Because of all the wealth that passed through the area of Portobelo, it became a favorite for pirates such as Captain Henry Morgan, Sir Francis Drake, and Admiral Edward Vernon of the British Empire. The last attack proved the vulnerability of the Spanish trading practices and devastated Portobelo’s economy, which did not rise again until the Panama Canal was build.
Now a days, Portobelo is a sleepy city with a population of less than 5,000. It has a deep natural harbor and has become an well known eco tourism and adventure tourism destination in Panama. In 1980 UNESCO declared the Portobelo and the nearby Fort of San Lorenzo a World Heritage Site.