Chiriqui, located in the western-most region of Panama, is bordered to the north by Bocas del Toro, to the west by Costa Rica, to the east by the Veraguas and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. It encompasses mountains, rolling hills and coastal plains, but is probably most well known for its highland regions of Boquete, Volcan and Cerro Punta.
David, the capital of Chiriqui, is Panama’s third largest city and is the agricultural and commercial center for the thriving cattle industry of this area. Many large businesses have outlets here, including supermarkets, department stores and even a membership shopping store, with more appearing regularly.
Two private hospitals provide first class medical services to the area’s ever-growing expatriate population, and its reputation as a destination for health care is growing.
The highlands of Chiriqui are noted for their pleasant climate and stunning landscapes. Early settlers to this area were mainly of northern European origin, and traces of this can be seen both in the people and in the architecture.
Chiriqui is world famous for its coffee plantations, as well as oranges and strawberries, and is definitely the breadbasket of Panama.
Spread around the dormant Baru Volcano, the highest point in Panama at over 11,400 feet, the highlands of Chiriqui have become one of the most sought after retirement and second home destinations in the Americas. Boquete, in particular, which is located to the east of the volcano, has boomed over the past several years with dozens of developments from gated communities to single house lots being snapped up by people from around the world. Drawn by the year-round, spring-like climate, the abundance of wildlife and a quiet lifestyle, it is no wonder that this area now has thousands of expatriate residents.
Tourists and backpackers also come to the highlands by the plane and busload, especially those with an interest in birds. This is one of the few places in the world that bird enthusiasts can regularly see the reclusive Resplendent Quetzal, a colorful species of tropical bird, endemic to and thriving in the cloud forests of Panama.
Since Boquete has grown so much and land prices have multiplied, people have expanded their search for property and now major developments are happening in other highland areas such as Volcan and Cerro Punta, small towns on the western slopes of Baru Volcano, and in the coastal areas of La Barqueta, Boca Chica and Las Lajas. Chiriqui province is poised to experience renewed interest and growth due to the expansion of the airport in David, the improved highway between David and Boquete, and other infrastructure improvement projects in the works. The financial downturn of 2008 slowed real estate activity somewhat in this area, and a recovery is now evolving.
Provincial capital: David
Area: 6,547.7 km² / 4,068 mile²
Population: 416,873 inhabitants (2010)
Principal industry: Agriculture (Cattle, Tomatoes, Coffee), Tourism, Commerce
Distance from Panama City to David: 275 miles / 444 km
Main areas of development: Boquete, David, Caldera, Volcan, Cerro Punta, La Barqueta, Las Lajas
Airport: Enrique Malek International Airport in David with domestic flights to and from Panama City and international flights to and from San Jose, Costa Rica, recently expanded with a longer runway for more international flights and a new passenger terminal.