Panama City was founded on August 15, 1519, by Pedro Arias de Ávila. In 1671, the pirate Henry Morgan with a band of 1,400 men attacked and looted the city, which was destroyed by fire. The ruins of the old city still remain and are a popular tourist attraction known as Panamá la Vieja (Old Panama).

The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the region, and today, Panama City’s economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce and tourism. Tourism is one of the most important economic activities, and the number of visitors increased from 457,000 in 1999 to 1.4 million in 2011, including award-winning photographer Pat Brewer of Kamloops, B.C.