Costa Rica & Panamá Reading List

These resources are suggested to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the history, unique culture, wilderness, and wildlife of Costa Rica & Panamá:

Panamá Canal

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panamá Canal, 1870-1914 - by David McCullough
The complex, epic construction is illuminated in this detailed history from world events that inspired the idea of a canal to the people who executed the plans and moved earth to build it.

Panamá Fever: The Epic Story of the Building of the Panamá Canal - by Matthew Parker
The construction of the Canal is brought to life through stories of the people involved, from the laborers in the field, to engineers and politicians who were instrumental in developing the project.

Global Passage: Transformation of Panamá and the Panamá Canal - by Robert R McMillan
First-hand experience and impressive research by a former Canal Commission Chairman provides depth into the history of the canal as well as insight into what’s to come.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica - by Les Beletsky
An in-depth natural guide, this book offers detailed information and photographs for help identifying flora and fauna, as well as informative and interesting descriptions of the country’s ecosystems.

Costa Rica Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species - by James Kavanagh and Raymond Leung
A back-pocket companion covering many of Costa Rica’s creatures from basilisks and three-toed sloths to armadillos and roseate spoonbills. Color drawings of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies help with quick and easy identification.

Panamá Guides

The Birds of Panama: A Field Guild - by George R Angehr and Robert Dean
This portable illustrated guide is a thorough tool with 900 species of birds found in Panamá along with habits, habitats, and identification information.

Reef Fish Identification: Baja To Panamá - by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach
Photographs, descriptions of marine life, and notes on behavior illuminate the underwater world, including a special section on whales and dolphins.

The Darien Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panamá - by Martin Mitchinson
Modern day explorer and writer, Mitchinson arrived in Darien by sailboat and attempted to retrace the path of 16th century conquistador Vasco Balboa across the rough, rugged gap to the Pacific Ocean.


Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora - Willow Zuchowski
From coastal mangroves to high cloud forests, this guide details characteristics of individual plants, their uses, cultural or historical significance and role within the ecosystem. Color photos make identification easy.

Monkeys are made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica - by Jack Ewing
Through his many experiences and keen observations, Ewing spins a captivating web of stories that highlight the close connections between all living creatures and plants in Costa Rica’s jungles. Magical storytelling puts these remarkable ecosystems in a new, fascinating light.

The Panamá Hat Trail - by Tom Miller
Follow the audacious and unexpected journey of a single Panamá hat, from its initial weaving to the final marketing and selling of it. Its a unique, humorous, and captivating journey.

Getting to Know the General - by Graham Greene
Late in his life, Graham Greene wrote about his experiences of being invited to Panama by Omar Torrijos, who ruled the country from the mid-1960s to 1981. Greene’s multi-year experience with Torrijos and his most trusted guards, Chuchu is full of rich character and intrigue.

Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion - by By Barbara Ras and Oscar Arias
Twenty-six short stories written by some of Costa Rica’s most talented writers provide unique insight into the lives of Tico’s in all the regions of the country. While fictional, each vignette offers an insider’s perspective of the color and vibrancy of the country.