Our News

What main languages are spoken here?:

Although Spanish is the main language spoken in Panama, English is spoken just about as much as Spanish on Barro Colorado Island. This is because scientists come from all over the world to work on the island. I've met people from as far as Denmark, and not all of them speak Spanish. Most of the scientists from Spanish-speaking countries like Colombia, Costa Rica and Chile also speak English, so they often have conversations at dinner in English so that everyone can be included.

What type of money is used here?:

The balboa is the Panamanian currency, which is equal to the United States dollar. On the island, though, there's very little cash exchanged. All of our meals are paid for with a special dining card, and there isn't much to buy on the island. The only place I have used money on Barro Colorado Island is in the soda machine in the lounge. Relaxing scientists can buy a cold Coca-Cola, Fresca (a lime-grapefruit-flavored soda) or ginger ale for one balboa from the machine.

How much does a bottle of water cost?:

We don't buy bottled water on the island. Instead, we fill up our own bottles from water coolers in the dining hall, laboratories and lounge. The tap water is recycled, since it's hard to get fresh water out to a remote island, so we can't drink it.