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  • Writer's pictureCari Mackey

Who are Panamanians? What's their history?

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

The beaches are open, and restrictions are lifting, allowing people to get out to celebrate their freedoms this month. In November, Panama celebrates two independence holidays so although the celebrations will be far from normal, at least people can get out in nature and enjoy their beautiful country.

This week, on Nov 3rd and 4th, Panama celebrates its separation from Colombia. Panama was part of an area called Gran Colombia from 1821 until 1903. Then on November 28th, Panama will celebrate its independence from Spain who ruled the country from 1513-1821.

So, who are Panamanians?

Don't worry, this won't be a long history lesson. Most Panamanians are a mix of European and Indigenous ancestry but fortunately, there still remains seven indigenous peoples of Panama who survived the Spanish conquest. In our area of Panama we live among the Ngäbe Bugle who are the most numerous indigenous group in Panama. After years of struggle, in 1997 the government of Panama officially created their "region" in western Panama as an autonomous territory where they are governed by their indigenous peoples constitutional rights. 

The Ngäbe Bugle are known as fierce fighters for fighting and never surrendering to the Spaniards and now continuing to protect their rights from the Panamanian government. Although some of their people have moved throughout the country joining modern society, the majority still remain in the mountains of Western Panama where they govern themselves under their indigenous constitution.  

It is an honor to travel through the country of Panama to see and witness the colorfully dressed people of the different indigenous groups. The Ngäbe Bugle women traditionally dress as you see in this photo and the men modestly in collared shirts and pants. From their lands of Western Panama as well as here in Veraguas, the Ngäbe Bugle typically live in humble homes maintaining their ancient self sustaining lifestyles. 

While everyone is celebrating independence from Spain and Colombia this month, we will especially be honoring the original inhabitants of this beautiful country and what they have endured over the course of their history to get to where they are today. 

Your Friends in Morrillo,

Cari and Ryan Mackey

Owners and Hosts

Morrillo Beach Eco Resort

TURTLE TIP:Freedom on a different level. Remember its nesting season right now. To protect the nests, avoid driving and bonfires on the beaches. 

Would you like to adopt a nest? Donate $50 today to have a nest in your name and experience the liberation of the turtles virtually or in person if you can come visit! Click here to donate. 

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