As the capital and largest city in Panama, Panama City is home to over 1.6 million people in 2014. Situated at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, it has historically been an important city for trade, shipping and export, but now has a thriving business and services economy.
The inhabitants of the city, known locally as capitalinos, are mainly Panamanian, Afro-Panamanian, or Mestizo, but due to its strong economy there is also a growing number of expatriates living in Panama City, as well as some Asian communities.
The official language of Panama is Spanish, but many people in Panama City also speak English as a second language, due to the large number of international businesses in the city.
Living in Panama City means adjusting to a seasonal tropical climate. There are only two seasons in each year: a wet season and a dry season.
The wet season, which runs from May to December, peaks in October, where average monthly rainfall of 330 mm is not uncommon. The dry season runs from January to April, and can be very humid.
Temperatures are consistent all year round, with an average of around 27 °C. However, as Panama City is in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, it is very prone to cloud cover, and so has less sunshine than other cities in Panama and Central America.
Expatriates moving to Panama City need to apply for a visa. Obtaining a visa for Panama can be difficult, but there are a number of different avenues you can take.
One of the most popular is to apply for a visa on the Reforestation Program, which requires an investment of at least 40,000 USD. In doing so you and your family will be granted a five year residency permit to live in Panama City, after which you can apply for citizenship.
Expatriates wishing to start their own business can apply for an Investor visa or a Small Business Investor visa, which are granted for one year but can be renewed. You can also apply for a Person of Means visa, for which you need to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself until you find work.
You can also apply for a visa alongside your work permit application if moving to Panama City for a particular job. Applications are made through your embassy or consulate and can take up to six months to complete.