Scientists believe the formation of the Isthmus of Panama to be one of the most important geological events in the last 60 million years. It had an enormous impact on Earth’s climate and environment and also changed dramatically our continent’s biodiversity.
This geological event allowed plant and animal species to pass from North America to South America and vice-versa using the Isthmus as a natural bridge to populate new areas, explaining why Panama's biodiversity is so amazing! For example, felines originally coming from North America successfully invaded the vast lands of the south, becoming top predators. On the other hand, toothless mammals such as sloths, armadillos and anteaters were able to migrate from South America to the forests of the north.
Today Panama hosts almost 1,000 species of birds (more than the USA and Canada together!), as well as 220 species of mammals and 354 species of reptiles and amphibians.
As for the plants, there are more than 1800 tree species in the Canal Zone alone! Speaking of the Canal Zone there is no other capital in Latin America where you can walk a rainforest trail searching for monkeys, sloths or toucans less than 45 minutes from your hotel downtown.
Almost 30% of Panama's land is protected in 14 national parks and more than a dozen forest reserves and wildlife refuges.