David Panama Overview
David Panama is in the Chiriqui province and its capitol. It was founded in 1602 As I have done some research on David I have found that many say it is the second largest city in Panama, while others say it is the third largest city. No one knows I guess. The population statistics are also varied from 82,000 people to as many as 125,000.
David is the largest city in western Panama and only 40 minutes from the Costa Rica border and 30 minutes from the ocean. Residents from all the smaller communities around, of which there are dozens, come to David to get supplies, medical attention and anything else they need. I have been told that David offers everything that Panama City has and that many people in this area never have to venture to Panama City. David is also the center for the farming industry that surrounds it. Sugar cane, as well as coffee, vegetables and corn are among the many crops that grow here or near here. David is also the financial center for this region, boasting many banks. David is also expanding their airport so it will be a international airport by 2013. This means the region will be open to direct flights from the US and other nations and increase the tourism trade.
David has a central city square park which is the lively meeting place on hot days. There are street performers, bands and other social entertainment going on under the huge impressive trees that mark the park. Surrounding the park in all directions for at least several blocks are the shopping stores. A curious note we discovered is that at least in David, every other store downtown we saw was a woman’s shoe store. Women here are crazy about shoes. Other shopping downtown includes department stores, sporting goods, computer, cell phone stores, grocery stores, fabric stores, furniture stores, hardware stores and more. There are street vendors everywhere selling fresh fruit, smoothies and shave ice as well as fresh baked goods.
On the Pan American highway just on the edge of town you will find two malls, tons of hardware stores, 2 of the 3 hospitals, car lots, KFC, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, Subway and several huge chain grocery stores. Groceries chains here include, El Rey, Super Baru(our favorite), Super 99 (owned by the president of Panama) and Romero’s.
Car lots here include, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Honda as well as others. Even tough the city seems large, you can maneuver your way across the city in under 20 minutes.
As for expats, you will not find as many of them here as in Boquete which is 40 minutes up in the mountains. The “gringos” you see in David are often here from Boquete shopping and returning to their homes in the mountains.
Difference Between David and Boquete
There are many obvious differences between the two cities, such as population. However, there are much bigger differences with regard to climate and elevation. The distance between David and Boquete is only 23 miles. Doesn’t sound like a lot. However, David is at sea level and Boquete sits at the base of Volcan Baru at an elevation of 3,000 ft. So in the distance of 23 miles you climb 3,00o ft. The climate in Boquete is cool, windy( 45 mph) and damp. The highs in the dry season can be in the mid 80’s but at night you will want to shut your windows and doors as it cools off and the winds pick up. It also rains in Boquete around 177 inches a year. The cool night air combined with the amount of moisture make the Boquete region damp.
David on the other hand is drier and hotter. At sea level the wind is less severe. The annual rainfall in David is around 117 inches which is a lot less than Boquete. Drier and less windy make David a much less damp place as well as more comfortable in the evenings.
At least for us, we will love living in David and enjoying our evenings on our covered patio. In Boquete, every night we have been there we had to close our windows and doors at 6:30PM when the sun set, as it would get cold and windy.
Here I have put a video made on the drive from Boquete to David. It was taken in March of 2012, when construction was still going on the new road. In the distance you can see the ocean straight ahead.