Panama also known as “the place of many fish” is a tropical paradise with beaches, rainforests and exotic animals, birds and and sea life of unparalleled beauty.  Sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and transformed this country into an international trade hub.

Academics play a major role in teen life here, with study groups a common after-school gathering. On weekends, groups of friends to go to the movies, play sports (baseball, soccer and basketball are favorites), dance and attend regional festivals.

AFS Youth exchange in Panama

Culture & Community

You will probably live in a small town or rural area in Panama. Your host family will want to know your whereabouts, so check in with your host parents before make decisions. Also, like your host siblings, don’t forget your household chores. 


You will probably attend a public school and be able to choose your field of study. School runs in two shifts—morning and afternoon, and all students wear school uniforms. Panama has one of the highest literacy rates in the region (97%).


The primary language in Panama is Spanish, and many people speak English as well. A basic knowledge of English will be helpful.


Panamanian food is varied and delicious. Rice is the staple of the diet and is eaten twice a day. Meals include meat, beans, platanos (a type of starchy banana) and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and cabbage. Don’t forget to taste the chichas, sweet cold fruit drinks.

Explore the Programs Available in Panama