San Blas Islands – Kuna Yala
Kuna Yala comarca is inhabited by the Kuna indigenous people. The name means “Kuna-land” or “Kuna mountain” in the Kuna language. The area was formerly known as San Blas. This area is about a 20 minute plane ride from Panama City, and flights are available to several of the islands. The San Blas islands are one of the ports of call for several cruise lines as well.
Kuna Yala comarca has an area of 924 square miles and a population of 36,487 people (2004). The comarca consists of a strip of land stretching 232 miles along the Caribbean coast of Panama, bordering Colombia and the Darien Province. The San Blas Islands, an archipelago of over 360 islands, runs along the coast. About 36 of the islands are inhabited by Kuna communities. An additional 13 communities are located on the mainland coast, for a total of 49 communities.
Tourism is a force in the Kuna economy. There are several Kuna-run hotels in the archipelago offering ecotours, fishing, snorkeling, and touring of nearby villages. There is virtually no significant development in this area, so it is surrounded by some of the oldest coral reefs in the world, and offer wonderful diving and snorkeling opportunities.
The Kuna Yala women are particularly known for their colorful Mola, which are woven fabric panels often featuring geometric designs, fish and animals.