Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Information on San blas

The San Blas islands are a group of islands in the archipelago de San Blas, located in the Northwest of Panama facing the Caribbean Sea. There are 378 islands within the archipelago and they are scattered around in an area of about 100 square miles. If you leave the Golfo de San Blas by boat you will enter the Caribbean Sea. The majority of the 378 islands have no inhabitants, but on the larger ones you will find the gentle native people known as the Kuna’s. These people can be found on the larger inhabited Islands; Aguja Island, Guanidup Island, Chichimei, Yandup Island and El Porvenir.

What can you find in San Blas?

The San Blas Islands are the number #1 vacation destination in Panama and probably in Central America. This is because the Islands are not yet discovered by the massive tourism industry and fully in control of the native Kuna’s. The Kuna’s protect their lands against massive tourism and keep them healthy and beautiful. This makes the San Blas Islands of Panama unique if you are searching for untouched nature and culture. You will sleep in eco-friendly accommodations made by the Guna’s Indians from natural materials which they found on the Islands and in the jungle. The most common way to get around in the San Blas archipelago is by sailing from island to island, but you can also book flights from Panama City to the airports located on El Porvenir, Playon Chico, Achutupu, Ogobsucum or Corazon de Jesus in San Blas. Driving to Guna Yala (San Blas) is also possible, you will have to take a 4×4 jeep from Panama City to Carti

The native inhabitants are called the Guna

The native people living on the Islands of San Blas call themselves Kuna’s or Guna’s. The district/region in Panamawhere you can meet the native inhabitants is officially named after them; Guna Yala or Kuna Yala. The Kuna’s are community of proud people that have their own laws, norms and values that go with their culture, which is by the way totally different than the traditional Panamanian culture. Since the last headcount of all the Kuna Indians an estimated 300.000 live in Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia, only 50.000 live on the San Blas Islands. When you visit the San Blas Islands don’t forget to try some of the traditional Kuna food

The history of San Blas starts around 500 years ago

Around 500 years ago the Kuna’s where living in the Darian Gap that is now the border jungle of Panama and Colombia. This was a very dense jungle that made moving through very difficult and trading with other communities rare. In order to flourish the Kuna’s decided to go up north/west into Panama. We’re now arriving at the years 1650-1750 when the Spanish already occupied many places around that area. The Spanish conquistadors called the Kuna Yala reagion a pirate zone with many places to hide. The Kuna’s did not bother the pirates and where slowly starting to settle among the island trading with the Pirates and Spanish explorers.

Arriving 200 years ago

The first real settlements of the Kuna were build on the Islands of San Blas around the year 1800. The Kuna had plenty of food and trade roots with different families, pirates and explorers, which benefited the growing of the community. Another important historical event that did not stop this growth in their community was that the islands had no jungle diseases that kept the numbers of Kuna people low in the years before because of deadly illnesses. These days the Guna receive healthcare of the Panamanian government if they need it. Yet, these days the numbers of the native Guna’s are declining since many leave to earn money outside Guna Yala.

n 1903 Panama became independent

In 1903 Panama became an independent country but the Kuna did not want to be part of Panama and where protesting against the new Panamanian government. In 1925 the Kuna communities gained the status of an independent state within Panama. This gave them more influence over their own culture and rules. In 1938 the Kuna made their own constitution called “La Carta Organica de San Blas”, which was approved officially approved by the Panamaian goverment in 1945.
Since 1940 no tourist where allowed in San Blas
No tourist and scientist where allowed in the Kuna empire until the late 1940’s. After the 1940’s they began to open the borders and the first tourist followed the scientist, mostly anthropologists where visiting the San Blas. Nowadays the San Blas Islands are open for tourist and the Kuna run a pretty good tourist business. But after all these years they still keep tight control over their own people and cultural legacies, which resulted in a strong preservation of nature and culture in San Blas.

Pictures of the San Blas Islands of Panama

San Blas is one of the pristine places of Panama and these pictures will tell you why. The pictures have been taken on random locations in the San Blas archipelago and show the great diversity of culture, nature, wildlife and sea life that can be found around the Islands.

Pictures of San Blas

San Blas Island
Isla Perro, commonly referred to as Dog Island is probably the #1 destination in San Blas for snorkeling, relaxing and enjoying the Island vibe. The old gunboat shipwreck is an excellent place to spot tropical fish, colorful coral and other marine life. It lies just in front of the main beach and is partly submerged when the tide is low.
San Blas Islands Chichimei
As you can see most of the Islands are inhabited by palm trees and palm trees.
Panama San Blas
This picture is taken while swimming in the crystal clear waters around the island of Chichimei. Chichimei is one of the larger islands in San Blas but walking around takes you only 10 minutes!
San Blas Panama
When you visit San Blas by boat and you did not enter the Panamanian maritime borders yet you have to go to this frontier in El Porvenir to enter Panama. Getting a stamp in your passport and paying some dollars for your boat.
San Blas Islands water
In the high season you can find a lot of sailboats passing by through San Blas Panama. The sailboats are all anchored here because the island protects the boats against the bigger waves and sea currents. The smaller boat in the front of the picture is a water taxi that can take you to any island or the mainland.
San Blas Islands of Panama
Another small pearl of an Island in the archipelago. If you look closely you can see the reef breaking the waves of he Caribbean Sea on the left. This reef protects the Islands against Mother Nature.
Aerial picture of San Blas Islands
This picture was taken with a GoPRo camera hanging underneath a drone!
San Blas Guna
A local Kuna woman dressed in her traditional Molas. You can see the nice patterns of the Mola on her arms, legs and middle back. The more color and detail the more value the Mola has to the Kuna’s.
Guna Yala
The Kuna’s is trying to sell fish and Molas to tourist in their wooden canoes. They know how to peddle the strong currents!
Panama San Blas Islands
While sailing we passed one of the many uninhabited Island of San Blas. Most of the Islands are to small to settle on for the Kuna’s so they only use the islands as refuge for rough seas or to collect coconuts.
San Blas Islands
Another amazing picture of a tropical bounty island in Guna Yala.
Guna woman
The Guna’s sell their piece of art, which are called Molas.
San Blas Sailing
This cool photo shows the sail of a sailboat and the blue sky of Panama.
San Blas Spanish school
Most Kuna people can’t speak any foreign languages next to Kuna. They take Spanish classes to communicate with tourist and Panamanians. Some Kuna’s can speak English but most of them learned this on the mainland.
Beaches San Blas Islands
The sand you will find on the majority of the San Blas Islands is crystal white and very fine as you can see on this picture.

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