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Panama

Bocas Del Toro, Panama‘s top resort, is accessed by car using a ferry named after Palanga, the top Lithuanian resort, o an another ferry named „Baltija“ (Lithuanian language word for the „Baltic (sea)“). In fact, the entire ferry service and wharfs are marked on some maps as „Ferry Palanga“.

Ferry Palanga

Ferry Palanga

Behind this is a rather unique history about how Lithuanian ferries effectively transformed the entire province, making it accessible.

Until 1990, the entire Bocas Del Toro province of Panama was inaccessible by cars and trucks from the remainder of Panama, as there was no road. The only way to access it was through Costa Rica, which took some two days (border crossings included). In 1990, this changed, as Panamanians acquired the „Palanga“ ferry from Lithuania. This ferry, built in Klaipėda in 1987, originally was used to connect Klaipėda to Smiltynė, some 15 minutes run. In Panama, it got a very different mission: a 4 hour run from Chiriqui Grande to Almirante (in Bocas Del Toro), sailing parallel to the coast where there was no road.

Advertisement for Palanga ferry at the entrance of Almirante town

Advertisement for Palanga ferry at the entrance of Almirante town

In 2000, however, such a road connecting Almirante to the rest of Panama was built but „Palanga“ was neither retired nor sold: instead, it was relocated to connect Almirante with the Bocas Del Toro town (provincial capital) that stands on an island. The run takes 2 hours and one ship does just a single run per day.

In 2010, when an additional ferry was needed for this mission, Panamanians turned to Lithuanians again, buying Palanga‘s sister ship Baltija, which was being replaced in Lithuania by a new Bulgarian-built ship. Uniquelly, neither Palanga nor Baltija was renamed (something that is usually done by new owners), retaining their Lithuanian names.

Ferry Baltija in Almirante

Ferry Baltija in Almirante

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