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Biodiversity of Panama

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The Emergence of the Isthmus of Panama

Panama's geographic position has enabled the immense biological richness it possesses today. Approximately 3 million years ago, the rise of the isthmus turned Panama into a biological bridge linking North and South America, initiating what is known as the Great American Biotic Exchange. Moreover, by splitting one ocean into two, it also altered ocean currents, meaning that the emergence of the isthmus changed the global climate.

A Biodiversity "Hotspot"

The variations in climate, soil, and wildlife have created a vast diversity of ecosystems, 13 life zones, 6 types of vegetation, and 65.4% of the national territory covered by forests, ensuring a richness of species, mainly in the Caribbean region, thus ensuring a balance in ecological processes and an indicator of healthy ecosystems.

Provinces such as Bocas del Toro and Darién possess a higher biodiversity of fauna and flora. There are approximately 1,300 endemic species in Panama, including 8 birds, 16 mammals, 33 reptiles, 49 amphibians, 64 freshwater fish, and 1,176 plants.


Panama, with an area of 75.517 km², hosts 9% of the known bird species in the world, meaning it has more bird species than the United States and Canada combined; 2.3% of reptile species; 3.4% of amphibian species; and 4.8% of existing mammal species. In Panama alone, 220 freshwater fish species and 1,157 marine fish species have been identified.


The isthmus ranks among the top 25 countries in the world in terms of diversity of flowering plant species. There are approximately 10,444 species of flowering plants in Panama, representing 3.3% of global diversity, and 7.1% of the world's ferns.

Green Gold

Thanks to the various groups and indigenous communities living in the country, Panama still has extensive forest cover because they are the main protectors of the forests. With the goal of remaining a green country and preserving water sources, the government aims to reforest more than 50,000 hectares in the coming years.

Panama, a Carbon-Negative Country

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021, Panama was one of the three countries in the world classified as carbon-negative. This means the country absorbs more greenhouse gases than it emits, thanks to its approximately 4,925,789 hectares of forests and more than 165,000 hectares of mangroves.


For those passionate about nature, Panama offers numerous trails that reflect the country's diversity in climate, vegetation, humidity, temperature, and soil. Each site is unique and offers different levels of hiking difficulty. Some of the recommended places include:

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