Low Crime Rate
Panama is well known for many great things such as the near perfect weather, the low cost of living, outdoor activities, and spectacular scenery. But one important fact regarding Panama that is not so well known is the low crime rate throughout the country.
Thanks to their law enforcement structure, Panama has the lowest crime rate in Central America and is one of the safest places for people to retire or vacation. Early in 2009, an agreement was signed by the US Ambassador to Panama and the Minister of Presidency of Panama called the Merida Initiative. This plan, to be implemented over the course of several years, is a regional effort to stop the spread of organized crime and the trafficking of narcotics. So far, over 2 billion dollars of funding has gone toward the Merida Initiative to lower the crime rate.
This is in direct contrast to countries like Costa Rica. In 2007 the U.S. State Department designated Costa Rica as a “high crime rate country” for tourists, because of the significant increase in armed robberies, carjackings and other violent crimes. While these crimes do occur in Panama, they are far less common and occur primarily in the Canal Zone, between Panama City and Colon. In the vicinity of Ocean Ridge Estates on the Azuero peninsula, violent crimes are almost completely unheard of.
The United States government is also funding several major projects to lower the crime rate in Panama. First of all, improved police equipment will be distributed throughout the country, as well as increased security and better management at many Panamanian prisons. Next, a fingerprint exchange clearinghouse is being established to keep better tabs on previous offenders, as well as the purchasing of better investigative equipment. Within the next few years, more funding will be allotted to aid in the set up of community programs for at risk youth and gang members, as well as education for Panamanians on what they can do together to keep their communities safe.
Unlike most Central and South American countries, Panama is not a major grower and supplier of any illegal drugs. For a safe vacation or retirement, Panama is your best choice in Central America.