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Daryl Ries of Keller Williams Panama, associate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt building the Panama Canal, pictured – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAs an American in Panama I can say with authority that it is an advantage to be an American in Panama. Why? Because the US has a long history in Panama. The association is extremely historical and strong. After all, it was Teddy Roosevelt who actually founded Panama. We built the Panama Canal from the former French development of the Canal. But he did it along very scientific and very updated engineering plans; only the best. And Teddy Roosevelt made sure to master disease and engineering issues before the attempt and final success of the Canal were implemented by the Americans.
 
Therefore, the US not only created the country of Panama but we created a great international engine of the world, which made Panama a very powerful nation. Although there may be some political and economic issues between the US and Panama, all in all it’s a positive for Americans in Panama and continues to be and will continue to be, making for Panama an incredible future. Nothing is perfect, but the association with the USA has been a very strong backbone of Panama.
 
(Cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt building the Panama Canal, pictured.)
Ron Hunter of Finca Cazador – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAmericans in Panama are treated as they should be. If you are a jerk, then you are going to be treated as one, and if you’re not, then you are treated very well. Panama has a love-hate relationship with the United States. Panamanians love Americans, they try and emulate our culture, but they still haven’t gotten over the invasion when Noriega was taken out. 
 
It’s a dichotomy.  There’s a love-hate relationship that Panamanians have with the Americans that they don’t really have with anyone else, so it’s complicated. In general, we’re received very well. Panamanians are friendly and generous, but they have a national holiday to recognize the 3,000 people who were killed in what they call “The Invasion” when Noriega was extracted. It’s a complicated relationship, just as the Americans’ relationship with the Mexicans.
 
On a personal level, I am treated very well in Panama. For example, I’m having a good friend of mine who is the local congressman for our district here in Río Sereno over to my home for lunch. I wouldn’t be able to invite a congressman for lunch in the United States. I’m an easygoing guy- I’ll talk to anybody about anything, shake the hand of the Indian or my congressman going down the road here. 
 
I’m blind when it comes to classes. I don’t like the concept of class or color. We all bleed red. That’s well received with the lower classes because I’m a white guy with white hair and a big house, but I’m out there dirty around the front yard. 
 
Everywhere in the world, you get back what you put out in terms of interaction with people. If you come on high and snotty, people tend to treat you that way, too. 
 
As an example, about 15 years ago, I used to set up pensions in the United States. I brought down a client of mine to the county fair in David who was interested in buying an island off the coast of Boca Chica. County fairs are all the same with lots of greasy food, rides, music and people. The county fair in Phoenix is very similar with the county fair here in David.  
 
This client of mine stands at 6”2’ just like me. Everybody in Panama is a bit shorter than us. We were walking around the county fair and I told him, “You know, I really like this spirit. I like it better than the fair in Phoenix,” and he says, “Man, I don’t even go to the fair in Phoenix. I’m afraid.” 
 
You know he felt at ease walking around the fair in David. I told him, “Yes, you’re probably right. But I do go to the fair in Phoenix and there are a lot of police officers there because there are issues.” 
 
If you were at the county fair and you were a misfit and people didn’t like you, you will get a lot of very “in-your-face” type of stares. There will be people nudging you with your elbow and you’ll immediately feel that you’re not in the right place. 
 
Au contraire here in Panama.  When we were walking around, everybody was happy. It was crowded but nobody was nudging us. I’m sure you’ve been in a place in your life wherein you knew you shouldn’t be there. As two very obvious gringos in the county fair in David in Chiriquí Province, we were completely accepted with no issues whatsoever. I felt totally comfortable. 
 
There were probably issues but there was nothing obvious. Some people were probably thinking, “Why are they there?” I’m sure that it was there, although it wasn’t obvious, but we both felt comfortable.  
 
(Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno, pictured.)
Lorna Culnane – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Lorna Culnane visiting an indigeous village in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI recently wrote an article about this "Being Gringoed"... I am not American; I am British and I have been living in Panama for almost 3 years... 
 
Panama is incredibly diverse with people with many nationalities and religions living alongside each other.  Having said that, and to answer this question more specifically, although America has a long history in Panama, it has not always been good, and sadly Panamanians have not always been treated well by their visitors, so I have noticed mixed reactions to Gringo's!
 
(Lorna Culnane visiting with people at an indigenous village in Panama, pictured.)
 
 
 
 
Mike Vuytowecz of Inside Panama Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mike Vuytowecz at a business dinner in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingExpats, especially Americans, have a long history in Panama. Not all of that history is good, but for the most part, Panamanians are used to the American presence. We took the Panama Canal and ultimately gave it back to them, which was big for them. We removed whatever was repressing them and the country. So overall, we are viewed favorably and we did contribute in a significant way to their quality of life, and their economic situation. I have never felt uncomfortable or sensed any resentment towards either Americans, Europeans, or foreigners in general. Panamanians are very open, embracing, and accepting people.
 
In the United States, for instance, if you’re the smartest guy in the room, or if you have a better mousetrap, or perhaps you have a better price, you can make an instant impact in the business community. In Latin America, and in particular in Panama, business tends to be more relationship-driven, which a good news, bad news thing.
 
The bad news is the relationships need time to develop so there are no shortcuts, and you have to take the time to spend with people to develop the relationship. The good news is if you do that, they are receptive. You would be accepted and it’s a little harder for the next guy to come and knock you off because you have already developed the relationship. So overall, as an expat, you can be accepted, you can be embraced, but the most important thing is the relationship and you have to work hard and develop it. In the US, if you are smarter than everybody else or if you have a better product and a better price, there’s not as much loyalty as in Panama; in the US, it is easier to replace a vendor who has the business today.
 
(Pictured: Mike Vuytowecz at a business dinner in Panama.)
James David Audlin of Editores Volcán Barú – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
We must resist generalizing. People are individuals.
 
On the one hand, I know a few Panamanians to whom all foreigners, especially Americans, are horrible. I know a few other Panamanians who say foreigners are wonderful, especially Americans. And every shade in between these extremes.

On the other hand, I know a few expatriate Americans here who treat all Panamanians with distrust and disdain, who display bigoted attitudes toward them, who refuse to accept Panamanian culture for what it is and who cannot bother learning even basic Spanish. And I know a few other expatriate Americans who treat Panamanians with respect, who don't put on a look-down-the-nose superiority, and who at least try to speak a little Spanish. And every shade in between these extremes.

So we cannot generalize. Still, when reasonably decent people meet, in any country, of any  background, they will treat each other with courtesy and liking.

I constantly strongly urge expatriates here to treat Panamanians with respect. Don't tell them we do everything better in the United States. Don't talk big; don't flaunt your money and your foreign ways. Don't insist on speaking only English. I promise you if you treat your Panamanian neighbors (or any neighbors in any country including the United States) with respect and courtesy, you will be rewarded with friendliness. If you make the effort to speak at least a little Spanish, if you observe local customs (e.g., waving to strangers in your village; saying "Buenos dias" when you come in waiting rooms, tiendas, or onto a bus), if you remember people's names, if you are knowledgeable about Panamanian sports and news (watch the local TVN news or read one of the local papers, or, if your Spanish is limited, at least read "The Panama News" internet newspaper) - I promise you that most if not every Panamanian you get to know will be glad to know you!
Eddie Montes of Panama Property Rentals – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Canal Zone 1915, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingExpats are welcome in Panama. Expats are generally treated with respect and treated well. The US and Panama have a long lasting relationship due to the US military presence in the Panama Canal. I consider Panama to be one of the more Americanized countries in the Western Hemisphere.
 
Generally, there is no resentment towards Americans or expats here in Panama. There may be some people who carry some resentment but at the same time most of the citizens are very appreciative of what the US has done for the country of Panama related to the Panama Canal and many other things that they introduced to this country, including the fast food chains and many other things that are unique to the US.  
 
(Canal Zone 1915, Panama, pictured.)
Iván Eskildsen of Cubitá Group – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Bob Hope and Francis Langford entertaining Coco Solo hospital in the Panama Canal Zone – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe average Panamanian is very friendly towards foreigners and we are very used to Americans, as the Americans had military bases here for most of the 20th century. As a result, Panamanians are to a certain extent used to having Americans as part of the country, are used to having Americans around, and are very friendly towards them. 
 
There is no widespread resentment towards Americans with regard to the issues surrounding the handover of the Panama Canal to the Panamanians.  Thankfully, that's going fine.  Americans have made a very important contribution to Panama and most middle and Panamanians are very influenced by American culture.
 
Panamanians are very nice and warms towards foreigners, with no discrimination against them.
 
(Bob Hope and Francis Langford entertaining patients at Coco Solo hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, pictured.)
MANUEL GRANADOS  of MEDICAL SERVICE PANAMA, S.A. (MS PANAMA, S.A.) – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Traditional straw Panama Hat – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPanamanians really like Americans.
 
Our country has been bound to the United States for many years so we are used to Americans and we like them very much, so are they treated well. 
 
I have never seen any resentment towards Americans or other expats, and in my experiences with them as my customers, I haven't heard of any issues.
 
(Pictured: traditional Panama hat, although the Panama hat was invented in Ecuador.)
Linda Jensen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Children with turle on Los Isla Canas, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe have been here in Panama for just over two years and we find that the Panamanian people are friendly, helpful, considerate, and yes, they do have some different laws and attitudes than Americans, but I have found them to be lovely people and I like them a lot.
 
I do not see an overall distrust of Americans. To the contrary, I find them to be very congenial towards Americans.
 
(Children with a turtle on the island of Isla Cañas, pictured.)
Jennifer Moloney Jones of The Visitor – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
cabanas on Yandup Island, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingGenerally, expats are treated very well here in Panama. Americans are always referred to as “gringos,” which sometimes extends to anybody who is white in color. Generally, as an expat, you are just one of the people here. You might find that sometimes, you’ll get charged a little bit more in a cab, but if you say, “No, it is not $5; it is only $3.50,” the driver will say, “OK, it is $4.” Then you agree. You kind of barter for the cost of the cab ride. Other than that, you’ll get treated just like everybody else. You still have to queue and get the same services everybody else gets in restaurants.
 
The locals certainly appreciate it if you speak Spanish. That is a definite way of breaking the ice, especially in official areas such as when you are getting your driving license or your government documentation. If you know how to speak Spanish, you’ll go a long way.
 
( Cabanas over water on Yandup Island, Panama.)
Michael A. Martinez of B & B Real Estate Nicaragua / Panama Real Estate Information – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Azuero penisula, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhat I was taught by my high school teacher is that attitude is everything. If you have a good attitude, you are going to be treated exactly the same way as you treat other people.
 
This is exactly the way it is in Panama.  The local Panamanians will have a good attitude towards you and will be willing to help you, especially since you might not be too adjusted yet with the language or the customs. Panamanians will bend over backwards as long as you show them your positive attitude.
 
Panama is not America, so things are not as we do them there in the US. You are in Panama, and if you come to understand that, you will be received well. The attitude of the Panamanians are just that they are happy to know you. They are happy to have friends from the north and from the rest of the world.
 
(Western Azuero Peninsula, Panama, pictured.)
Robert Adams of Retirement Wave – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There’s absolutely no resentment of Americans by the people of Panama.  Americans have been in Panama for a hundred years and so have other nationalities. Nobody cares.  They are not impressed by the fact that you are American and they are not upset by the fact that you are American. Most people are quite friendly toward Americans and have fond memories of Americans.
 
It’s who you are, how you treat people and how you are that you’re going to be judged on. If you’re friendly and polite, smile and do your best, no one’s going to give you any trouble at all.
 
I’ve never heard any serious problems because somebody’s American. Panamanians are much more intelligent and far more polite and reasonable to allow that to happen. I’m sure you could find somebody somewhere who does not like us but I have never in my life been insulted once in my 11 years here because I’m an American. If there is an effect at all, it’s been positive. 
Antonio Cheng – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Expats in Panama are treated well by locals. The expats’ presence here in Panama means that they are invested and they are spending their money here, which is a good thing for Panamanians. Expats here in Panama or people who plan to come and live here in Panama, should not worry about people not liking them, but they have to learn the Spanish language, because they have to understand that not everybody in Panama knows how to speak English. Panamanians see with good eyes if expats are trying to learn Spanish and are trying to learn the Panamanian culture.
Lucia Haines of Panama Realtor Inc. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Foreigners like Americans or other expats are an integral part of Panama and are pretty widely accepted. Panama has always been such a melting pot. Looking back at its history, Panama had Spanish explorers and Scottish colonies; it has always been such a mix.
 
As I see it, Panama has always had such a huge influx of foreigners, and foreigners have always played an important role in Panama. Thinking about Panama, you have areas where, like in the Free Trade Zones, you have Jews and Arabs doing business, and they seem to get along just fine. Racism and political correctness isn’t such an issue here like it seems to be in other places; you kind of are what you are. 
David Whittington of Tucan Golf Club and Resort – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
From my personal experience as an expat Canadian living in Panama, I can say that I have been treated very well in Panama, and so has my wife.
 
Especially in Panama City, they’re used to the American presence here.  Of course, the Americans built and operated the Canal until recently.  When the Canal changed hands, the Panamanian economy lost a lot of revenue.  In order to entice the Americans and others to come back, the Panamanian government instituted many programs, like the pensionado program.
 
Not only is the government happy to have American and other expats in Panama, but so are the Panamanian people.
 
I’ve never had any problem with the Panamanians except that I’ve seen drivers being angry, but that happens to everyone, regardless of where you’re from.  Also, my wife has had some issues with people who play slow on the golf course, but that also happens everywhere.
 
Of course, I assume there are Panamanians who don’t like Gringos, but I haven’t experienced it.  I’ve been treated quite well.  So many local Panamanians know us from our involvement with golf in Boquete and here at Tucan, that many, many  times, we’ll have people we met so informally and quickly that we have trouble remembering where we met come up to us and say hello to us.  Everone has been very friendly.
Judith Tovar of Easy Travel Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Americans and Expats are treated very nicely in Panama.  We have NO ill feeling for foreigners here at all.  The opposite...we welcome everybody that comes to Panama.
 
Panamanians in general...we are very proud.  So what we do not like is people who come to Panama and complain about how things are done here.  Remember each country has its own culture and ways to do things...so don`t expect to get things done in Panama like you usually get them done in your country.
 
Just come to Panama and adjust to our style of life..and I promise you will love to live here!
 
Judith Tovar of Easy Travel Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I am a native Panamanian and I truly believe that both Americans and expats are treated very well in Panama.  Once you get here you will see that in general Panamanian people are very friendly and will try to make you feel at home.
 
Just don`t come to Panama expecting things to be the same as they are back home...because every country has its culture..and we don`t like people to come to Panama and talk badly about the way we do things.
 
If you are friendly..and very open to trying to adjust to the way Panamanians live you will love living in Panama!
 

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