Feb. 20, 2014, Pearl Islands, Panama: Panama's Pearl Islands, location for two seasons of “Survivor,” offer quintessential island escape and have attracted the global jet-set, including John Wayne, Mickey Rooney, Julio Iglesias, and Joe DiMaggio, for decades.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
The currency of Panama is called the Balboa. It's worth exactly a dollar, making Panama's a dollar economy. The country uses U.S. bills, but mints its own coins, which show a picture of a guy in a tin hat: Vasco Nuñez Balboa.
Balboa played a big part in the history of Panama, especially in the history of an archipelago of islands that lie just offshore Panama City. He discovered and named these Pearl Islands, claiming the dollops of land and their riches in the name of King Ferdinand of Spain. In a letter to his king, Balboa wrote, “There are many islands in this sea. They tell me that there are pearls in abundance, of great size, and that the natives possess baskets filled with them.”
For two centuries, Las Perlas played a pivotal role in Spain's “dash for cash” in the New World. The islands became the Pacific hub for gold and silver to be shipped back to Spain. The loot was assayed and counted on one of these Pearl Islands in particular, the island that became known as Contadora (the counting-house).