Capital (called “cabecera” among locals) of the province of Veraguas, Santiago and officially known as ¨Santiago de Veraguas,¨ Santiago is located about 3 hours outside of Panama City on a straight-shot along the Pan-American highway. Santiago is known as the area´s banking center and is supported by agriculture (corn, rice, sugarcane, plantains), livestock and timber (cabinet-making and construction). Coming from the Costa Rican border, the city is a popular pit stop on the way to and from Chiriquí, as well as to and from Isla Coiba, the Santa Fé highland, and Playa Santa Catalina.
Buildings such as the Escuela Normal Juan Demóstenes Arosemena (a secondary education school from which elementary school teachers graduate) and the Central Plaza´s Catedral Santiago Apóstol (home to an annual July 25 festival celebrating the city´s patron saint with parades, pilgrimages and folkloric traditions) reveal the colonial construction and foundational roots of the city. With a slowly growing tourist industry, the Regional Museum of Veraguas is worth a visit as well as La Peña Craft Market. Santiago remains quaint and rustic with its´ friendly locals, and the national parks and province´s beaches highlight the rural beauty of the region.