Understanding the Safety Index in Panama: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats and Travelers

Panama has become an increasingly popular destination for expats seeking a tropical paradise with modern amenities. From the bustling skyscrapers in Panama City to the tranquil beaches of Bocas del Toro, the country offers a blend of the contemporary and the natural. However, one crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked while considering moving to or visiting is the Safety Index in Panama. In this article, we delve into understanding Panama’s safety index, what it means for you, and how you can navigate life or vacation here safely.

What is the Safety Index?

The safety index is a numerical or categorical representation derived from various crime statistics, typically encompassing violent crimes, property crimes, drug-related issues, and other security concerns. It serves as a quick reference for evaluating how secure an environment is. The safety index can vary across different cities and regions within Panama, and keeping a keen eye on these statistics can make your time in the country more secure and enjoyable.

Current Status of the Safety Index in Panama

According to reports, Panama City has a moderate to high safety index, especially in well-to-do neighborhoods and tourist areas. However, like any other city, it has its share of crime. Urban areas like Colon and certain districts of Panama City like El Chorillo and Curundu have higher crime rates and in parts can be considered unsafe at night.

Sources for Understanding Panama’s Safety Index

The information on Panama’s safety index is sourced from a range of reliable platforms to give an accurate and comprehensive overview. Here are some places you can check for the most current statistics:

  1. Numbeo: This crowd-sourced database provides a safety index derived from user surveys and covers various aspects of crime.
  2. U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory: This governmental source provides a safety rating and advice for travelers considering visiting Panama.
  3. Global Peace Index: An annual report that ranks countries based on their level of safety and societal stability.

Categories of Crime

  1. Violent Crimes: While not widespread, violent crimes like assault and robbery do occur. These are typically more common in areas known for gang activity.
  2. Petty Theft: This is more common in tourist-heavy areas. Beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded places or tourist hotspots.
  3. Scams and Fraud: While less frequent, tourists and new expats are occasionally targeted for scams, so staying informed and cautious is advisable.

Geographic Variances

The safety index isn’t uniform across Panama. Areas like Boquete, Coronado, and the Pearl Islands generally enjoy a high safety index, thanks in part to the larger expat communities and higher police presence.

Tips for Staying Safe in Panama

  1. Stay Informed: Always check the latest safety reports and talk to locals and other expats for the most current information.
  2. Choose Your Area Wisely: Different neighborhoods have different safety profiles. Research before you choose a place to live or visit.
  3. Follow Local Laws and Guidelines: This should go without saying, but abiding by the law is one of the most effective ways to stay out of trouble.
  4. Be Vigilant in Crowded Areas: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or less reputable areas.

What Does this Mean for Expats and Travelers?

  1. Preparation is Key: The more you know, the safer you’ll be. Preparing in advance is the first step toward ensuring a trouble-free stay in Panama.
  2. Invest in Security: If you’re planning to move, investing in a home security system can add an extra layer of protection if you are in a house or apartment that doesn’t already provide it.
  3. Local Connections Help: Often, the best information comes from local sources, so don’t hesitate to make friends or join community groups.


Understanding the safety index in Panama is essential for anyone planning to spend time in the country. While Panama is generally safe compared to other countries in the region, it is crucial to remain vigilant, be informed, and take appropriate precautions to ensure your experience is both enjoyable and secure.

By keeping these aspects in mind, expats and travelers alike can make more informed decisions and navigate the complexities of safety in Panama with greater ease. Always remember, the most effective safety measure is staying informed and prepared. Feel free to reach out for any questions that you might have.

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