Caribbean region of Colombia

Last updated
The Caribbean Region of Colombia detailed in the dark red area with territorial waters. Caribbean region of Colombia map.png
The Caribbean Region of Colombia detailed in the dark red area with territorial waters.

The Caribbean region of Colombia or Caribbean coast region is in the north of Colombia and is mainly composed of eight Departments located contiguous to the Caribbean. [1] The area covers a total land area of 132,288 km2 (51,077 sq mi) including the San Andres Island Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina 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. [2]


The Caribbean region coast extends from the Gulf of Urabá to the Gulf of Venezuela. Straddling the coast are Colombia's two main Atlantic port cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena. 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.

Administrative divisions

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 Barranquillaandriomagdalena.png
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

Eight departments form the Caribbean region:

partial territory pertaining to


The predominant ethnic group in the region is the pardo, a mixture of European, mainly Spanish, the indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian. During the early 20th century, a wave of immigrants came from Europe and the Middle East, mostly from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. A second wave followed 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, Santa Cruz de Mompox, El Banco, etc. The two most populous 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 kilometer. 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.

#DepartmentPopulation 2017Capital
1 Atlántico 2,517,897 Barranquilla
2 Bolívar 2,146,696 Cartagena de Indias
3 Cesar 1,053,475 Valledupar
4 Córdoba 1,762,530 Montería
5 La Guajira 1,012,926 Riohacha
6 Magdalena 1,285,384 Santa Marta
8 Sucre 868,438 Sincelejo
Caribbean Region (Colombia) 10,725,105


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 and Santa Marta along with San Andres and Providencia Islands.


Known for its peacefulness and easygoing demeanour, 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 harbouring some communities which pursue human excellence through the academic and physical endeavours 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, football is by far the most popular sport in the zone, with teams like Junior Barranquilla, Jaguares de Córdoba, Real Cartagena and Unión Magdalena competing in the first and second divisions of the country. The Caribbean region has been the home of successful football players, many of them world famous like Carlos Valderrama, Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca.

Unlike in rest of the country, but 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 Édgar Rentería and Orlando Cabrera.

The region also is known for its love of combat sports. Boxing is a popular sport in certain zones and the region had produced many world champions, such as Antonio Cervantes, Rodrigo Valdéz, and Miguel "Happy" Lora.

Music and dance

Monument to the dance and music of cumbia Monumento a la cumbia.JPG
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. Sombrero vueltiao.jpg
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 .

Myth and legend

The Caribbean region has a rich tradition of myths and legends 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 or March. 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 tail) and accompanied with coconut rice. In the coast, the typical meal is fish, sometimes fried or sometimes cooked in coconut milk. A popular soup is also prepared with the head of the tarpon, 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).

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Colombia

The Republic of Colombia is situated largely in the northwest of South America, with some territories falling within the boundaries of Central America. It is bordered to the northwest by Panama; to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; and it shares maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

Colombian culture pattern of human activity and symbolism associated with Colombia and its people

Many aspects of Colombian culture can be traced back to the early culture of Spain of the 16th century and its collision with Colombia's native civilizations. The Spanish brought Catholicism, Africans, the feudal encomienda system, and a caste system that favored European-born whites. After independence from Spain, the criollos struggled to establish a pluralistic political system, between conservative and liberal ideals. The conservatives supported the involvement of the Catholic Church in the state, while liberals favored the separation of these. The conservatives managed to outsource public education to the Catholic Church, and for many years, the church controlled the country's education system. Both parties engaged in multiple civil wars resulting in a slow development of the country and the isolation of regions until the end of the 19th century. Ethno-racial groups maintained their ancestral heritage culture: whites tried to keep themselves, despite the growing number of illegitimate children of mixed African or indigenous ancestry. These people were labeled with any number of descriptive names, derived from the casta system, such as mestizo, mulatto and moreno. Blacks and indigenous people of Colombia also mixed to form zambos, creating a new ethno-racial group in society. This mix also created a fusion of cultures. Carnivals for example became an opportunity for all classes and colors to congregate without prejudice. The introduction of the bill of rights of men and the abolishment of slavery (1851) eased the segregationist tensions between the races, but the dominance of the whites prevailed and prevails to some extent to this day.

Sucre Department Department of Colombia

Sucre is a department in the Caribbean Region of Colombia. The department ranks 27th by area, 10,670 km2 (4,120 sq mi) and it has a population of 904,863, ranking 20th of all the 32 departments of Colombia. Sucre is bordered by the Caribbean on the northwest; by Bolívar Department on the east and by Córdoba Department on the west.

Valledupar City and municipality in Caribbean, Colombia

Valledupar is a city and municipality in northeastern Colombia. It is the capital of Cesar Department. Its name, Valle de Upar, was established in honor of the Amerindian cacique who ruled the valley; Cacique Upar. The city lies between the mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía del Perijá to the borders of the Guatapurí and Cesar rivers.

Guajira Peninsula South American peninsula

Guajira Peninsula[gwaˈxiɾa, gwaˈhiɾa], is a peninsula in northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela in the Caribbean. It is the northernmost peninsula in South America and has an area of 25,000 km2 (9,700 sq mi) extending from the Manaure Bay (Colombia) to the Calabozo Ensenada in the Gulf of Venezuela (Venezuela), and from the Caribbean to the Serranía del Perijá mountains range.

La Guajira Department Department of Colombia

La Guajira is a department of Colombia. It occupies most of the Guajira Peninsula in the northeast region of the country, on the Caribbean Sea and bordering Venezuela, at the northernmost tip of South America. The capital city of the department is Riohacha.

The Caribbean Bloc of the FARC-EP was a medium-sized FARC-EP bloc which operated in the Northern areas of Colombia and along the Caribbean coast, with routes and access to the coast being strategically important, and was thus sometimes referred to as the Northern Bloc. At the end of the 1990s the group had much control over the rural areas connecting the urban centers of the Caribbean region, but in the 2000s was forced to retreat into the more inhospitable Andes. The group's leaders have been held responsible for numerous kidnappings and killings along the entire Caribbean coast, including the urban centers Cartagena, Barranquilla, Valledupar and Santa Marta. This bloc was also the center of the high-profile kidnapping of Fernando Araújo, who recovered his freedom during a Colombian National Army offensive in early 2007.

Dibulla, La Guajira town in Caribbean, Colombia

Dibulla is a town and municipality located in the Department of La Guajira, Colombia by the Caribbean sea and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains on the Guajira Peninsula. It was proclaimed municipality in 1995.

Tourism in Colombia

The contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was US$5,880.3bn in 2016. Tourism generated 556,135 jobs in 2016. Foreign tourist visits were predicted to have risen from 0.6 million in 2007 to 4 million in 2017. Responsible tourism became a peremptory need for Colombia because it minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts and makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Natural regions of Colombia

Because of its natural structure, Colombia can be divided into six very distinct natural regions. These consist of the Andean Region, covering the three branches of the Andes mountains found in Colombia; the Caribbean Region, covering the area adjacent to the Caribbean Sea; the Pacific Region adjacent to the Pacific Ocean; the Orinoquía Region, part of the Llanos plains mainly in the Orinoco river basin along the border with Venezuela; the Amazon Region, part of the Amazon rainforest; and finally the Insular Region, comprising the islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Colombia is located in South America.

Highways in Colombia highway system in Colombia

Colombian geography presents formidable challenges to roadbuilders, needing to communicate its largest production centers deep inside the Andes with major ports in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. All of this carries a heavy premium to roadbuilding, compared with the cost of building highways in flat terrains. Therefore, the Colombian government is undertaking a great effort in order to improve the highway system, under the name of Fourth Generation Highways, with the intent of updating major roads to international safety and speed standards. This project will be funded through both public and private capital, with a total worth of nearly US$23 billion, accounting to a yearly investment of 3% of national GDP, improving or building a grand total of over 8.000 km of roads. These roads are expected to improve Colombia's competitiveness in order to successfully take advantage of the many trade agreements signed in recent years.

Miss Colombia 2002, the 68th Miss Colombia pageant, was held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on November 12, 2002, after three weeks of events. The winner of the pageant was Diana Lucia Mantilla Prada, Miss Santander.

Cartagena Province Province in Colombia

Cartagena ProvinceSpanish: Provincia de Cartagena, also called Gobierno de Cartagena during the Spanish imperial era, was an administrative and territorial division of New Granada in the Viceroyalty of Peru. It was originally organized on February 16, 1533 as a captaincy general from the central portion of the Province of Tierra Firme. In 1717, King Philip V of Spain issued a royal decree creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada, by which the province was added to the latter.

Lebanese Colombians are Colombians of Lebanese descent. Most of the Lebanese community's forebears immigrated to Colombia from the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for economic, political and religious reasons. When they were first processed in the ports of Colombia, they were classified as Turks because what is modern day Lebanon was a territory of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The first Lebanese moved to Colombia in the late nineteenth century. There was another wave in the early twentieth century. It is estimated that over 10,000 Lebanese immigrated to Colombia from 1900 to 1930.

Race and ethnicity in Colombia descends mainly from three racial groups—Amerindians, Europeans, and Africans—that have mingled throughout the last 500 years of the country's history. Some demographers describe Colombia as one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Western Hemisphere and in the World, with 85 different ethnic groups. Most Colombians identify themselves and others according to ancestry, physical appearance, and sociocultural status. Social relations reflect the importance attached to certain characteristics associated with a given racial group. Although these characteristics no longer accurately differentiate social categories, they still contribute to one's rank in the social hierarchy. Genetic research with over 60,000 blood tests and 25 variables, determined that the average Colombian has a mixture of 70% European, 20% native Amerindian and 10% African ancestry, however these proportions vary widely from one region to another. These proportions also vary widely among ethnicities.

Spanish Colombian Colombians of Spanish Descent

A Spanish Colombian is a Colombian of Spanish descent. Spain conquered the land now known as Colombia in the 16th century. Thus, its immigration is the most important to Colombia, whose official language is Spanish and its culture derived in great part from that of Spain.

Caribbean natural region

The Caribbean region is mostly lowland plains extending from the northern reaches of the Colombian Andes to the Caribbean Sea that are characterized by a variety of ecosystems including: humid forests, dry forests, savannas, wetlands and desert. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta rise from the plains to snow-capped peaks, separated from the Andes as an isolated area of high biodiversity and endemism. It contains one of the largest marshes in Colombia, the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. The main river is the Magdalena which is fully navigable in the region and a major path for the flow of shipments to and from inland Colombia.

Colombia Migration is Colombia's customs agency responsible of monitoring and carrying out migratory control within the framework of national sovereignty and in accordance with the law.

Sinú Valley dry forests

The Sinú Valley dry forests (NT0229) is an ecoregion in the north of Colombia.


  1. (in Spanish) MEMO: Natural Regions of Colombia Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 22 August 2007.
  2. "Observatorio del Caribe". Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2018.