Panama conjures up images of tropical rainforest. The Darien Jungle is one of the most pristine and impenetrable in the world, and that is where the famous Pan American Highway (or Interamericana) crossing the Americas from Alaska all the way to Ushuaia in Chile stops dead - to re-commence some 100 km further in Colombia.
This interruption in the Interamericana is called (in English) the Darien Gap, a very dangerous area due to the drug smuggling cartels using it as transfer route and also due to the activities of FARC, the Colombian terrorist organization whose narco-terrorists often cross the border into Panama.
Panamanians refuse point-blank to extend any road connection to Colombia, calling the Darien not the Gap in Spanish but the Buffer, believing that the lack of road connections keeps Colombian problems mostly away from Panama City.
In Panama there is rainforest all over the place – even the city’s own park, the Parque Metropolitano, consists entirely of rain forest Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro are the only other two major cities to have national parks within their municipal boundaries). And only thirty minutes’ drive from downtown Panama is the Soberania National Park, which offers some of the most spectacular bird watching opportunities in the world.
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