The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the infrastructure and economy.Of particular note are the improvements in health and sanitation brought about by the American presence in the Canal Zone. William Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer for the canal construction, had a particularly large impact.The city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru.It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent, leading to the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, through which passed most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas.Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, providing it with the water required for its operation.Due to the canal's importance to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state; the canal is thus a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of a forest that helped to preserve that forest.The city of Panama remains a banking center, although with very visible controls in the flow of cash.Shipping is handled through port facilities in the area of Balboa operated by the Hutchison Whampoa Company of Hong Kong and through several ports on the Caribbean side of the isthmus.
It was rebuilt in 1673 in a new location approximately 5 miles (8 km) southwest of the original city.Along the western side of the canal is the Parque Nacional Soberanía (Sovereignty National Park), which includes the Summit botanical gardens and a zoo.The best known trail in this national park is Pipeline Road, popular among birdwatchers. Most are unnavigable; many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas.Panamanians had limited access, or no access at all, to many areas in the Canal Zone neighboring the Panama city metropolitan area.Some of these areas were military bases accessible only to United States personnel. This erupted in the January 9, 1964 events, known as Martyrs' Day.Panama's Tocumen International Airport, offers daily flights to major international destinations.The city of Panama was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila.The city is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of Panama.The city is the political and administrative center of the country, as well as a hub for banking and commerce.On January 28, 1671, the original city (see Panamá Viejo) was destroyed by a fire when privateer Henry Morgan sacked and set fire to it.The city was formally reestablished two years later on January 21, 1673, on a peninsula located 8 km (5 miles) from the original settlement.