Once considered as the trade center of the Spanish empire, the Republic of Panama now acts as a natural bridge where modern cities meet with nature’s beauty. Panama proudly houses one of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal, which has been facilitating oceangoing transits since opening in 1914. This country’s rich history is reflected in sites such as the fortresses in Portobelo and San Lorenzo and the charming churches and government buildings of Old Panama. With coasts on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Popular pastimes include trekking through the many lush tropical rain forests where nature lovers can find thousands varieties of flora and fauna.