The History and Culture of Boquete

Anatoly Gaviria June 5, 2013

When most people think of Panama, they think of the stunning beaches and lush tropical flora. Many do not know that there is also a mountain range with peaks that reach some twelve hundred meters above sea level. The weather is much cooler than in the lower areas of the country. Because of the milder weather and stunning scenery, Boquete and the surrounding area has become a popular holiday and vacation spot. Not only do locals prefer this area, but those from out of the country are slowly learning about this locale.

  • History – Boquete, which means gap or opening in Spanish, was established in 1911. Originally, the area was used a short cut to the gold rush in California. Settlers started stay put and quite a few villages were established. Tourism is the main form of income other than farming. The main crop in the area is coffee beans which are thought to be some of the best in the world.

  • Culture – There are nearly twenty thousand locals in this area of Panama. While the cultural past of Boquete is not as varied as other places in Panama, there is a more recent cultural growth that comes from both the locals and the transplants. These transplants consist of both North American and European retired persons. Some of the cultural activities include both a music and arts scene. There is an annual jazz festival and a performing group that offers theatrical productions.

  • Random Facts – There is plenty for hikers to see when traversing the landscape surrounding Boquete. One of the highlights is the Baru Volcano whose peak rises an amazing three thousand four hundred and seventy five meters. It is the highest landmark in all of Panama. While the peak is high, the hike is not very daunting for the experienced hiker. The Caldera River cuts through the town and the coffee served is simply superb. This is not surprising considering the coffee is grown just meters away! Roughly fifteen percent of the population consists of transplants. The low cost of living combined with the slow paced lifestyle has made this area perfect for retirees.

While Boquete is a small farming and retirement community, there is history and culture associated with it. Those who are looking for a slower paced way of life will love this area. You can take a leisurely walk through the forest or enjoy a hike over the tallest peak in the country. You should make a point of catching a theater production or head to a local pub for some jazz music.