Transport in Panama

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Transport in Panama is fairly well developed. The majority of the trips are done by car while a great part is done in public transport. The public transportation system is in need of modernization and other improvements.



mules for the ship handling tracks along the Panama Canal locks 08-130 ESCLUSAS DE MIRAFLORES - Flickr - Anelita PunkRock (1).jpg
mules for the ship handling tracks along the Panama Canal locks

There are 76 km of railway track in Panama, as follows:

The first metro line in Panama City was opened in 2014 and the second line in 2019. The metro lines are standard gauge with 1500 V DC overhead electrification.

Road system

Panama has well developed highways by Central American standards, with four expressways, all of which are privately owned and require toll payment:

Furthermore, the Pan-American highway, has been upgraded to a 4-lane, dual carriageway highway from Panama City to Santiago de Veraguas, counting for 248 km of freeway. Also, a small section of the Pan-American highway from Tocumen to Pacora, counting for 18 km has been upgraded to freeway. The same accounts for the Pan-American stretch between David and Capacho, on the border with Costa Rica, adding 55 km of freeway, and for the newly built freeway between David and Bajo Boquete, that extends for 38 km, and for the Chitré - Las Tablas freeway that extends for 30 km.

Panama's roads, traffic and transportation systems are generally safe, but non-functioning traffic lights are not uncommon. Driving is often hazardous and demanding due to dense traffic, undisciplined driving habits, poorly maintained streets, and a lack of effective signs and traffic signals. On roads where poor lighting and driving conditions prevail, night driving is difficult. Night driving is particularly hazardous on the old Panama City – Colon highway. [2]

Buses and taxis are not always maintained in a safe operating condition due to lack of regulatory enforcement. Since 2007, auto insurance has been mandatory in Panama. [3] Traffic in Panama moves on the right, and Panamanian law requires that drivers and passengers wear seat belts, but airbags are not mandatory. [2]

Flooding during the April to December rainy season occasionally makes city streets unusable for most vehicles and washes out some roads in rural areas. In addition, rural areas are often poorly maintained and lack illumination at night. Such roads are generally less traveled and the availability of emergency roadside assistance is very limited. Road travel is more dangerous during the rainy season and in the interior from Carnival through Good Friday. Carnival starts the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday and goes on for four days. [2]


Mules maneuvering a ship through the Miraflores locks in the Panama Canal. Exclusa Miraflores Canal de Panama Panorama.jpg
Mules maneuvering a ship through the Miraflores locks in the Panama Canal.

There are 800 km of waterways navigable by shallow draft vessels. The Panama Canal is 82 km long.


The crude oil pipeline is 130 km long.

Ports and harbors

Atlantic Ocean

Pacific Ocean


Merchant marine

Panama has an extensive international ship register, comprising 5,005 ships of 1,000  gross tonnage  (GT) or over, totaling 122,960,929  GT/183,615,337 tonnes deadweight (DWT). Most of the registered ships are foreign owned, with Panama being a flag of convenience.

As at June 2005, ships by type were estimated as:

The flag of convenience registry includes ships from 71 countries among which are (2005 update):

Foreign Owned Ships: 4,388

  • Andorra 1
  • Argentina 9
  • Australia 3
  • Bahamas 1
  • Belgium 14
  • Brazil 1
  • Canada 1
  • Chile 14
  • China 310
  • Colombia 5
  • Croatia 1
  • Cuba 9
  • Cyprus 7
  • Denmark 13
  • Egypt 15
  • France 7
  • Germany 23
  • Greece 546
  • Hong Kong 159
  • India 8
  • Indonesia 46
  • Ireland 1
  • Isle of Man 2
  • Israel 3
  • Italy 8
  • Japan 1814
  • Jordan 9
  • Latvia 2
  • Lithuania 5
  • Malaysia 11
  • Maldives 1
  • Malta 1
  • Mexico 4
  • Monaco 8
  • Netherlands 22
  • New Zealand 1
  • Nigeria 6
  • Norway 66
  • Pakistan 1
  • Peru 13
  • Philippines 15
  • Poland 19
  • Portugal 8
  • Romania 13
  • Russia 4
  • Saudi Arabia 4
  • Singapore 54
  • South Africa 3
  • South Korea 292
  • Spain 41
  • Sri Lanka 1
  • Sudan 1
  • Sweden 4
  • Switzerland 188
  • Syria 7
  • Taiwan 301
  • Thailand 10
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1
  • Tunisia 1
  • Turkey 18
  • Ukraine 9
  • UAE 83
  • United Kingdom 29
  • United States 88
  • Venezuela 20
  • Vietnam 2
  • Yemen 1

As at 2009, Panama dominated the ship registry scene with over 8,065 ships accounting for almost 23% of the world's DWT.


As at 2006, there were 117 airports in Panama.

Airports - with paved runways

53 airports had paved runways:

Airports - with unpaved runways

64 airports had unpaved runways:

See also

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2006-07-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. 1 2 3 "Panama: Country-specific information" Archived 2013-12-04 at the Wayback Machine . U.S. Department of State (March 18, 2009). PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2009-09-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Transport in Panama at Wikimedia CommonsPD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website .