A Panama hat is a brimmed straw hat that was first created in Ecuador in the mid-1800s. The straw used in construction of Panama hats is known as toquilla straw.
The name Panama hat comes from the fact that nearly all shipments of the hat passed from Ecuador through Panama on route to other countries. While in Panama the hat became popular among workers at the Panama Canal construction site where, in a nod to public policy, then Pres. Theodore Roosevelt decided to wear a Panama hat to show solidarity with the workers and expressed local flair. This of course caused the already popular hat to gain even more popularity and spread around the globe.
Panama hats are most commonly worn in hot weather along with other articles of hot weather clothing such as linen or silk close. Depending on the individual style of the wearer, Panama hats are sometimes worn with safari suits rather than the more common pith helmet.