Panama Ethnic Groups
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|Local Research Resources|
Due to its unique geographical location, economic importance, and historical significance, Panama has become a blend of many cultures and ethnicities. The Panama Railroad and later the Panama Canal attracted workers from China, the West Indies, and Africa. Commercial opportunities attracted merchants from Europe, India, and the Middle East. The involvement of France and the United States in the building of the Panama Canal also influenced immigration from these countries. Panama is also home to a diverse group of indigineous people.
Indigenous Groups of Panama
Indigenous groups currently inhabit five "comarcas" in Panama; although, some groups like the Teribe and Bri Bri are so small that they do not have a comarca.
|Emberá||Areas of Darién, by the banks of rivers such as the Chucunaque, Tuira, Balsas, Chico, Jaqué, Sambú, Río Bagre|
|Wounaan||By the banks of Río Chagres en Alto Chagres, Mocambo Abajo, San Antonio, Gamboa, and Emberá Gatún|
|Kunas||Archipielago of Kuna Yala|
|Ngöbe - Buglé||Provinces of Chiriquí, Bocas del Toro, and Veraguas|
|Teribe (Nazo)||Western part of the province of Bocas del Toro,primarily along the banks of the Teribe river|
|Bokotá||Small communities spread between the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Veraguas.|
|Bri Bri||On the border with Costa Rica, near the Río Yorkín y Sixaola tributary in the province of Bocas del Toro|
The Embera-Wounaan people are also known as Choco and the Ngobe-Bugle people are also known as Guaymi. The Teribe and Bri Bri populations are small and they do not live in a 'Comarca."
Extinct Indigenous Groups
Some indigenous groups are extinct, such as the Doraz or Dorasque people, who mainly inhabited the town of Dolega in the province of Chiriqui. The Dorasque eventually intermarried with the local population and ceased to exist as a distinct group. However, they left behind a written language.
- Research paper on current indigenous groups in Panama.
- Description of indigenous groups in Panama.
- Geographical location (comarcas) of indigenous groups in Panama.
- Bibliography of indigenous groups in Panama.
Jewish People of Panama
Chinese People of Panama
The Chinese influence in Panama dates back to more than 150 years ago. On April 1, 1854, the first wave of over 700 Chinese laborers arrived in Panama aboard the Sea Witch to work in the construction of the Panama Railroad company. A handful of Chinese immigrants had made their way to the Panama shores earlier and had established businesses and bought farms in the interior of the country. Chinese laborers would later be imported to work in the construction of the Panama Canal.
Juan Tam wrote a book, "Chinese Footprints in Panama: 150 Years of Chinese Presence" that documents the history of Chinese migration to Panama and provides a large amount of genealogical information.
West Indian (Antillian) People of Panama
East Indian People of Panama
Arab People of Panama
French People of Panama
Italian People of Panama
The Italian immigration to Panama began during the construction of the Panama Canal and another influx of immigrants took place after the end of World War II.