Nombre de Dios, Colón

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Nombre de Dios
Illustration of an imagined Nombre de Dios, from Peter Schenk's 1672 Hecatompolis
Nombre de Dios is located in Panama
Nombre de Dios
Nombre de Dios
Coordinates: 9°34′58.40″N 79°28′13.10″W / 9.5828889°N 79.4703056°W / 9.5828889; -79.4703056Coordinates: 9°34′58.40″N 79°28′13.10″W / 9.5828889°N 79.4703056°W / 9.5828889; -79.4703056
Country Panama
Province Colón Province
District Santa Isabel
Corregimiento Nombre de Dios
Time zone ETZ (UTC-5)

Nombre de Dios (Spanish: "Name of God") is a city on the Atlantic coast of Panama in the Colón Province. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1510 by Diego de Nicuesa, it was one of the first European settlements on the Isthmus of Panama.


Nombre de Dios is the oldest continually populated town in the Americas. Originally a major port of call for the Spanish treasure fleet, Nombre de Dios was the most significant port for shipping in the Americas between 1540 and 1580. After the opening of Potosí in 1546, Peruvian silver was shipped north to Panama City and carried by mule train across the isthmus to Nombre de Dios for shipment to Havana and Spain.[1] As Nombre de Dios was situated near an unhealthy swamp and was nearly impossible to fortify, it declined in importance. In June 1572 the English privateer Francis Drake sacked the colony and in April of the following year he ambushed the Spanish Silver Train, a mule convoy carrying a fortune in precious metals. Drake captured the town again in 1595 but found little treasure, thereby missing 5 million pesos waiting off the Pacific side. After that date the Spanish preferred to use Portobelo as a Caribbean port.[2]

By 1580, Veracruz in present-day Mexico became a more important port. Mexican silver production increased steadily while Peruvian production declined sharply after 1700. By 1600, Nombre de Dios had been all but abandoned by the Spanish. The town still exists, though it is much less populous than in the 16th century.


Nombre de Dios is mentioned by the poet Derek Walcott in The Prodigal:

Caravels slid over the horizon.

The flags of the sea-almonds wilted
and yard-smoke drifted, forked as Drake's beard,

sacker of Nombre de Dios.
The Prodigal (p. 46)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chaunus, Spain's Atlantic trade
  2. ^ Timothy R Walton,"The Spanish Treasure Fleets", 1974, page 103