Colón, Panama

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Ciudad de Colón
Ciudad de Colon, Panama.jpg
Vista aerea de la Zona Libre de Colon.jpg
Estatua de Cristobal Colon - Flickr - jacf18.jpg
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Top to bottom, left to right: Aerial view of Colón, November 5 Park located at the Historic District of Colón, Colón Free Trade Zone, Statue of Christopher Columbus, and the Inmaculate Conception Cathedral.
Bandera de la Provincia de Colon.svg
Escudo de la Provincia de Colon.svg
Coat of arms
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Coordinates: 9°21′26″N79°53′55″W / 9.35722°N 79.89861°W / 9.35722; -79.89861 Coordinates: 9°21′26″N79°53′55″W / 9.35722°N 79.89861°W / 9.35722; -79.89861
Country Flag of Panama.svg  Panama
Province Colón Province
District Colón District
  President Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo
   Mayor Federico Policani
9 m (30 ft)
   City 78,000
Area code(s) +507
Climate Am

Colón (Spanish pronunciation:  [koˈlon] ) is a city and seaport in Panama, beside the Caribbean Sea, lying near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. It is the capital of Panama's Colón Province and has traditionally been known as Panama's second city. Originally it was located entirely on Manzanillo Island, surrounded by Limon Bay, Manzanillo Bay,and the Folks River; however, since the disestablishment of the Panama Canal Zone, the city's limits have been redefined to include Fort Gulick, a former U.S. Army base, as well the former Panama Canal Zone towns of Cristobal, Margarita,and Coco Solo.



The city was founded by the United States in 1850, as the Atlantic terminal of the Panama Railroad, then under construction to meet the demand during the California Gold Rush for a fast route to California. For a number of years early in its history, the sizable United States émigré community called the town Aspinwall after Panama Railroad promoter William Henry Aspinwall, while the city's Hispanic community called it Colón in honor of Christopher Columbus. The city was founded on the western end of a treacherously marshy islet known as Manzanillo Island. As part of the construction of the Panama Railroad, the island was connected to the Panamanian mainland by a causeway and part of the island was drained to allow the erection of permanent buildings.

Much of the city was destroyed in the Burning of Colón during the Colombian Civil War of 1885, and again during a massive fire in 1915. The Great Colon Fire of April 13–14, 1940 destroyed one third of the city. [1]

Fort De Lesseps

Fort De Lesseps was a small U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps fort located at the northern tip of the city. It was named after the canal developer Ferdinand de Lesseps.

From 1948 to 1989

Colon between 1910 and 1920 Street scene, Colon, Panama, ca. 1910-1920.png
Colón between 1910 and 1920

In 1948, the southeastern corner of Manzanillo Island was designated as the Colón Free Trade Zone. The Free Trade Zone has since been expanded through land reclamation on the Folks River and annexation of parts of France Field (now Enrique Adolfo Jiménez Airport) and Coco Solo.

During its heyday, Colón was home to dozens of nightclubs, cabarets, and movie theaters. It was known for its citizens' civic pride, orderly appearance, and outstanding native sons and daughters.[ citation needed ] Politically instigated riots in the 1960s destroyed the city's municipal palace and signaled the start of the city's decline, which was further accelerated by the military dictatorships of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega from 1968 to 1987.

Since late 2014

Colon Renovacion Urbana.jpg

A massive restoration and reconstruction project, involving parks, avenues and historic buildings and monuments, began in late 2014 [2] and uses the hashtags #RenovaciónColón, #CiudadDeColón, #RenovationColon (Renovation of Colón) and #CityOfColon. The First Baptist Church of Colón, Panama, is one of the buildings whose renovation has been completed.



The main setting of the novella "Latarnik" ("The Lighthouse Keeper", 1881) by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz is the lighthouse in Aspinwall.

Colón is also the setting of Argentine writer César Aira’s short 2002 novel Varamo.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez's The Secret History of Costaguana has many scenes set in late 19C and early 20C Colón.


Like most of the Caribbean coast of Central America, Colón possesses an extremely wet tropical climate owing to the powerful, wet trade winds flowing onto high mountains throughout the year. Unlike most parts of this coast, however, February and March are sufficiently dry that Colón fits into the tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am) category rather than a tropical rainforest climate (Af) as found in most Caribbean coastal areas. Nonetheless, the June-to-December period, with an average monthly rainfall of around 415 millimetres or 16.3 inches, is so wet that Colón rivals Honduras’ La Ceiba as the wettest sizable city in Central America.

Climate data for Colón
Average high °C (°F)29
Average low °C (°F)24
Average rainfall mm (inches)110
Source: Weatherbase [3]


Colón's population in 1900 was 3,001. It grew significantly with the building of the Panama Canal, becoming 31,203 by 1920. In 2000, the population was around 204,000.

With the city's economic decline, many of its upper and middle-class residents left, reducing its ethnic diversity. European and American expatriate communities, as well as Panamanians of Greek, Italian, Jewish, Chinese and South Asian heritage, started moving to Panama City, to former Canal Zone towns, and overseas.

Today, sizable South Asian and Arab communities live in the remaining prosperous areas of the city, as well as in gated communities outside it. The majority of the city's population is of West Indian or mixed mestizo-hispanic ancestry.

Colón was home to some of the best-educated and most well-heeled Panamanian families of West Indian heritage, such as the Drews, the Fords, the Moodys, the Robinsons, the Beebys, the Archibolds, the Edwards, the Crowns, the Hoys, the Warehams, the Abrahams, and the McKintoshs.[ citation needed ] From these families sprang the teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, and politicians that contributed to the city's prosperity.[ citation needed ] Most of them eventually left the city for the United States or the United Kingdom. Their influence may still be seen, however, in their descendants that remain in the province.

Colón was also home to Las Amigas de la Caridad ("Women of Charity"), a charitable organization of women of Caribbean descent. The organization met largely in the home of Gladys Booth Ford and her stepdaughter Ruby Ford Drew at Calle 7 and Avenida Sta. Isabel. Ruby Drew was a long-standing member of Christ Church by the Sea.


The city is served by Colon Airport.


Colón is home to Correcaminos Colon, 2016 Basketball Champion of Panama and member of the FIBA Americas League. The team plays its home games at the Arena Panamá Al Brown.

People from Colón

Arts, sciences, and politics


See also

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  1. "Colon City on Fire – 1940".
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-08-27. Retrieved 2015-08-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Colon, Panama". Weatherbase. 2011. Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
  4. Dobbs, Michael (2008-05-20). "The Fact Checker: John McCain's Birthplace". The Washington Post . Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  5. " MLB All-Century Team" . Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  6. "George Headley". espncricinfo. Retrieved 26 August 2012.

Further reading