Panama Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Panama is a country in Central America. This lesson will teach you about Panama, where you can find it on a map, its famous canal, and some other cool facts about this country.

Where is Panama?

Imagine taking a vacation on a big cruise ship with your family. You are in the Atlantic Ocean, but then find yourself in a passage that cuts through land. The ship you're on passes all the way through and then you are floating in the Pacific Ocean! You just traveled through a famous canal in the country of Panama!

Panama is a country in the southern part of Central America on is a thin land bridge called an isthmus (pronounced ISS-muss) between Costa Rica and Colombia. Panama would fit inside Louisiana about 1 ½ times.

Map of Panama
Map of Panama

If you want to buy a snack or souvenir, you are in luck, because the US dollar is one of the kinds of money used in Panama, but only in paper bills. The coins they use are called balboas (pronounced bal-BOW-uhs), which look different from our coins.

The official language of Panama is Spanish, but you probably wouldn't have much trouble asking where the nearest ice cream parlor was because a lot of people in Panama speak English, too.

Panama City
Panama City

The capital of Panama is Panama City, which is near the middle of the country. There is even a park in Panama City that is a protected tropical rainforest! It is also close to an amazing water passage called the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a man-made channel that cuts through the middle of Panama. It was built by the US and opened in 1914, but is now run by the government of Panama.

From one coast to another, the canal is about 40 miles long. More than 2,000 blue whales could line up, nose to tail, in the canal!

Part of the Panama Canal
Part of the Panama Canal

It was made to be a short cut for ships sailing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and back so they didn't have to cruise down around the bottom of South America. It's like being able to cut through your friend's yard to get to the park instead of having to walk all the way around the block.

Ships sail into the canal and are towed through to the other side if they are big. The water level in the canal is raised and lowered by a series of big mechanisms called locks that control gates as the ships go through.

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