Panama's Coiba Island (officially Isla Coiba) covers a total area of 503 km2 (194 ml2), ranking it the Central America's largest. It is located off the Pacific Ocean coast of the Panamian province Veraguas (Montijo District).
Isla Coiba was separated from the mainland around 12,000-18,000 years ago, following the rise of sea levels. Animals and plants on the new isle became isolated and over the millennia most of them diverged in appearance and behavior from their mainland counterparts. The island is home to a lot of endemic subspecies, among which howler monkey, common agouti, spinetail. Coiba is home to rare plant species that are found only there. It also harbors tree species which have long disappeared from mainland due to overharvesting and deforestation. Approx 3/4 of the island is forested with ancient forest. Coiba is also one of the last sites in Central America where scarlet macaw is found in the wild and in large numbers.
On the island used to live Coiba Cacique Indians until 1560 when they were conquered by the Spanish conquistadors and forced into slavery. A penal colony was built on the island in 1919. During the years when Panama was under Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega's dictatorships, the prison was a feared place with bad reputation for brutal conditions, political murder, extreme tortures and executions.
In 2004 the prison was closed and the island's pristine condition made it ideal as a reserve. In 1992 was officially declared the Coiba National Park. In July 2005, Unesco declared the park a "World Heritage Site". Due to all its diverse marine life, Coiba National Park is a perfect destination for snorkeling and scuba diving.