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Caribbean Region of Colombia: Wikis


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The Caribbean Region of Colombia detailed in the dark red area with territorial waters.
Caribbean region of Colombia colored in tan and the other four Natural Regions of Colombia. Some sources often consider the insular region which is composed by the Colombian islands overseas from mainland Colombia, however these regions are still within the range of the region.

The Caribbean Region or Caribbean Coast Region is a natural region of Colombia mainly composed of eight Departments located contiguous to the Caribbean Sea.[1] The area covers a total land area of 132,288 km² including the San Andres Island Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalinain the Caribbean sea and corresponding to approximately 1/10 of the total territory of Colombia. The Caribbean region of Colombia is home to approximately 9 million people according to the Colombian Census 2005.[1]

The area is characterized for having a massif plain that extends from the Colombian Andean Mountain range, surrounds the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range and covers the Guajira Peninsula to border the Caribbean sea. In the western side of the region there is also a relative low altitude mountain range, the Montes de Maria which are also separate from the Andean mountain range. The Caribbean region is crossed by many rivers and contains one of the largest marshes in Colombia, the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta marsh among many others. The main river is the Magdalena River which is fully navigable in the region and a major path for the flow of shipments from and for inland Colombia. The Madgalena river has numerous sub basins within its basin.

The Caribbean region coast extends from the Gulf of Uraba to the Gulf of Venezuela with the main port cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena bordering it. The administration of the region is covered by eight department governments; Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, Magdalena, La Guajira and San Andrés y Providencia. These 8 departments also cover approximately 182 municipalities, 1093 corregimientos and 493 caserios according to the 2005 Census by DANE. Most of its inhabitants speak a dialect of Caribbean Spanish with variations within its subregions.


Geographical sub-regions

The Caribbean region contains 6 subregions which differ in certain natural aspects.[2]

Guajira Peninsula region

The Guajira Peninsula on the left of Gulf of Venezuela and south of the Caribbean sea. The peninsula is the northern most point of Colombia and South America.

The Guajira Peninsula is the most septentrional point of South America, also mostly desertic, only crossed by the Ranchería River with no other major water stream in the area, water is scarce. The Guajira is inhabited mostly by the wayuu ethnic group, mixed from Europeans, Indigenous and Black and also houses one of the largest population of Muslims in Colombia. La Guajira. The peninsula forms most of the territory of the La Guajira Department and is rich in mineral resources such as coal and natural gas. The region also contains a large reserve of salt near the town of Manaure. The largest city is Riohacha. Other points of interest in the area are Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region

the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as viewed from space.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range region rises isolated in the middle of the Caribbean Savanna and the Caribbean sea with a tetrahedral shape. The region presents a very rough terrain with mountain climate variations on its three faces; the northern area facing the Caribbean sea near the city of Santa Marta at sea level presents a semi-arid hot ecosystem. As the altitude increases vegetation increases and temperature drops. The vegetation becomes scarce once again at the páramo altitude terrains as temperature continues to drop. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has one of the highest peaks in Colombia, the Simón Bolívar peak at 5,775 meters (18,947 ft) above sea level contains glaciers. The area is shared by the Departments of Magdalena, Cesar and La Guajira.

Magdalena river mouth

The Magdalena river basin extends from the Andean region through the Magdalena river valley and crossing into the Caribbean region where major sub-basins integrate to form this sub-region. The region constitute a very rich ecosystem for numerous fauna and flora species as well as a fertile ground for human subsistence agriculture and livestock raising. The river flows into the Caribbean sea were the port city of Barranquilla is located by the mouth. It is also the largest and most populous city in the Caribbean region.

Caribbean savanna

Valley of the Sinú River

Valley of the San Jorge

Administrative divisions within region

View of Barranquilla's skyline, the Magdalena river flowing into the Caribbean sea in the background. Barranquilla is Considered the capital of the Colombian Caribbean

The Caribbean region is formed by the Departments of:

Department Capital
partial territory pertaining to

Protected areas in the Caribbean region

Parque Nacional Natural corales del Rosario y San Bernardo
Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
Tayrona National Natural Park
Parque Nacional Natural Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Parque Nacional Natural Macuira
Santuario de Fauna y Flora los Colorados
Flamingos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
El Corchal Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
Island of Salamanca Park Way


The predominant ethnic group in the region is the mestizo, a mixture of white people of European descent, mainly Spanish, the indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian. The region also presented human immigration coming from Europe and the Middle East mostly from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey during the early 20th Century which was followed by a second wave during World War II. Most of the immigrants settled in the main urban centers or trade port towns such as in Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Sincelejo, Mompox, El Banco, etc. The two most populated indigenous ethnic groups are the wayuu in the Guajira Peninsula and the Arhuacos, Koguis and Arsarios. Black population is mostly concentrated near Cartagena predominantly in the town of San Basilio de Palenque which was proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO for preserving its African heritage.

There are 9.746.886 inhabitants in the colombian Caribbean Region of Colombia in 2010, with a population density of 73.71 inhabitants per square kilometers. According with Dane population projection there will be 10.441.463 in 2015 and 11.142.852 in 2020.

The principal metropolitan area is Barranquilla Metropolitan Area with 1.836.331 inhabitants.

# Departamento Población (hab.) Capital
1 Atlántico 2'314.447 Barranquilla
2 Bolívar 1'979.781 Cartagena de Indias
3 Cesar Department 966.420 Valledupar
4 Córdoba 1'582.187 Montería
5 La Guajira Department 818.695 Riohacha
6 Magdalena 1'201.386 Santa Marta
7 San Andrés y Providencia 73.320 San Andrés
8 Sucre 810.650 Sincelejo
Caribbean Region (Colombia) 9'750.364


The economy of the Caribbean region is based mainly in the exploitation of natural resources such coal and natural gas, salt, agricultural products mainly bananas, coffee and oil palm, cotton, tropical fruits among many other products, livestock raising which is practiced extensively in almost all the territory, in Córdoba, Sucre, Atlántico, Magdalena, Bolívar, Cesar and southern La Guajira. There is also a service industry and a local import-export industry mainly in the ports of Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. Another major part of the economy is tourism, which concentrates also in Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta along with San Andres and Providencia Islands.


Known for its peacefulness and easygoing demeanor, the inhabitants from the region enjoy a warm climate and a clean and calm seaboard which is the main pillar of their identity. The men and women of the region are festive, easygoing and very peaceful, often choosing to ignore or refuse confrontation whilst keeping a healthy attitude of debate and passionate argumentation without violence. However, the region is known for giving the country its most prominent fighters and also for harboring some communities which pursue human excellence through the academic and physical endeavors and undertakings. The inhabitants are also hard-working and the cities are very festive but also very committed to progress and development in several areas, particularly educational ones as the interest of the latest administrations has been to develop technology and science as a tool for increased productivity and sustenance as well as economical development and progress.

It has been always a basis of the culture the cultivation of intellectual traits and virtues. It is why taxicab drivers are known to be well-versed in many religious and/or philosophical themes and topics and why people can easily start conversations with strangers on a waiting line to debate topics that can range from politics to science, a particular point of interest to the city and especially to the last generations who are avid readers of scientific material which has propelled the social and cultural development through academia and intellectual activities. The city is known to many for this and it is said that "even the poorest man in the city is rich in wisdom in the country" for this cultural trait.


Like in the rest of Colombia, Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the zone, with teams like Junior of Barranquilla, Real Cartagena and Union Magdalena competing in the first and second divisions of the country. The Caribbean region has been the home of succeful Soccer players, many of them world famous like Carlos Valderrama and Radamel Falcao.

Unlike in rest of the country and shared with Venezuela, Baseball is an important sport in the region, although its popularity has been fading in the last few years. Nevertheless, the region has produced major league players like Edgar Rentería and Orlando Cabrera.

The region also is known for its love of combat sports. Boxing is a popular sport in certain zone and the region had produced many world champions like Miguel "Happy" Lora.

Music and dances

Monument to the dance and music of cumbia.
The Sombrero Vueltiao is the most representative element of the Caribbean region of Colombia, it was later adopted as a symbol of the national identity of Colombia.

The most popular local rhythms are the cumbia and vallenato however, there is a great musical influence from the rest of the Caribbean nations with Salsa, merengue, more recently reggaeton and many Afro-Caribbean rhythms. This influence also developed the Champeta which has similarities with reggaeton. Other genres include porro.

Traditional dances are mostly of Afro-Colombian origin with the influence in cumbia and the mapalé.

Myths and legends

The Caribbean region has a rich tradition of myths and legeds that include La Llorona, El Hombre Caimán, La Ciguapa, the Vallenato Legend, La Madre Monte, El Simborcito, la Mojana Legend, El Lucio, etc [2]


The most popular and known celebration in the Caribbean region is the Carnival of Barranquilla celebrated every year in February. The Miss Colombia Pageant in Cartagena, the Vallenato Legend Festival in Valledupar, Feast of the Sea in Santa Marta and the Corralejas Festivities in Sincelejo.


The typical food of the Caribbean region varies according to the geographical location in the sabanas the typical meal is the sancocho made with rabo (cow's tale) and accompanied with Coconut rice. In the coast the typical meal is fish some times fried or sometimes cooked in coconut milk , a popular soup is also prepared with the head of the Sabalo, yuca, plantain, coconut milk, lime and salt. The arepa is also a popular dish with numerous variations like arepa limpia (plain arepa), arepa e' queso (arepa with cheese) and arepa e'huevo (arepa with egg.


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