Península de Azuero, Panama

This bastion of traditional Spanish culture is home to the country’s most famous folkloric festivals.

Cherished as Panama’s cultural heart and soul, Península de Azuero is a farming and ranching hub, and the strongest bastion of Spanish colonial influence extant in the country. The area’s rolling hills are matched by a long and lovely coastline. Over time the peninsula has seen stark transformations – from verdant rainforest to cattle country, from indigenous land to Spanish stronghold and, finally, from sleepy backwater to surf central and one of Panama’s travel hot spots.

The passage of time here is a countdown to the next festival, be it Carnaval, La Mejorana or Corpus Christi. Costumes range from swirling devils and dragons to curtsying reinas (queens) turned dolls in traditional lace finery. Joining the throngs on sticky rum-soaked streets for these celebrations is a first-rate introduction to the real Panama. Península de Azuero consists of three provinces: Herrera, Los Santos and a slice of Veraguas

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