Kuna Yala, San Blas Archipelago, Caribbean Side of Panama


Although the origin of the Guna tribe is not certain, it is thought that they come from the north part of Colombia, most commonly known as the Darien area where small tribes of Gunas still remain to this day. Gunas reached the land we call San Blas a couple of centuries ago when they fled Colombia for unknown reasons.

Gunas have their own identity and by the most part do not consider themselves Panamanian, they defend their culture and heritage whenever possible and throughout your stay in San Blas you will have a taste of their unique culture.

Women like to wear their typical outfit at all times and take good care of their appearance.

An interesting fact is that Guna Yala in Kuna means "Land Guna" or "Guna Mountain". The area was formerly known as San Blas, and later as Kuna Yala, but the name was changed in October 2011 to "Guna Yala" when the Government of Panama accepted the claim of the people that "Guna" was a closer representation of the name in their mother tongue than "Kuna".

Guna Yala is politically subdivided into four corregimientos (districts), with a total of 51 comunidades (communities), most of which are located on islands of the San Blas Archipelago off the mainland coast. The islands we will most likely visit are around Dutch Cays, Coco Bandero Cays, Cayo Limon and the island closer to land like Cambombia, Franklin, etc.

These are some of the names of islands in Guna:

  • Wichupwala

  • Nalunega

  • Gorbisgi

  • Carti Mamidup

  • Uargandup

  • Ailidup

  • Orosdup

  • Mandi Ubgigandup

  • Arridup

  • Narasgandup Dummar or Big Orange

  • Narasgandup bipy or Orange Girl

  • Akwadup

  • Carti Sugdupu

  • Carti Mulatupu

  • Carti Yandup

  • Carti Tupile

  • Mirya Ubgigandup or Soledad Miria

  • Mormagedup or Machine Island

  • Mamardup

  • Urgandi

  • Nusadup

  • Uargandup or Sugar River

  • Yandup or Narganá

  • Agwanusadup or Corazon de Jesús (Heart of Jesus)

  • Digirad or Rio Tigre

  • Niadup or Ticantiquí

  • Maguebgandi

  • Nabagandi

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