SAN BLAS ISLANDS
The San Blas archipelago is located off the Caribbean coast, east of Colon, and is made up of 365 islands that range in size from tiny ones with a few coconut palms to islands on which hundreds of Kuna Indians live. Only about fifty are inhabited. The Kuna rule the San Blas Territory with internal autonomy, and have tightly preserved their language and cultural traditions over the centuries despite influences from European colonies. In addition to their own language, Spanish is widely spoken and many men work on the mainland, but live on the islands. Women wear costumes with unique designs based on local themes, geometric patterns, and stylised fauna and flora. The island of El Porvenir is one of the main seats of government for the Kuna Indians. Many Kunas from the other islands came to settle on El Porvenir, bringing with them their traditional arts and crafts, including the famous molas. These intricately hand-sewn designs are made by the women of the tribes as part of their blouses and dresses. With the increased tourism, molas are now a favoured souvenir and craft item for visitors.