What Languages Are Spoken in Panama

What Language is Spoken in Panama
(Last Updated On: )
panama people

Panamanian Spanish- Languages Panama

What language is spoken in Panama? Spanish is the official and primary language of the Latin American country of Panama. But Panamanian Spanish is not the same as the one spoken by the people in Costa Rica or around the Caribbean coast because it includes expressions. Located in the East of Costa Rica, North West of Colombia, the South and North of the Caribbean, and the Pacific Ocean, the islands, Panama Canal, and Panama City Beach, are international picnic spots. The nation has a distinctive taste in music videos with hundreds and thousands of fans worldwide. With a diverse mix of cultures, races, ethnicity, this country is home to Spanish-speaking people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Chinese, African, British, Russian, United States, French, Latin American, and Islandic.

Despite having their lingos, they all speak Panamanian Spanish just as well as their mother tongue. Most speakers use Castilian as the prime mode of communication, which is different from the Castilian Spanish spoken in different corners of Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica. It is due to the continuous influence of Spain. However, it is also interesting to know that people were speaking their Spanish language long before the arrival of Spain. Those Indigenous Panamanians still make up around 10 to 12 percent of the total population.

Is Panamanian a language?

Panamanian itself is not a language. However, Panamanian Spanish is the language spoken in Panama. It is also known as Castilian and is associated with the various forms of Caribbean Spanish.

The main difference between Spanish and Panamanian Spanish is the pronunciation of some syllables. For example, in some words, the English sound ch, as in chips, is replaced by the English sound sh, as in she. Panamanian Spanish has also introduced a variety of terms lexically.

Panama’s Dominant Languages

The province of Chiriquí is known for its abundant population of Chinese ex-pats, and statistics have shown that there is a substantial Chinese community in Chiriquí. Although 90% of the nation is Castilian Spanish speaking, the English language is also spoken by citizens who generally work in offices, schools, or the corporate sector. Around 4 percent of the people speak French, and one percent speak Arabic. Some people even use Latin as their daily mode of communication as well. Apart from those, the locals also speak indigenous languages such as Guaymí, or Ngäbere, Embera, Hakka, Buglere.

people of panama
people of panama country

Some interesting facts:

For a country whose corners are filled with hundred percent of vibrancy, music, and a multitude of cultural diversity, ethnic groups, and nationalities. It might be surprising that the English language has the most significant impact on Panamanian Spanish, even with many English words. But the funny thing, if you are traveling from America and expecting to meet English speakers, you’ll most certainly be disappointed. Most of those speakers are from Panama City, a country’s commercial and business hub, and the corporate sector requires bilingual workers for official and communication purposes. They all have to speak the Panama Languages. You can expect youngsters to use slang just like they do in Spain or hear someone say a thing or two in Latin but not many English words, of course.

Another fun fact: dialects

Another fun fact is about dialects. The cities, coasts, and provinces are filled with different ex-pats. And all the citizens have an impact on the way they speak. This is why other regions within the country have different kinds of slang, verbs, etc. Dialects and usages are also different, and it’s like one country has various versions of the same terminology.

Should I Learn Panamanian Spanish Before Visiting Panama?:

First, find out what language is spoken in Panama and then, of course, you should learn the Panama Language. First off, even if you intend to spend your time in English Speaking localities such as in the capital city, you might still need to interact with the community in the islands, perhaps with a guide, a local salesperson, or a coffee shop owner at the coast who may or may not understand what you say. Also, it would help if you sounded confident there. Or maybe, for some fun time, learn a few popular slang terms too. What if you become friends with some party hitters there? You should be able to keep the night young.

Short stay in Panama

Secondly, If you are staying for a night or two, no need, but if you intend to live here indefinitely and you are a native American, you certainly need to learn Panama’s Spanish along with the slang as this is the only way you can communicate with people quickly and comfortably. So how do you start? Start with the basics, check out what language is spoken in Panama, the slang, the Spanish verbs from Embera, vocabulary from Hakka, etc., and start with the basics. It will get harsh words and phrases, grammar and punctuation, spelling, and yes, but that’s the only proper way to do it. In this regard, check out which learning way is good for you?

Are you an audio person or a visual one? Audio lessons have sounds of alphabets included, whereas videos can help you learn essential vocabulary step-by-step, which could help even better. If you enjoy videos more, go to Youtube and see if you can find one used for your learning journey.

Dialects are equally important, but you can keep on learning over time. So, start with words and phrases.

Do I Need To Translate My Documents Into Castilian Spanish?

For that, you might have to get in touch with your immigration agent or lawyer. They have a better understanding of rules and regulations in Colombia and the Pacific region, and they can even educate about the requirements. Most countries don’t require translation of official documents if they are already in English, but there are some exceptions. So it’s always best to ask your immigration agent whether you need a translation of your documents or not.

For instance, if you are a student from Central America, doing research on the Caribbean region, or visiting Panama City Beach for recreation purposes, you could be asked for validation from a university or school, or the immigration might ask you for a translation of your academic report cards. So don’t hesitate to confirm with your agent. We suggest you schedule a detailed meeting to talk about all your concerns and inquiries. Staying prepared in advance always helps, especially if you are traveling abroad.

panama people and country

If we can help you with any questions, please feel free to contact us

Can I Get By If I Speak English?

You sure can’t get fluent in Embera, Hakka, Buglere, or Ngäbere in a month or two, but thinking that you can survive in the Pacific region without learning Spanish, is not going to help. Sure, you can get by if you are there for a day and night trip.

We’d suggest searching for a video lesson version; interactive courses are great for picking things instantly. A few new words and phrases each day won’t hurt much, and you’ll be able to speak fluently eventually. A lot of that depends upon why you are visiting the canal city or another region of the country. If you are there for a business like real estate, then conversing in the native language is a compulsion. You might even have to take a course or something to get a hold of the minority languages as well.

Suppose you are going there as an industry researcher, money statistics. The official currency and many other factors would be vital for you, and for that, again, you need to be more prepared, more fluent in the common language. After all, even Christopher Columbus visited this place in the 16th century.

What are the top 2 languages spoken in Panama?

The version of Spanish spoken in Panama is different than the one spoken in Spain. We can say that it is a dialect of the Original Spanish. There are pronunciation and vocabulary differences between Panamanian Spanish and Original Spanish. Spanish is the first language of nearly all of the Panamanian population. The dialect of Spanish that people use in Panama City contains some English words. Therefore, it has the name “Spanglish.” Moreover, 14% of the total population also speaks English. People use English as the medium of instruction in many Educational Institutions in Panama.

How many languages does Panama speak?

There are about 14 different languages that the Population of Panama is familiar with. There are about seven major indigenous groups in Panama. They speak various dialects, among which Kuna and Ngöbe-Bugle are the most common. In Panama’s Bocas del Toro region, Guari Guari, or Creole English, is very famous. Guari Guari contains some derivatives of English, but even Native English Speakers will find it very difficult to figure them out. About 14% of the Panamanian population is very fluent in English. Similarly, nearly 100% of the Panamanian population (4 million) knows Spanish very well. Other languages of the indigenous groups and the immigrant communities are also pretty common.

What are the 14 languages spoken in Panama?

To make it easier for you to understand, we have listed down all the 14 languages people speak in Panama.

  1. Buglere is a Chibchan language of Panama, and it closely relates to Guaymi. It has two dialects, Sabanero and Bokota. The Bokota people speak these dialects, and there are about 12000 Bokota speakers.
  2. Yue is another term for the Cantonese Language, a dialect of Chinese. Yue Chinese has about 84 million speakers all over the world.
  3. Hakka is another dialect of Chinese. This language is in disintegration and on the way to becoming one of the Endangered languages.
  4. Embera belongs to the Choco Language family. It has about 100,000 speakers in Colombia and South-Eastern Panama.
  5. Embera-Catio is an Indigenous American language that the Embera people of Colombia and Panama speak. It has about 15000 speakers.
  6. Northern Embera is also known as West Embera and Cholo. Reportedly, it is the largest Embera language.
  7. San Miguel Creole French is an endangered language version of Creole French. It has very few speakers.
  8. Panamanian Creole English is a version of English that the Panamanians speak. It uses some derivatives of English, but they are tough to distinguish.
  9. Ngaire is an indigenous language that the Ngabe people of Costa Rica and Panama speak.
  10. San Blas Kuna is an indigenous language of Panama and Colombia.
  11. Won Meu is a Chocoan language with about 10,000 speakers in Panama and Colombia.
  12. Teribe is an indigenous language that Teribe Indians of Panama speak.
  13. English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European family of languages.
  14. Spanish is a romance language that people speak in Spanish and the Americas.

What other languages do they speak in Panama?

About 65% of Panama’s population is Mestizo. Mestizo is a community comprising both white and indigenous people. The official language of Panama is Spanish, and many Panamanians also speak English. Besides these two languages, there are few other languages common in Panama. However, These languages are indigenous, and therefore, only the indigenous population speaks these languages. These languages that the native population speaks include the Bokota language, Bri-Bri language, and the Buglé language. Moreover, the Native people also speak the Amberá language, Guna language, Wounaan language, Ngöbe language, and Naso-Teribe language.

What are the top 5 languages spoken in Panama?

The top 5 languages spoken in Panama are:

1. Spanish

2. Panamanian Spanish

3. Bulgere

4. Yue

5. Hakka


Our privacy policy

Keep in touch


Contact Us 24/7

Translation office in Miami