colorful Panamanian culture owes to myriad influences with the
passage of time. Panamanian culture embraced the colonial era
settlements, the native Indian people and not to mention the
multi-race communities of the present times. The Spanish influence
was inevitable as they ruled Panama for over 300 years. As a
result, European artistic, literary and musical traditions found
place in the Panamanian culture. North American culture came
to the front in the Panama Canal region as well.
The means of living of the people of Panama is nothing but
an extension of the co-existence of the scores of influences
in Panamanian culture. You will find that people inhabiting
the urban areas, predominantly the Panama Canal area (where
the US army was based in the days when the construction work
of the Canal was under progress), lead polished, sophisticated
lives. Be it in the field of art, architecture, music or sports,
the cities represent a contemporary society where the US influence
is much-too apparent.
What’s more, the Panama countryside with its cattle
ranches and horses and Spanish folk songs, carries on to be
the stronghold of Hispanic culture. The native people of Panama
restricted in the small land pockets here and there also continue
to contribute immensely to Panamanian culture. Thus, the netted
bags and beaded necklaces made by the Guaymí people
and the brightly embroidered textiles called Molas (made by
Kuna women) have brought Panama’s artwork and handicrafts
worldwide recognition. The epic poems (extending to some hundreds
or thousands of lines) of the Kuna people focus another feature
of the Panamanian culture.
Dance and music also feature in the diverse Panama customs
to say it all. Hence, the traditional dance Tamborito introduced
by the Spanish invaders borrows steps and rhythms from native
dance forms. The influence of Afro-Caribbean music and that
of other popular local music like salsas cannot be missed.
Though Spanish is the preferred language for compositions,
the themes, plots and even characters have their roots steeped
in the colorful Panamanian culture. The religion of Panama
also has it’s own share of influence.
Panamanian culture is revealed in the ways of life of the
Panamanians, their music, their dance, their festivities,
their literature and even in their cuisine. The many festivities
held year-round in Panama like the Carnaval or carnival, Festival
of the Black Christ, Fair of Azuero, Semana Santa (or Easter
Week), too uphold the land’s cultural diversity. Most
of the festivals are excellent blending of Pagan and Catholic
beliefs and rituals.
Panamanian culture is varied on all fronts much to its myriad
influences. And this unity in diversity is Panama’s
forte. If you visit the museums and the historical places
in Panama you will know the warmth of the Panamanian culture.
The diversity has brought about so much - from varied cuisines
to gorgeous festivities and the list goes on.
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