Caribbean Region of Colombia

Caribbean Region of Colombia

The Caribbean Region or Caribbean Coast Region is a natural region of Colombia mainly composed of eight Departments located contiguous to the Caribbean Sea. [ es icon MEMO: Natural Regions of Colombia] Accessed 22 August 2007.] The area covers a total land area of 132,288 km² including the San Andres Island in 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. []

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. [ [ Ecorregiones Estratégicas, Proceso de Concertación Nacional ] ]

Guajira Peninsula region

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.

ierra Nevada de Santa Marta region

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

main|Sinú River

Valley of the San Jorge

Administrative divisions within region

The Caribbean region is formed by the Departments of:

;partial territory pertaining to:

* Antioquia Department: in the Gulf of Urabá most of the territory of the subregion of Urabá Antioquia.
* Chocó Department: covering a small territory in the Gulf of Urabá. Chocó is the only Department of Colombia with coasts on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

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 black people. 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.


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.


Music and dances

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 []


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 is the sancocho made with sabalo fish (locally known as "bocachico") accompanied with Coconut rice. The soup is also prepared with the head of the Sabalo, yuca, plantain, coconut water, 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).


External links

*es icon [ Luis Angel Arango Library: Colombian Caribbean]

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