Valle del Cauca Department

Valle del Cauca Department
Department of Valle del Cauca
Departamento del Valle del Cauca
—  Department  —


Coat of arms
Valle del Cauca shown in red
Coordinates: 3°25′N 76°31′W / 3.417°N 76.517°W / 3.417; -76.517Coordinates: 3°25′N 76°31′W / 3.417°N 76.517°W / 3.417; -76.517
Country  Colombia
Region Andean Region/Pacific Region
Established 16 April 1910
Capital Cali
 – Governor Francisco Lourido (List of political parties in Colombia)
 – Total 22,140 km2 (8,548.3 sq mi)
Area rank 23
Population (2005)[1]
 – Total 4,060,196
 – Rank 3
 – Density 183.4/km2 (475/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-05
ISO 3166 code CO-VAC
Municipalities 42

Valle del Cauca (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbaʎe ðel ˈkauka]) is a department of Colombia. It is in the western side of the country, facing the Pacific Ocean, and it is considered one of the most important departments in the Republic of Colombia. Its capital is Santiago de Cali. Given its privileged location, lately it has been considered as the Pacific Door of Colombia. Besides Cali such cities as Buenaventura, Cartago and Tulua have great economical, political, social and cultural influence on the department's life. Valle del Cauca has the largest number of independent towns (i.e. not in Metropolitan areas) with over 100,000 inhabitants in the country, counting 6 within its borders.[2] Buenaventura has the largest and busiest seaport in Colombia, moving about 8,500,000 tons of merchandises.[3]



Ilama Culture location (1500 BC-0)
Location of the Yotoco Culture (0–1200 BC)
Late Period I location (600-1300)
Late Period II location (1400–1600)


Hunter gatherer societies

Palinological analysis performed by experts have determined that during the Superior Pleistocene some (40,000 – 10,500 years ago), the valleys of "El Dorado" and "Alto Calima" had Andean forest and Sub Andean vegetation. The discovery of projectiles indicated that there were communities of hunter-gatherers to the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene.The extinguishing of the Pleistocenic megafauna in the beginning of the Holocene pushes humans to adapt to their new environment, making them turn into hunter-gatherers. In the lower basin of the Calima River (Sauzalito River, El Recreo River and El Pital River) archaeologists found the oldest hunter-gatherers vestiges that inhabited the Valley of the Cauca River. According to these, in 5000 BC these societies already had some level of primitive agriculture and cultivated maize. There is little information about the years between 3000 and 1500 ABC.

Agricultural-Pottery societies (1500 BC – 600 AD)

In 1500 BC the first Agricultural-Pottery society appears extending along the Calima River (in what is nowadays the towns of Restrepo and Darien called Ilama Culture. Its society had a social structure of Cacicazgos (chiefdoms) that prevailed until the arrival of the Spaniards. The economy of Ilama was based in migratory agriculture using maize, yuca, beans, hunting, fishing, textile confectioning and metallurgy. The Chief or "Cacique" was the head of the settlement and also had "chamanes" (spiritual leaders), warriors, farmers, hunters, pottery men, and goldsmiths. By 100 AD the Ilamas had developed into the Yotoco Culture which expanded the region of the Ilamas further into the Cauca River and the Pacific Ocean and to the south to the region of what is now the city of Cali.

The Yotocos prevailed in the region until 1200 AD and were a highly stratified society headed by caciques which managed several settlements. The population had increased, forcing them to develop effective agricultural techniques to feed its population which also improved the techniques on pottery and metal works. The agriculture of the Yotocos was more varied than that of the Ilamas and was based on maize, yuca, beans, arracacha, achiote among others. The Yotoco started declining in the 6th century AD.

Agricultural-pottery in Pre Columbia era (600–1600)

This archeological period is called Late and is divided into Late Period I (6th to 13th centuries) and Late Period II (14th to 16th Centuries). In the Late period I the region of Valle del Cauca was inhabited by the Early Sonso Culture, Bolo, Sachamate and La Llanada. During the Late Period II the region was inhabited by the Late Sonso Culture, Pichinde, Buga and Quebrada Seca. Their development is attributed to the growth of population and the almost all the settlers in the area became subject to the rule of one main Cacique.

"Discovery" by Spaniards and Conquest

The first Spanish 67 explorers arrived in the area after founding the village of Popayán in an expedition that came from Quito and was headed by Sebastián de Belalcázar. In the Valle del Cauca the explorers founded the village of Villa de Ampudia named after one of them called Juan de Ampudia. By orders of Belalcazar the village is then moved to the Riviera of the Cauca River within the Gorrones Indigenous peoples territory. In 1536 a Captain last named Muñoz orders the city to be moved to the Valley were the Village of Cali was founded on 25 July of that same year. Another Spanish explorer coming from the village of Cartagena de Indias named Juan de Vadillo commanded a second group of explorers and entered Cali on 23 December 1538, but he returned to Cartagena leaving many of his men behind including Pedro Cieza de León 1967. A third group of explorers led by Almirant Jorge Robledo under orders of Lorenzo de Aldana advanced to the North of the Valle del Cauca and founded the villages of Anserma (now part of Caldas Department) on 15 August 1539; Cartago on 9 August 1540 and the village of Antioquia on 25 November 1541 and under command of Pascual de Andagoya who arrived from Panama to Cali with a fourth group of explorers.

Department of Valle del Cauca

The Department of Valle del Cauca was created by decree number 340 April 16, 1910 which also created 12 other departments for Colombia. The Valle del Cauca Department was a result of the union of four former departments; Cartago, Buga, and Cali.


The department of Valle del Cauca is located on the western part of the country, between 3° 05’ and 5° 01’ latitude N, 75° 42’ and 77° 33’ longitude W. Its limits to the north border the departments of Risaralda and Quindío, the department of Cauca to the south, Tolima to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west as well as the department Chocó. The valley is geographically limited by the Central and Western mountain ranges and is 'bathed' by numerous rivers which empty into the Cauca River. The department is divided into four zones: the Pacific Fringe, which is humid and mostly jungle; the western mountain range, also humid and full of jungle, heavily deforested due to the paper industry; The Andean valley of the Cauca river, whose surrounding lands are the most fertile of the country; and the western ridge of the central mountain range. The anthem of Valle del Cauca is "Salve Valle del Cauca, mi tierra" ("Hail Valley of the Cauca, my land").

Impact of the armed conflict and drug trade on civilians

Valle del Cauca has long been considered one of the 'epicenters' of the Colombian armed conflict. It was here and in Tolima that Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, better known by the acronym FARC-EP, were founded in 1964, following the aftermath of La Violencia. Valle del Cauca is considered part of the guerrillas' traditional 'heartland', which stretches across southern Colombia to Vichada in the east. In the 1970's the cultivation of illegal crops like coca (and the subsequent production of Cocaine) led to the rise of the Cali Cartel and the financial strengthening of the right-wing paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia. In the 1980's the FARC became became indirectly engaged in the drug trade through taxation of farmers, which quickly led to an escalation of the conflict between all parts involved. In the 1990's the department saw a number of displacement crises as tens of thousands of civilians, the majority of them of afro-colombian and indigenous descent, were forced to flee the fighting between guerrillas, the army, paramilitaries and drug traffickers. The gradual downfall of the Cali Cartel and the demobilization of AUC between 2004 and 2006 led to a shift in the fighting in Valle del Cauca. Drug traffickers reorganized into smaller, more numerous and more effective 'micro-cartels', while certain paramilitaries re-organized into 'neo-paramilitary' groups, referred to as 'BACRIM', or emergent criminal bands, by the government. The fracturing of the former paramilitary enemy allowed FARC and Ejército de Liberación Nacional to reclaim lost territory in the valley.

Armed conflict between 2007 and 2011

The battles between guerrillas, the army, 'neo-paramilitaries' and drug traffickers has killed thousands and, according to some estimates, displaced some 150,000 civilians between 2007 and 2011 in Valle del Cauca alone.[4][5] The FARC are reported to have a 'significant presence' in the department as of 2011. The largest concentration of guerrillas are reportedly located on the border areas with Tolima, Cauca and Chocó, in addition to the urban militias ('milicias') in traditional FARC strongholds such as Cali, Buenaventura and Jamundí.[6] These FARC militias are thought to number some 1,000 to 1,500 in the department as of 2011, in addition to an undisclosed or unknown number of regular guerrillas.[7][8] The FARC has been criticized for a number of alleged human rights abuses, such as their handling of the Valle del Cauca Deputies hostage crisis, which ended in 2009, and a number of attacks against military and civilian targets, including the bomb attacks against Cali's Palace of justice in 2008, 2010 and 2011.[9][6][10][11] The Colombian army in the department has also recently been criticized for allegedly offering rewards to children for acting as informants, which the United Nations says puts the life of the children at risk.[12] In 2010 and 2011 the colombian army said they were attempting to put pressure on the FARC:s sixth front in the rural zone between Jamundí, Tuluá and Tolima, which the army alleges is being used as a drug trafficking corridor by the guerrilla.[13] The FARC has answered to the military offensive by launching attacks on security forces, private companies and public works all over the department.[14][15][16] In 2011 reports emerged suggesting that the FARC:s supreme leader Alfonso Cano has relocated his headquarters to Valle del Cauca.[17]

After the fall of the Cali cartel it has been suspected that the 'neo-paramilitary' group Los Rastrojos has taken over as the main drug trafficking group in Valle del Cauca.[18] In 2011 certain commentators expressed concern about the arrival of Colombia's second largest paramilitary group Los Urabeños, traditionally considered a group from northern Colombia. The fighting between the two groups has sparked a 'mafia war' in 2011,[19][20] which has led to a sharp increase in murder rates in cities like Cali. Between January and March of 2011 Cali saw 448 homicides, which is considered a 15% increase from 2010.[21] it is suspected that the fighting between the two criminal groups is responsible for at least 80 of these murders,[19] and commentators are concerned because it appears that the violence is 'indiscriminate' and often directed towards civilians.[22]

In May 2011 the BBC reported that much of the cocaine that leaves Colombia from the Caribbean coast has its origin in Valle del Cauca. According to several reports Los Rastrojos are involved in production and distribution of the drug, which threatens to further escalate the war between them and the FARC in Valle del Cauca.[23]


The government of Valle del Cauca is similarly set up as the Government of Colombia in which there are three branches of power; judicial, executive and legislative with control institutions at government level. The executive branch in Valle del Department is represented by the Governor of Valle del Cauca Department, the legislative branch is represented by the Department Assembly of Valle del Cauca and its deputies and the judicial is represented by the four department level of the Judicial Branch of Colombia; Superior Tribunal of Cali, Penal Court of the Circuit of Cali, the Administrative Tribunal of Valle del Cauca and Superior Military Tribunal for military cases. Valle del Cauca Department has 42 municipalities, each one having a mayor which is a popularly elected representative of the governor.

Administrative divisions


Department's agencies and institutions


The department's economy is mainly centered on agriculture. In its valley it has sugar cane, cotton, soy, and sorghum crops and Coffee crops in the mountains. The department is known for its sugar industry, which provides sugar to the markets of the rest of the country and nearby countries. The sugar is obtained from the large sugar cane plantations, which were introduced to the department by Sebastián de Belalcázar. The production by the city of Yumbo also stands out, where several companies are found, most prominently the paper and cement businesses. The port at Buenaventura is Colombia's main port on the Pacific coast, allowing for the import and export of goods, and is of great importance for the economy of both the department and the country.


More than 80% of the population lives in cities or towns. The coverage of public services is among the highest in the country, with electrical power and education standing out the most. The food most closely associated with the department is sancocho de gallina, a stew made with an old hen, potatoes, yucca, corn and other ingredients; the characteristic flavor comes from a herb called cimarron or recao (Eryngium foetidum).


The capital of the department is Santiago de Cali, with approximately 2,800,000 inhabitants, was founded by Sebastián de Belalcázar in 1536. It is made up of 42 municipalities, the most populous being, from north to south, Cartago (Famous for its craftsmanship, its embroidery and for the "Casa del Virrey", House of the Viceroy), Roldanillo (Venue of the museum on the artist Omar Rayo), Tuluá (Located in the middle of the department), Yumbo (Industrial capital of the department venue for more than 2000 Industries of various types), Ginebra, Palmira, Buga and Jamundí.

Population of towns over 100,000 inhabitants (Not metropolitan areas):[2]

Town Female Male Total
Cali 1,095.850 979,530 2,075,380
Buenaventura 167,972 156,235 324,207
Buga 57,635 53,852 111,847
Cartago 64,209 57,532 121,741
Palmira 144,582 133,776 278,258
Tulua 95,922 87,314 183,236


  1. ^ Population Statistics by DANE[dead link]
  2. ^ a b Official census Book, pg 54 (Spanish)(+ 70 mb file)
  3. ^ "Official Buenaventura's port statistics (Spanish)". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  4. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (17 May 2010). "Refworld | Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 – Colombia". UNHCR.,,IDMC,,COL,,4bf2525bc,0.html. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) – Norwegian Refugee Council. "IDMC | Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Colombia". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Police uncover FARC bomb plot in Cali – Colombia news". Colombia Reports. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Arrest warrants issued against 1410 FARC rebels – Colombia news". Colombia Reports. 10 April 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Milicias, el plan pistola en el Cauca". El Colombiano. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Atentado a Palacio de Justicia en Cali deja 4 muertos, Articulo OnLine Archivado". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Incautan 50 kilos de explosivos en Cali, estaban destinados para actos terroristas en el Valle | Noticias Bogota y Colombia | Emisora Radio Santa Fe 1070 am en vivo". 17 April 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Murphy, Helen (2 February 2009). "Colombia’s FARC Kills Three in Cali Bomb Attack, Caracol Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Colombia – Children and Armed Conflict". United Nations. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "El Sexto Frente de las Farc estĂĄ viviendo una pesadilla sin fin : Noticias de Judicial". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "FARC torch 7 trucks in Valle del Cauca – Colombia news". Colombia Reports. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Las Farc siguen sembrando miedo en zona rural de TuluĂĄ : Noticias de Valle". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Ataque de las Farc deja tres policĂ­as muertos en Miranda, Cauca | RCN La Radio". RCN Radio. 27 March 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "¿El Cañón de las Hermosas sigue siendo el escondite de las FARC?, Articulo OnLine". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "El poder de ‘Los Rastrojos'". Elespectador.Com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "Racha de violencia tiene atemorizado al norte del Valle del Cauca : Noticias de Judicial". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Mafia War Feared in Cali, as Rastrojos Face New Competition". 28 March 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Cali: listado de los 20 barrios mĂĄs violentos en el 2011 : Noticias de Judicial". Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  22. ^ "Wave of violence hits Tulua – Colombia news". Colombia Reports. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "BBC News – Colombia security forces seize massive cocaine haul". BBC. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  24. ^ [1][dead link]

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