The waistline of the Americas, Panama is also th crucial connection. Its 80km belt of locks brings the Atlantic to the Pacific, wedding east to west in global commerce. The canal has defined Panama in the last century. But what lies just beyond could define the next. Pristine beaches, lush rainforest and big city nightlife give a taste of the country’s outstanding assets. Paradoxes are plenty – the US legacy means that English is widely spoken, yet one hour outside the city, indigenous Embera paddle dugout canoes. The Panama Canal expansion will mean even more business than usual. But for now, you can pick an empty islet and play Survivor for the day.