Colón, the Second City in the Republic of Panamá
Colón was named after Christopher Columbus. It is a seaport, located on the north side of Panamá, surrounded by the Atlantic (Caribbean Ocean). In the early years, around 1950, Colón attracted workers of the new railroad construction, and many families, mainly from England and the Caribbean settled here, making it one of the most important cities in the region at that time, especially for trade and commerce.
Many influential families made a great contribution to Colón where, even today, we can see their heritage. Many well-educated people from Colón made history and were great politicians, educators, doctors, and engineers who contributed to the city’s prosperity.
In the present, Colón is very important, due to it being the home of the second largest Free Zone in the world and one of the main ports in the area, Manzanillo, is constantly expanding to become a great commerce and tourism center.
One of the towns near to Colón, Portobello, is very well known since the Colonial times, for the enormous importance it had as transit point for merchandise and gold between South America and Spain. Until today, Portobello remains as one of the most charismatic towns, full of history, including the "Congo", its best known folkloric dance.
Portobello is home of one of the great Spaniard forts, the "Fuerte San Lorenzo". Unfortunately it is a little abandoned, but will soon be cleaned and repaired, as one of the areas historical monuments.
In Portobello, you can see, as well, the colonial church, the antique custom house. You may also want to enjoy a nice lobster by the sea, because beautiful beaches surround Portobello. Very close by, there is a resort and residential community, as well as "Isla Grande", a beautiful place to spend a vacation. There is also "Sir Francis Drake Pirate Island", a unique private place, where history says his ship was sunk.
At the present time, the city of Colón looks like abandoned, and not clean. But last night, the new president announced a new mega project in the amount of US $500 million to re-construct Colón, give it a new "look", make it safe and restore its beauty.
There are some very nice modern neighborhoods at few minutes from downtown Colón, where executives from the Free Zone live.
Colón has extraordinary importance at the present time as one of the best commercial centers for investment.
Colón is also a nice cruise line HUB, where thousands and thousands of visitors arrive in season (May through October) and enjoy different tours in Panamá, from the Panamá Canal to bird watching, to outdoor adventures, to shopping (because Panamá is a wonderful low cost shopping center)
Visitors to Panamá are always protected by a 30 days medical insurance, courtesy of the Tourism Authority. Ask for your brochure at the airport on arrival.
[Editor’s note: According to a press release August 1, 2014, the Panama Authority of Tourism stated that no charge tourist insurance coverage is no longer being offered.]