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How long have Native American peoples lived on the Isthmus of Panama?
All Native American peoples in Central and South America descend from Northeast Asians who travelled down the Pacific Coast 20,000-15,000 years ago, settling in Chile by 14,500 years ago.
If migrants travelled along the coast, their camps in Panama were submerged as sea levels rose when the last ice age was ending, leaving no trace.
Nor did humans make any impact on forests near La Yeguada (Veraguas) until 13,200 years ago when clearing and burning began. At this time Clovis hunters camped at the Vampiros rock shelter (Coclé) and made Clovis stone spear points and hide scrapers at nearby Sarigua (Herrera). They probably hunted mastodons and giant ground sloths.
By 6000 years ago maize, manioc and squash had arrived from their respective domestication centers in Mexico and South America. Farming expanded and settlements became larger and more permanent.
Panama’s seven Native American peoples descend from earlier populations living on or near the Isthmus for thousands of years. Eighty percent of modern Panamanians have a Native American woman as their original female ancestor.
For more information see the complete article by staff scientist Richard Cooke: How long have Native Americans lived in Panama?