History + Maps

Map of Islas Secas Resort download

Map of Islas Secas Island download

Map of Island Diving Spots download

Natural History

Based on available information, it is speculated that the volcanic islands of the Gulf of ChiriquÌ, including the Secas Archipelago, were at one time connected to the mainland during the last glaciations, some 11,000 to 18,000 years ago. Read More

The Isthmus of Panama was far broader then than it is today. During this period the polar ice caps melted and sea levels rose, the ocean advanced and separated the islands from the mainland.Of all the spectacular natural resources of these islands, pearls were the most significant commercial asset. The oyster beds yielded some of the most striking pearls found along the Pacific coast. The fascinating history of pearl diving in the region is intimately linked to the development and history of the principal provinces, Veragua and later ChiriquÌ. Gripping tales passed down through generations spoke of the mortal danger of the sea, marine life, and the souls of dead divers wandering the land after losing their lives in search of the "Tears of the Sea".

Anthropological History

It is believed that the natives of ChiriquÌ inhabited the islands from 100 BC. Evidence from archeological digs in the highlands region of the mainland in the early 1970s unearthed pottery shards and artifacts dated to this time, Read More

and similar artifacts have been discovered during other archeological investigations on the islands.


Some natives called the region "Chireque", which means "Meeting of High Mountains"; others, "Cheriqui", Valley of the Moon. These local Indian tribes, the ChiriquÌ, Varela, Burica and Osa, were renowned as fierce warriors, who reputedly collected the heads of rival tribal members, using the skulls as drinking vessels.

In 1519 Gaspar de Espinosa explored the region. In 1522 a contingent of Spanish soldiers was sent from Panama to populate the area. Captain Benito Hurtado, who was in charge at this time, organized meetings with the local tribal leaders in an attempt to make peace between the rival tribal groups, meetings which proved successful.

In 1557, the Spanish established the mainland communities of Remedios, Alanje, David, San Felix and San Lorenzo, all of which were developed on the sites of ancient Indian villages. Centuries before, the Indians had established routes known as "Caminos" between these villages. During the Colonial era these ancient "Caminos" were adopted by the Spanish and became some of the most active commercial trade routes between Panama and the rest of Central America.

ChiriquÌ was part of the province of Veragua during the first years of the Union of Colombia; its name was Canton de Alanje. On May 26, 1849, the province of ChiriquÌ was created. Today, the Indians have their own official reservation, the Comarca Ngobe Bugle, lands that rise sharply from the Pacific coast to spectacular highlands, then plunge down to the densely forested coasts of the Caribbean.

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