Welcome to Colón
On the city's edge, the Zona Libre de Colón (Colón Free Zone) was created in 1948. It generates some US$6.5 billion in annual commerce, but little benefit seems to trickle down to local inhabitants. From up close, it's an island of materialism floating in a sea of unemployment and poverty.
Recent improvements in city safety are attributed to tighter gang control. There is also a much ballyhooed – but barely visible – urban restoration plan, kicked off in 2014. One major improvement: the Autopista Panamá–Colón is now a four-lane highway.