- Last Updated on 19 July 2013
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Portobelo in the province of Colón in Panama disposes of a natural, deep port. It is a small town of minor economic importance,
whose 3000 inhabitants are mainly living on cattle-breeding and fishing. In former times it represented the largest Spanish seaport in Central America and was founded in 1597 by Francisco Velarde y Mercado, a Spanish discoverer. As told by a legend, Sir Francis Drake died from dysentery in the year 1596 and was – put in a coffin made of plumb - sunk into the sea near to Portobelo Bay. Porobelo was destroyed several times in the course of repeated attacks. It is notable that ruins of the colonial fortification can still be visited – they were declared world cultural heritage in 1980. In June 2012 the UNESCO was brought to put these ruins and the near Fort San Lorenzo on the list of the world cultural heritage due to ecological factors and insufficient maintenance. The waters around Portobelo accommodate 16 large dive sites and numerous sunken treasures, among them a twin-engine plane (type C-45) and a 110 m long freighter. A great attraction for divers! Once a year the town becomes very lively and overcrowded; it almost bursts at the seams on 21st October when the Festival de Cristo Negro (festival of black Christ) is celebrated.