travellers aged 9 months or over travelling to all mainland areas east of the area surrounding the Canal (the entire Comarcas of Emberá and Kuna Yala, the province of Darién and areas of the provinces of Colón and Panama that are east of the Canal). The yellow fever vaccination is not recommended for travellers whose itineraries are limited to areas west of the Canal, the city of Panama, the Canal area itself, and the Balboa Islands (Pearl Islands) and San Blas Islands.

Malaria

High risk areas include provinces along the Atlantic coast and the borders with Costa Rica and Colombia. These provinces include Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Colon, Darien, Kuna Yala, Ngabe Bugle, Panama, and Veraguas. There is no malaria risk in the urban areas of Panama City or in the former Canal Zone.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever outbreaks have occurred in Panama, especially during rainy months from May through December.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis occurs in Panama, particularly in the western or west-central areas. The risk of acquiring leishmaniasis is increased in travellers who spend time outdoors in rural areas and at night, when sand flies typically feed.

Chagas Disease

American trypanosomiasis occurs in Panama. This disease is more common in rural areas, however, the risk of travellers acquiring this disease is low unless staying in very poor quality housing or camping.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever has occurred in this country.

Hanta Virus

Sporadic cases of hanta virus infection occur in Los Santos Province and Herrera.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in this country. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis occurs in this country. Travellers to this country are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Zika Fever

There is transmission of the Zika virus in this country.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Panama.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in some areas of Panama. Panama requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers over 1 year of age arriving from Brazil, unless the traveller is transiting through Panama or has transited in an airport in Brazil. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age departing Panama and travelling to Brazil and to countries/territories (as published by WHO) that require the certificate of yellow fever vaccination as a condition for entry. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all travellers aged 9 months or over travelling to all mainland areas east of the area surrounding the Canal (the entire Comarcas of Emberá and Kuna Yala, the province of Darién and areas of the provinces of Colón and Panama that are east of the Canal). The yellow fever vaccination is not recommended for travellers whose itineraries are limited to areas west of the Canal, the city of Panama, the Canal area itself, and the Balboa Islands (Pearl Islands) and San Blas Islands.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Panama.

Anti-malarial Drugs

Provinces east of the Panama Canal: atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, meflaquine, or primaquine. Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca: atovaquone-proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine.

Safety and Security in Panama

Emergency Numbers

911
104

Personal Safety

Although most travellers do not have safety or security problems in Panama, however, there is a high level of criminal activity in this country. Remain alert to your surroundings and personal safety. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching is common, especially at bus terminals, airports, and on public transportation in Panama City and Colon. Keep valuables secured and out of sight. Safeguard your important documents, such as your passport. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Exercise caution when using automatic bank teller machines (ATMs). Avoid walking alone at night.

There have been reports of robberies in restaurants in areas in Panama City, such as Obarrio, San Francisco and El Cangrejo.

More serious crime, such as muggings and armed robbery, can occur throughout the country. Criminals using scams that gain the trust of the victim have targeted foreigners and then other gang members rob the victim. “Express kidnappings” have been reported, where victims are forced to withdraw money from an ATM and then are released.

The following areas tend to be high crime areas: El Chorrillo, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Cabo Verde, Curundu, Calidonia, Ancon, Veracruz Beach, Santa Librada, Rio Abajo, San Miguelito, Panama Viejo, Parque Soberania, Tocumen, and the Madden Dam Overlook in the Chagre National Park northeast of Panama City.

Use only registered yellow taxi companies, and insist that your driver does not pick up additional passengers.

Roads in Panama are generally good, but drivers may not follow rules of the road and auto accidents are frequent.

Areas To Avoid

Avoid travel to remote areas of Darién Province and the areas along the Colombian border from the end of the Pan American Highway (southeast of Panama City) to the Colombian border. This includes parts of Darién National Park and tourist resorts in this area. Use air travel to reach these tourist areas and do not leave the protected resort areas. These areas are dangerous due to the risk of armed robberies, kidnappings and murder.

Avoid the “Mosquito Coast” area along the north coast bounded by Boca de Rio Chiriquí on the west and Coclé Del Norte on the east and stretching inward from the coast for five kilometers. This area is dangerous due to drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

Political Unrest

Travellers should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, which sometimes occur in Panama City, as they can become violent with little warning.

Get A Free Account!

Sitata uses advanced software algorithms to monitor the world for disease outbreaks and safety hazards. Each travel alert published by Sitata is reviewed by staff to ensure it meets the concerns of a traveller.

Sign up for a free account so that you can prepare for your trip and view the latest alerts.

Plan A Trip