Azuero Peninsula (Península de Azuero) is a large peninsula in southern Panama, at . It is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean in the south and west and by the Gulf of Panama in the east.
The Azuero Peninsula is known for baseball and is also a center of activity during the annual 'carnaval' (carnival), with Las Tablas being the hub. Pedasi is a small fishing town famous for world-class sport fishing and the hometown of former (and first female) president Mireya Moscoso. She has a vacation home in the area known as Punta Mala.
Tourism has begun to increase in the area both for the aforementioned sport fishing, surfing in Playa Venado and for the local charm of cities like Chitré, Las Tablas and Pedasi. Due to a rise in tourism, real estate development has begun. The area also enjoys some of the best weather in Panama being in a region known as the "Arco Seco" (dry arc).
Azuero is divided into three provinces, Herrera
, Los Santos
(which are entirely on the peninsula), and Veraguas
which extends into it on the west side of the peninsula. Most of the people live on the east coastal region. The southern tip and western area (the Veraguas area) is sparsely populated. The largest towns are Chitré
, the capital of Herrera, and Las Tablas
. The main road in the Azuero peninsula connects to the Pan-American Highway
and runs south along the eastern side of the peninsula.
The Azuero region was one of the first parts of panama to be settled by indians, and the area in the north of the peninsula was cultivated thousands of years before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Its long history of cultivation and grazing has had a negative impact on the environment, resulting in what is sometimes called the Sarigua
desert in the northeastern area of the peninsula, even though it is not technically a desert. Along the coast there are areas of mangroves
and just inland is a dry coastal forest called Albina
. Much of the land has been cleared for cultivation or grazing.
In the extreme south, Cerro Hoya is a national park and home of most of the remaining jungle habitat in the Azuero region. Isla Canas, a coastal island connected via a sandbar to the peninsula, is used by a large number of sea turtles to lay their eggs each year.