Prehispanic history

A migration of indigenous Americans from the Bering Straight to Patagonia brought the first humans to the isthmus. The earliest evidence of an existance of humans in Panama date to approximately 11000 BC.

There exist many theories and legends, like "Donkin Kri" about the origin of the Ngobe and Bugle peoples.


The arrival of the Europeans

1501: Rodrigo Galván de Bastidas is the first European to visit the coast of the Istmus of Panama.

1513: Vasco Núñez de Balboa disvovered the "Sea of the South" (Pacific Ocean)

In the territory that today is the Republic of Panama, there were many more indigenous groups than exist today. However, as a result of contact with the colonialists, many were eradicated by various causes.

The Spanish conquistidors were interested in discovering valuable minerals and a route to India, and so at first did not take a great notice of the Ngöbe y Buglé, who for the most part occupied the western part of the country.


Expulsion and Extermination

The Buglé in habited a part or all of what are now the Provinces of Veraguas, Herrera, Los Santos and Coclé.
In the following centuries, the Buglé, originally more numberous than the Ngöbe, repeatedly confronted the invasions of the Spanish under the leadership of the pround chiefs like the legendary Urraca.

These wars, however, reduced the population and ther political power, and so they retreated to the mountains of Veraguas.

The Ngöbe lived in the fertile plains of the Pacific to the Carribean shore until the 1930's, and did not confront the Spanish as much as the Bugle did, but were still subject to the forces of colonialization. They were displaced from their ancestrial land to the isolated mountains of the Central Cordillera by multinational banana companies and land holders.

Throughout the ceturies, the Ngobe and Bugle have held traditional beliefs, and many have also converted to Christianity and Bah'ai. In the 20th century a Ngobe woman called Besiko (pronounced bessie GO) led a new religous revolution that brought about the establishment of a religion based on combining Ngobe traditions and Christianity. More on Besiko.

The Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca

The Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca (autonomous region) is a product of the efforts of diligent people who fought for more than 40 years to have the Comarca established. What finally brought about the comarca were hunger strikes and a protest where people walked 400km to the capitol. And so the Law 10 of March 7, 1997, establishing the Comarca was signed in front of more than 10,000 people in the historic community of Kankintu.


Panamanian President Dr. Ernesto Balladares and the Minister Raúl Montenegro sign the law establishing the Comarca