Panama is most famous for its canal more than anything else (even the Panama hats – which come from Ecuador) it is the Isthmus that connects the north and South American continents. It seceded from Colombia in the early 1900’s with the backing of the United States – predominantly to allow the construction of the canal. Today much of its economy derives from tolls from the canal, as well as tourism and a flourishing banking and services sector. Given its somewhat diminutive size and population, agriculture does not play a significant role in the economy.
Panama is well known for its specialty coffee processing both washed and natural coffees. Its focus on specialty coffee has been driven by historically low price of coffee in the 1990’s which forced a number of producers to rethink how best to make a living from production of coffee. Most notably are coffees from Boquete, a region with over a century of coffee producing knowledge behind it. Coffees from Panama have been known to be amongst some of the most expensive in the world – especially those produced from Geisha varietals. Producing altitudes in Panama range from 1200 to 2000 metres above sea level, and are grown on small holder farms typically less than 10 hectares. Due to its size, Panama produces only around 100,000 bags per annum.