PANAMA is divided into seven provinces—namely, Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui, Code, Colon, Los
Santos, Panama, and Veragua.
In the north-western province of Bocas del Toro, the United Fruit Company are cultivating
bananas on a large scale. The Company's steamers, sailing from New York and New Orleans,
are thoroughly well equipped for passenger traffic. There are several services weekly to
Cristobal and a bi-weekly service between Colon and the port of Bocas, whence millions of
bunches of bananas from the neighbouring plantations are exported annually.
To or near many of the richest and most beautiful parts of the Isthmus go the steamers of
the National Navigation Company, a local enterprise which was
 established for trading purposes, but which is now catering for tourist traffic. Every
sightseer should remember, when making inquiries about the facilities afforded by these
boats, that any person's criticism of the native ideal of passenger accommodation is bound
to be influenced by the individual critic's standard of comfort and convenience, and that
there are some people who feel they are paying too dearly for travelling in the wilds if
they have not all the luxuries of a first-class hotel at their disposal, whilst others can
appreciate and make the best of any opportunity for getting off the beaten track.
At the offices of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company in Panama city, arrangements can be
made for an excursion to the island of Taboga. The superintendent of the P.S.N. Co., which
is a British enterprise intimately related to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, can be
relied on to organize the trip to Taboga on the lines of a luxurious picnic.
Many isolated centres of industry, together with the undeveloped regions of the Republic,
can only be reached through the agency of Shank's pony, a mule, a native canoe, a guide,
camping kit, and carriers.
The pearl fisheries, around the Pearl Islands, are among the Republic's principal sources
of income; but the grounds have been worked for centuries, and now yield a poor harvest of
gems compared with the treasures that were wrested from them by the Spaniards. But
although hundreds of oysters may only furnish one pearl of value, the shells have their
price. Many tons of them are bought annually by the United States and Europe, to be used
in the manufacture of buttons, buckles, and various kinds of ornaments. Most of the divers
YOUNG PANAMANIANS POUNDING THEIR SUPPER.
Further, the principal products of the Republic include
 cattle which are raised in large numbers in the provinces of Chiriqui and Veragua, corn,
beans, rice, cocoa, coffee, coconuts, and ivory-nuts. Large quantities of ivory-nuts are
used in Italy for the manufacture of buttons.
The Isthmian forests are richly stocked with many varieties of timber, several of the
woods having such excellent qualities as durability and beauty. Tropical forests, more
commonly known as "The Bush," are a magnificent tangle of luxurious vegetation; trees rise
from an impassably dense undergrowth, swarms of parasitic plants grow on their trunks and
boughs, and the overhead branches of neighbouring giants intertwine, or are linked
together by creepers. Numerous varieties of orchids are a feature of the Panamanian Bush.
Gold mines are worked in the rich Darien district, the region which the British tried to
colonize towards the close of the seventeenth century, and which is intimately associated
with that great financial disaster known as the South Sea Bubble. However, it is a British
company, the Darien Gold Mining Company of London, that has obtained much of the wealth
that has been redeemed from the Darien region during recent years.
The Indians play no insignificant part in the trade of the Isthmus. One of their principal
trading stations is at the port of San Carlos, in the south-west of the province of
Panama. The most interesting of the Isthmian aborigines are the San Blas Indians, who
inhabit a district in the north-east of the province of Colon. For centuries they have
kept their race pure. Until recently they would not allow any stranger to set foot on
their shores; even now, anyone who visits their country is closely watched, and is not
permitted to stay the night. San Blas Indians frequently go to Colon city for trading
 purposes. They make the trip there and back, eighty odd miles each way, in cayukas, which
carry a cargo of bananas, coconuts, and ivory-nuts. Cayukas or dug-outs are little
one-piece boats, made from the trunk of a tree by cutting and burning operations; they are
all fitted with a sail, and some are very beautifully modeled.
The San Blas Indians are wonderful sailors and swimmers. A story I heard bears witness to
their aquatic prowess, for if it is not founded on fact, it is certainly born of fame.
A cayuka, manned by one Indian and loaded with a hundred coconuts, ran into a gale when on
the high sea between the San Blas country and Colon, and was capsized. The Indian reached
Colon in that cayuka, with ninety-nine coconuts for the market.