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Boquete is a small town on the Caldera River, in the green mountain highlands of Panama, in western-most Chiriquí Province, about 60 km. from the border with Costa Rica. Because of its altitude, some 1,200 metres above sea level, its climate is cooler than that of the lowlands. Its scenic location, temperature, and natural environment make it extremely popular with Panamanians and attracts tourists from all over the world.
In Spanish, the word Boquete means 'gap or opening'. It was through this gap that curious gold seekers trekked, looking for a cheaper and quicker way to the Pacific. Farmers began settling the region near the end of the nineteenth Century. By the early twentieth century, several villages had been populated: Lino, Quiel, Bajo Mono, Los Naranjos, and Bajo Boquete, which now is the town center of the district.
Boquete was founded on April 11, 1911. Initially, the head of the district was Lino, but it was moved soon after to Bajo Boquete. For many years, the district had three "corregimientos" (townships): Bajo Boquete, Caldera, and Palmira. In 1998, the "corregimientos" of Alto Boquete, Jaramillo, and Los Naranjos were created.
Boquete boasts a very lively music and arts scene. The annual Boquete Jazz Festival was founded in 2007 being the second largest jazz festival in the country after the Panama City Jazz Festival. Having been renamed Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival, the 2012 festival took place on the first weekend of March.
In separate action, a group of expatriates in Boquete came together in 2005 to form a performing theater group, which was named Boquete Community Players (BCP). BCP was formalized legally in 2007 through the creation of a nonprofit foundation. It became the first performance venue in the community in November 2009, when BCP held its grand opening of a refurbished restaurant and bar in the center of Boquete alongside the Caldera River. The mission of BCP is to sponsor, produce, and promote artistic events to enhance appreciation for and understanding of the arts, and to promote a cohesive sense of community.
Some of its landmarks include nearby Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano and, at 3,475 meters, the tallest point of land in Panama. Hikers enjoy a relatively easy hike up and over the volcano, along the Sendero de los Quetzales, which runs from Boquete up to Cerro Punta and Volcan, on the other side of the volcano.
The Caldera River runs through the town. It is a river that has shaped much of its form.
The district of Boquete has approximately 19,000 inhabitants (2008). Recently, Boquete has become the second home to many North American and European retirees. Some 14% of its population are of foreign origin, according to La Prensa, a national newspaper. Ex-pats are attracted by the comfortable climate, excellent potable water, and clean air, as well as by the tranquility and Panama's relatively low cost of living.
There is a large community of ex pats in Boquete; according to La Contraloria General de la Nacion, the government institution in charge of the census, there are over 3,000 foreigners permanently living in Boquete, from over 30 different countries. Although Americans and Canadians comprise the majority of ex pats, there is also a large group of immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela, and the third largest group of immigrants are from European countries. This increase in immigrants has stimulated the growth of new industries and business, owned both by locals and foreigners. The most relevant industry is the hotel industry; there are currently over 50 accommodations in Boquete, ranging from 5 star resorts to backpacker's motels. Along with hotels, many new restaurants have opened in Boquete. The high season that starts on November 1 and runs until April 30th. Several other businesses oriented to serve tourists have flourished in Boquete: golf, river rafting, trekking and hiking, canopy tours, biking and many other outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. Another main activity that has exponentially grown in Boquete is the real estate industry. Close to 20 agencies both local and international have found fertile soil in Boquete. Boquete has become a paradisaic destination for million dollar listings for those looking for high-end luxury places and mountain living.