Panama is the hub of the natural land bridge that connects the two continents of North and South America. So Panama is home to many South American species as well as North and Central American wildlife. There are said to be over 10,000 varieties of plants and 1500 species of trees, and more then 1,000 species of birds. This is more than can be found in North America and Europe combined, and it includes some of the rarest on Earth.
There are also 220 mammals and 354 reptiles and amphibians. Panama also had hundreds of islands and kilometers of protected coral reef, which shelter a wide diversity of marine life.
Apart from visiting the National Parks and seeing their flora and fauna, there are also ecotourism adventures which can include, for example, trips on foot and by dugout canoe in the Darien, where you can visit the Embera and Waunana indigenous groups. The Emberá are a unique and beautiful people. They live much as they did when Columbus arrived in the 1500′s. You will be immersed in their cultural dance and music. The Emberá still do paint their bodies with a natural fruit dye called Jagua and create beautiful baskets and carvings of tagua and wood.
Other opportunities for eco exploration exist because The Smithsonian Institute of Tropical Research has been researching the plants and wild life in Panama for around 80 years. For example, The Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas on the Causeway in Panama City contains, among other exhibits, two aquariums that show the differences between fish in the Pacific and Caribbean Seas (the fish from the Caribbean are the more colorful). Another possibility, The Arboretum, located at the Smithsonian’s headquarters in Panama City, is home to a range of ecological interactions. They have also installed canopy access systems, which consist of tower construction cranes with specially adapted gondolas, in two tropical forests: a seasonally dry forest at the Metropolitan Nature Park of Panama City and a moist forest at Fort Sherman on Panama ’s Atlantic coast.