ABOUT PANAMACulture

THE INTERNATIONAL ISTHMUS

Panama owns a cultural diversity that makes it unique in the region. One of the biggest contributors to the richness of its culture is the constant presence of visitors from all parts of the world. The origin of this singular cultural mix is, without a doubt, the “crossroads” nature of the country. In addition, the intense connection Panama has with the sea makes it very similar to an island in the Caribbean.

As a point of contact and a crossing site, this small strip of land is considered a true melting pot of races. With over 3 and a half million inhabitants, its population is composed of 67% mestizos (Amerindian and European) and mulatos (white and black), 14% blacks, 10% whites, 6% Amerindian (indigenous people) and 3% from varied ethnic origins. This mixture is particularly rich because, although it comes from a wide array of cultural origins and very diverse traditions, it has been stimulated by the atmosphere of tolerance and harmony that has always reigned in the territory.

Although freedom of religion is respected, most of the population is Catholic and this religion is deeply bound to the traditions and cultural expressions of the country. In the interior of the country, for example, the greatest celebrations are related to several saints.

One of these celebrations relating to cultural and catholic beliefs is the Carnivals of Panama. The Carnivals are a country-wide celebration during the four days preceding the Lent.

La Pollera is the name used in Latin America and Spain for a type of skirt and dress that is known for its elaborate decorations. The skirts are made of different materials, such as cotton or wool, and are often colorfully decorated using various techniques, among which embroidery and lacing with floral designs are commonly employed.

It is believed that the pollera skirt is derived from a Spanish dress from the 16th or 17th century. It was passed down to women in the middle and lower classes as a simpler and easier version in which to carry out their daily chores or attend their regional celebrations. In many Latin American countries it is currently used as a folk costume. While in some countries the name refers to just the skirt part, in Panama the entire dress is called a pollera.