Known as the Jipijapa plant, the toquilla or Panama hat palm (Carludovica palmata) comes from the Ecuadorian lowlands, named after a small village in the Province of Manabí. Besides the well-known hats, Jipijapa is used to make fans, earrings, bracelets and baskets, among other objects. Panama hats became world-famous during the construction of the Panama Canal, when thousands of hats were imported from Ecuador for workers and were worn by historical figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Eloy Alfaro, Napoleon III and Frank Sinatra.
In 2012, Jipijapa hat-weaving was added to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Countries like Mexico have given the hats new colors, textures and shapes. Several Mayan communities in the state of Campeche have been devoted to Jipijapa craftsmanship since 1800, when brothers Sixto and Pedro García introduced the plant to this country: after a long journey through Guatemala, they planted Jipijapas in the henequen-growing hacienda Santa Cruz, in the municipality of Calkiní.