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Colon, Panama

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Colon is one of the most important ports of the Caribbean. Founded in 1850 by Americans who were working in the construction of the Panama Railroad, its name was originally “Aspinwall”, after one of these builders. The name “Colon” was given by the Hispanic community in honor of “Cristobal Colon”, which means Christopher Columbus in Spanish. In 1953 it was made a free trade zone and nowadays it is the world’s second largest duty-free port, connected to Panama City by air, road, rail and the Panama Canal. Colon is also the main city of the homonymous province, which includes many destinations like Portobelo and its national park, Isla Grande and part of the Chagres National Park, shared with the close Panama province.

Historic ruins in Colon

The Chagres National Park, which includes a territory of over 129.000 hectares, is located on the eastern side of the Panama Canal. This conservation area hosts a bird sanctuary for more than 560 species, including the harpy eagle, and provides home to threatened mammals species such as jaguars, anteaters and mantled howler monkeys. The importance of this park is due to the fact that it covers the main hydrographic region of the country, producing more than 40% of the water needed to fill the canal, and it supplies all the drinking water for Panama City and Colon. Deforestation and the urban and industrial development of the near cities represents a threat to this area, and could also have an impact on the Panama Canal’s operations. That is why several conservation groups are fighting to protect the park and to extend it to the Santa Rita Ridge, an important shelter of biodiversity which is still unprotected. Popular activities in the Chagres National Park are camping, bird watching, sport fishing and rafting.


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