A Panama hat or shawl straw hat (or just Panama or Panama hat) is a traditional brimmed hat that is made of braided palm leaf straw hat–scarf (Carludovica palmata). Despite the name, the hat originates and is made in Ecuador, not Panama. Its name comes from the fact that reached significance during the construction of the Panama Canal when thousands of hats were imported from Ecuador and used by the workers building the canal. When Theodore Roosevelt visited the channel, he used this hat and that increased its popularity.
The Ecuadorian city of Cuenca is the main producer, but Canton Montecristi has the reputation of producing the finest quality hats.
Glorified during the nineteenth century, the Panama has since been considered the prince of straw hats. The national hero and emblematic figure, Eloy Alfaro helped finance his liberal revolution of Ecuador through the export of “panama”. The reputation of the hat was established by Napoleon III, Edward VII, and some other fans.
Traditional weaving Ecuadorian straw hat scarf was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on 6 December 2012