P A N A M A

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Panama City

Unflinchingly urban, the capital rides the rails of chaos, with traffic jams, wayward taxis and casinos stacked between chic clubs and construction sites. A center of international banking and trade, it has a sultry skyline of shimmering glass and steel towers that is reminiscent of Miami. In contrast, the colonial peninsula of Casco Viejo has become a hip neighborhood where cobblestones link boutique hotels with rooftop bars and crumbled ruins with pirate lore. Escape is never far away. Day-trip to sandy beaches (Pacific or Caribbean), admire the canal, or explore lush rainforests of howler monkeys, toucans and sloths.

Canal de Panama

The canal has three sets of double locks: Miraflores and Pedro Miguel on the Pacific side and Gatún on the Atlantic. A 10-year expansion completed in 2016 added two three-chambered locks, allowing the passage of super-sized 'neoPanamax’ ships: Cocoli on the Pacific and Agua Clara on the Atlantic. Between the locks, ships pass through a huge artificial lake, Lago Gatún, created by the Gatún Dam across the Río Chagres, and the Culebra Cut, a 12.7km trough through the mountains. With each ship's passage, a staggering 197 million liters of fresh water are released into the ocean.

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