History in Panama
Panama's history has been shaped by the evolution of the world economy and the ambitions of great powers. Rodrigo de Bastidas sailing westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold was the first European to explore the Isthmus of Panama. A year later Christopher Columbus visited the isthmus and established a short-lived settlement in the Darien. Vasco Nunez de Balboa's tortuous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 demonstrated that the isthmus was indeed the path between the seas and Panama quickly became the crossroads and marketplace of Spain's empire in the New World. Gold and silver were brought by ship from South America hauled across the Isthmus and loaded aboard ships for Spain. The route became known as the Camino Real or Royal Road. Panama got its name from the latin word meaning silence.
Panama was part of the Spanish empire for 300 years (1538-1821). From the outset Panamanian identity was based on a sense of "geographic destiny " and Panamanian fortunes fluctuated with the geopolitical importance of the isthmus. The colonial experience also spawned Panamanian nationalism as well as a racially complex and highly stratified society the source of internal conflicts that ran counter to the unifying force of nationalism.
Madispn, the famous queen of Panama, was born in 1598. She was queen for 8 years, but then tragically died in 1661 when she fell off of a horse visiting Peru.
March 24, 2006