This article needs additional citations for verification . (October 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Darién Gap ( UK: /, -/ , US: /, -, / , Spanish: [t̪a'põn ˈd̪el daˈɾjen] Tapón del Darién, literally "Darién plug" ) is a break across the North and South American continents within Central America, consisting of a large watershed, forest and mountains in the northern portion of Colombia's Chocó Department and Panama's Darién Province.[ citation needed ]
The Pan-American Highway also has a corresponding gap of 106 kilometres (66 mi) in length, beginning at Turbo, Colombia, and ending at Yaviza, Panama. Roadbuilding through this area is expensive, and the environmental cost is high. Political consensus in favor of road construction collapsed after an initial attempt failed in the early 1970s, and to date has not yet re-emerged.[ citation needed ]
The geography of the Darién Gap on the Colombian side is dominated primarily by the river delta of the Atrato River, which creates a flat marshland at least 80 km (50 mi) wide. The Serranía del Baudó range extends along Colombia's Pacific coast and into Panama. The Panamanian side, in stark contrast, is a mountainous rainforest, with terrain reaching from 60 m (197 ft) in the valley floors to 1,845 m (6,053 ft) at the tallest peak (Cerro Tacarcuna, in the Serranía del Darién).[ citation needed ]
The Pan-American Highway is a system of roads measuring about 30,000 km (19,000 mi) long that crosses through the entirety of North, Central, and South America, with the sole exception of the Darién Gap. On the South American side, the Highway terminates at Turbo, Colombia, near . On the Panamanian side, the road terminus is the town of Yaviza at . This marks a straight-line separation of about 100 km (60 mi). In between are marshland and forest.[ citation needed ]
Efforts have been made for decades to remedy this missing link in the Pan-American Highway. Planning began in 1971 with the help of United States funding, but this was halted in 1974 after concerns were raised by environmentalists.[ citation needed ] Another effort to build the road began in 1992, but by 1994 a United Nations agency reported that the road, and the subsequent development, would cause extensive environmental damage. Cited reasons include evidence that the Darién Gap has prevented the spread of diseased cattle into Central and North America, which have not seen foot-and-mouth disease since 1954, and since at least the 1970s this has been a substantial factor in preventing a road link through the Darién Gap. The Embera-Wounaan and Guna have also expressed concern that the road would bring about the potential erosion of their cultures.[ citation needed ]
Many people, groups, indigenous populations, and governments are opposed to completing the Darién portion of the highway. Reasons for opposition include protecting the rainforest, containing the spread of tropical diseases, protecting the livelihood of indigenous peoples in the area, preventing drug trafficking [ citation needed ]and its associated violence, and preventing foot-and-mouth disease from entering North America. The extension of the highway as far as Yaviza resulted in severe deforestation alongside the highway route within a decade.
One option proposed, in a study by Bio-Pacifico, is a short ferry link from Colombia to a new ferry port in Panama, with an extension of the existing Panama highway that would complete the highway without violating these environmental concerns. Another idea is to use a combination of bridges and tunnels to avoid the environmentally sensitive regions.
Archaeological knowledge of this area has received relatively little attention compared to its adjoining neighbors to the north and south, despite the fact that scholars such as Max Uhle, William Henry Holmes, C. V. Hartman, and George Grant MacCurdy undertook studies of archaeological sites and collections here over a century ago that were augmented by further research by Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, John Alden Mason, Doris Zemurray Stone, William Duncan Strong, Gordon Willey, and others in the early 20th century. One of the reasons for the relative lack of attention is the lack of research by locals themselves into ancestral monuments and architecture.[ citation needed ] There are a large number of sites with impressive platform mounds, plazas, paved roads, stone sculpture, and artifacts made from jade, gold, and ceramic materials.[ citation needed ]
The Darién Gap is home to the Embera-Wounaan and Kuna (and the former home of the Cueva people before the 16th century). Travel is often by specialized canoes (piragua). On the Panamanian side, La Palma is the capital of the province and the main cultural centre. Other population centers include Yaviza and El Real. The Darién Gap had a reported population of 1,700 in 1980. Maize, cassava, plantains, and bananas are staple crops in local farms.[ citation needed ]
The Cunas were living in what is now Northern Colombia and the Darién Province of Panama at the time of the Spanish invasion, and only later began to move westward due to a conflict with the Spanish and other indigenous groups. Centuries before the conquest, the Cunas arrived in South America as part of a Chibchan migration moving east from Central America. At the time of the Spanish invasion, they were living in the region of Uraba and near the borders of what are now Antioquia and Caldas. The Cuna themselves attribute their migrations to conflicts with other chiefdoms, and their migration to nearby islands to the mosquito populations on the mainland.[ citation needed ]
Vasco Núñez de Balboa and Alonso de Ojeda explored the coast of Colombia in 1500 and 1501. They spent the most time in the Gulf of Urabá, where they made contact with the Cunas. The regional border was initially created in 1508 after royal decree, to separate the colonial governorships of Castilla de Oro and Nueva Andalucía, using the River Atrato as the boundary between the two goverorships.
Balboa heard of the South Sea from locals while sailing along the Caribbean coast. On 25 September 1513, he saw the Pacific.[ citation needed ]
In 1519, the town of Panamá was founded near a small indigenous settlement on the Pacific coast. After the discovery of Peru, it developed into an important port of trade and became an administrative centre.[ citation needed ]
In 1671, the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan crossed the Isthmus of Panamá from the Caribbean side and destroyed the city. The town was relocated some kilometers to the west at a small peninsula. The ruins of the old town, Panamá Viejo, are preserved and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.[ citation needed ]
Silver and gold from the viceroyalty of Peru were transported overland across the isthmus by Spanish Silver Train to Porto Bello, where Spanish treasure fleets shipped them to Seville and Cádiz from 1707. Lionel Wafer spent four years between 1680 and 1684 among the Cuna Indians.
In 1698, Scotland tried to establish a settlement through the Darien scheme, independent Scotland's one major attempt at colonialism. The first expedition of five ships (Saint Andrew, Caledonia, Unicorn, Dolphin, and Endeavour) set sail from Leith on 14 July 1698, with around 1,200 people on board.Their orders were "to proceed to the Bay of Darien, and make the Isle called the Golden Island ... some few leagues to the leeward of the mouth of the great River of Darien ... and there make a settlement on the mainland". After calling at Madeira and the West Indies, the fleet made landfall off the coast of Darien on November 2. The settlers christened their new home "New Caledonia".
The aim was for the colony to have an overland route that connected the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. From its contemporary time to the present day, claims have been made that the undertaking was beset by poor planning and provisioning, divided leadership, a poor choice of trade goods, devastating epidemics of disease, reported attempts by the East India Company to frustrate it, as well as a failure to anticipate the Spanish Empire's military response. It was finally abandoned in March 1700 after a siege by Spanish forces, which also blockaded the harbor.[ citation needed ]
As the Company of Scotland was backed by approximately 20% of all the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left the entire Lowlands in substantial financial ruin and English financial incentives were a factor in persuading those in power to support the 1707 Acts of Union. [ citation needed ]According to this argument, the Scottish establishment (landed aristocracy and mercantile elites) considered that their best chance of being part of a major power would be to share the benefits of England's international trade and the growth of the English overseas possessions, so its future would have to lie in unity with England. Furthermore, Scotland's nobles were almost bankrupted by the Darien fiasco.
The current border is regulated by the Victoria-Velez Treaty signed in Bogotá on 20 August 1924 by the Foreign Ministers of Panama, Nicolas Victoria; and Colombia, Jorge Velez. This treaty is officially registered in the Register No. 814 of the Treaty League of Nations, on 17 August 1925. The border was made based on the same Colombian law of 9 June 1855.
Two major national parks exist in the Darién Gap: Darién National Park in Panama and Los Katíos National Park in Colombia. The Darién Gap forests had extensive cedrela and mahogany cover at one time, but many of these trees were removed by loggers.[ citation needed ]
Darién National Park covers around 5,790 square kilometres (579,000 ha; 2,240 sq mi; 1,430,000 acres) of land and was established in 1980. It is the largest national park in Central America.[ citation needed ]
On 6 June 1992, Copa Airlines Flight 201, a Boeing 737 jet airplane covering a flight between Panama City and Cali, Colombia, crashed in the Darién Gap, killing all 47 people on board.
The Gap can be transited by off-road vehicles attempting intercontinental journeys. The first post-colonial expedition to the Darién was the Marsh Darien Expedition [ citation needed ]in 1924–25, supported by several major sponsors, including the Smithsonian Institution.
The first vehicular crossing of the Gap was made by three Brazilians in two Ford Model Ts. They left Rio de Janeiro in 1928 and arrived in the United States in 1938. The expedition intended to claim attention for the Panamerican highway, after an International Conference in Chile, in 1923. The participants were Leonidas Borges de Oliveira, a lieutenant from Brazilian army, Francisco Lopez da Cruz from Brazilian air force, and Mário Fava, a young mechanic. They took what appears to be the last photo of Augusto Sandino, who received them in Nicaragua, and was received by Henry Ford and Franklin Roosevelt in the United States. Their story is available with photos from the book O Brasil através das três Américas written by Beto Braga. Another pass was completed by the Land Rover La Cucaracha Cariñosa (The Affectionate Cockroach) and a Jeep of the Trans-Darién Expedition of 1959–60, crewed by Amado Araúz (Panama), his wife Reina Torres de Araúz, former Special Air Service man Richard E. Bevir (UK), and engineer Terence John Whitfield (Australia). m (220 yd) per hour over 136 days. They traveled a great deal of the distance up the vast Atrato River.[ citation needed ]They left Chepo, Panama, on 2 February 1960 and reached Quibdó, Colombia, on 17 June 1960, averaging 201
In December 1960, on a motorcycle trip from Alaska to Argentina, adventurer Danny Liska [ citation needed ]attempted to transit the Darién Gap from Panama to Colombia. Liska was forced to abandon his motorcycle and proceed across the Gap by boat and foot. In 1961, a team of three 1961 Chevrolet Corvairs and several support vehicles departed from Panama. The group was sponsored by Dick Doane Chevrolet (a Chicago Chevrolet dealer) and the Chevrolet division of General Motors. After 109 days they reached the Colombia Border with two Corvairs, the third having been abandoned in the jungle. It has been documented by a Jam Handy Productions film along with an article in Automobile Quarterly magazine (Volume 1 number 3, from the fall of 1962).
A pair of Range Rovers was used on the British Trans-Americas Expedition in 1972 led by John Blashford-Snell, which is claimed to be the first vehicle-based expedition to traverse both American continents north to south through the Darién Gap. The Expedition crossed the Atrato Swamp in Colombia with the cars on special inflatable rafts that were carried in the backs of the vehicles. However, they received substantial support from the British Army. Blashford-Snell's book, Something Lost Behind the Ranges (Harper Collins) has several chapters on the Darién expedition. The Hundred Days of Darien, a book written by Russell Braddon in 1974, also chronicles this expedition. In addition to the book, a video exists that was filmed by two Vancouver, BC based cameramen, Alan Bibby and Eric Rankin. These cameramen were mentioned in the book several times and can be seen in some of the still photos in the book.
The first fully overland wheeled crossing (others used boats for some sections) of the Gap was that of British cyclist Ian Hibell, who rode from Cape Horn to Alaska between 1971 and 1973. Hibell took the "direct" overland south-to-north route, including an overland crossing of the Atrato Swamp in Colombia. Hibell completed his crossing of the Gap accompanied by two New Zealand cycling companions who had ridden with him from Cape Horn, but neither of these continued with Hibell on to Alaska.
The first motorcycle crossing was by Robert L. Webb in March 1975. Another four-wheel drive crossing was in 1978–1979 by Mark A. Smith and his team. Smith and his team drove the 400 km (250 mi) stretch of the gap in 30 days using five stock Jeep CJ-7s. They travelled many miles up the Atrato River on barges.
The first all-land auto crossing was in 1985–87 by Loren Upton and Patty Mercier in a CJ-5 Jeep, taking 741 days to travel 125 miles (201 km). This crossing is documented in the 1992 Guinness Book of Records. Ed Culberson was the first one to follow the entire Pan-American highway including the Darién Gap proposed route on a motorcycle, a BMW R80G/S. From Yaviza he first followed the Loren Upton team but would go solo just before Pucuru, hiring his own guides.
In the 1990s, the gap was briefly joined by ferry service, provided by Crucero Express, but this company ceased operations in 1997.[ citation needed ]
A number of notable crossings have been made on foot. Sebastian Snow crossed the Gap with Wade Davis in 1975 as part of his unbroken walk from Tierra del Fuego to Costa Rica. The trip is documented in his 1976 book The Rucksack Man and in Wade Davis's 1985 book The Serpent and the Rainbow . In 1981, George Meegan crossed the gap on a similar journey. He too started in Tierra del Fuego and eventually ended in Alaska. His 1988 biography, The Longest Walk, describes the trip and includes a 25-page chapter on his foray through the Gap. In 2001, as a part of his Goliath Expedition—a trek to forge an unbroken footpath from the tip of South America to the Bering Strait and back to his home in England—Karl Bushby (UK) crossed the gap on foot, using no transport or boats, from Colombia to Panama.[ citation needed ]
In July 1996, as part of their hitchhiking trip to Ushuaia through 17 Latin American countries, Walter Bläs, Ana Cravioto, Albrecht von der Recke and Gustavo Ross crossed from Panama to Colombia, becoming the first Mexicans to cross the Gap on foot, according to the visitors log kept since 1946 in Púcuro. The night of 28 July they survived the Hurricane Cesar–Douglas in the jungle somewhere between Paya and Palo de las Letras. Accompanied by 11 and 13-year-old Lico and Juan from Paya, the survivors reported several big trees falling around them and river levels rising up to 3 meters (10 feet) that night.[ citation needed ]
In 1979, evangelist Arthur Blessitt traversed the gap while carrying a 12-foot wooden cross, a trek confirmed by Guinness World Records as part of "the longest round the world pilgrimage" for Christ. Traveling alone with a machete plus one backpack crammed with water bottles, a hammock, Bible, notepad, lemon drops, and Blessitt's signature Jesus stickers saying "Smile! God Loves you", Blessitt describes his experience in a book, The Cross, and in a full-length movie of the same name.
Most crossings of the Darién Gap region have been from Panama to Colombia. In July 1961, three college students, Carl Adler, James Wirth, and Joseph Bellina, crossed from the Bay of San Miguel to Puerto Obaldia on the Gulf of Parita (near Colombia) and ultimately to Mulatupu in what was then known as San Blas and now identified as Kuna Yala. The trip across the Darién was by banana boat, piraqua[ check spelling ], and foot via the Tuira river (La Palma and El Real de Santa Maria), Río Chucunaque (Yaviza), Rio Tuquesa (Chaua's (General Choco Chief) Trading Post—Choco Indian village) and Serranía del Darién.
In 1985, Project Raleigh, which evolved from Project Drake in 1984 and in 1989 became Raleigh International, sponsored an expedition which also crossed the Darién coast to coast. [ citation needed ]Their path was similar to the 1961 route above, but in reverse. The expedition started in the Bay of Caledonia at the Serranía del Darién, following the Río Membrillo ultimately to the Río Chucunaque and Yaviza, roughly following the route taken by Balboa in 1513.
Between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, Encounter Overland, a British adventure travel company, organized 2–3 week trekking trips through the Darién Gap from Panama to Colombia or vice versa. These trips used a combination of whatever transport was available: jeeps, bus, boats, and plenty of walking, with travelers carrying their own supplies. These groups were made up of male and female participants from any number of nationalities and age groups, and were led by experienced trek leaders. One leader went on to do nine Darién Gap trips and later acted as a logistics guide and coordinator for the BBC Natural History Unit during the production of a documentary called A Tramp in the Darien, which screened on BBC in 1990–91.[ citation needed ]
A complete overland crossing of the Darién rainforest on foot and riverboat (i.e., from the last road in Panama to the first road in Colombia) became more dangerous in the 1990s because of the Colombian conflict. The Colombian portion of the Darién rainforest in the Katios Park region eventually fell under control of armed groups. Furthermore, combatants from Colombia even entered Panama, occupied some Panamanian jungle villages and kidnapped or killed inhabitants and travelers. Just as hostilities were starting to worsen, 18-year-old Andrew Egan traversed the Darién Rainforest, detailing the excursion in the book Crossing the Darien Gap.[ citation needed ]
As of 2013, the coastal route on the east side of the Darién Isthmus has become relatively safe. This is by motorboat across the Gulf of Uraba from Turbo to Capurganá, and then hopping the coast to Sapzurro and hike from there to La Miel, Panama. Any inland routes through the Darién remain highly dangerous.In June 2017, CBS journalist Adam Yamaguchi filmed smugglers leading refugees on a nine-day journey from Colombia to Panama through the Darién.
Migrants from Africa have been known to cross the Darién Gap as a method of migrating to the United States. This route may entail flying to Ecuador (taking advantage of that nation's liberal visa policy), and attempting to cross the gap on foot.The journalist Jason Motlagh was interviewed by Sacha Pfeiffer on NPR's nationally syndicated radio show On Point in 2016 concerning his work following migrants through the Darién Gap.
The Darién Gap was subject to the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has committed assassinations, kidnappings and human rights violations during its insurgency against the Colombian government.FARC rebels were present on both the Colombian and Panamanian sides of the border.
In 2000, two British travelers, Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder, were kidnapped by FARC in the Darién Gap while hunting for exotic orchids, plants for which Dyke has a particular passion. The two were held captive for nine months and threatened with death before eventually being released unharmed and without a ransom being paid. Dyke and Winder later documented their experience in the book The Cloud Garden and in an episode of Locked Up Abroad .[ citation needed ]
Other political victims include three New Tribes missionaries, who disappeared from the Panamanian side in 1993.
In 2003, Robert Young Pelton, on assignment for National Geographic Adventure magazine, and two traveling companions, Mark Wedeven and Megan Smaker, were detained for one week by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a far-right paramilitary organization, in a highly publicized incident.
In May 2013, Swedish backpacker Jan Philip Braunisch disappeared in the area after leaving the Colombian town of Riosucio with the intention of attempting a crossing on foot to Panama, via the Cuenca Cacarica. The FARC admitted to killing him, having mistaken him for a foreign spy.
The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads stretching across the American continents and measuring about 30,000 kilometres (19,000 mi) in total length. Except for a rainforest break of approximately 106 km (70 mi) in northwest Colombia, called the Darién Gap, the roads link almost all of the Pacific coastal countries of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world's longest "motorable road". However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South America and Central America with conventional highway vehicles. Without an all-terrain vehicle, the only way to safely circumnavigate this terrestrial stretch is by sea.
Darién is a province in Panama whose capital city is La Palma. With an area of 11,896.5 km2 (4,593.3 sq mi), it is located at the eastern end of the country and bordered to the north by the province of Panamá and the region of Kuna Yala. To the south, it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Colombia. To the east, it borders Colombia; to the west, it borders the Pacific Ocean and the province of Panama.
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal. Like many isthmuses, it is a location of great strategic value.
The Atrato River is a river of northwestern Colombia. It rises in the slopes of the Western Cordillera and flows almost due north to the Gulf of Urabá, where it forms a large, swampy delta. Its course crosses the Chocó Department, forming that department's border with neighboring Antioquia in two places. Its total length is about 650 km (400 mi), and it is navigable as far as Quibdó, the capital of the department.
The Gulf of Urabá is a gulf on the northern coast of Colombia. It is part of the Caribbean Sea. It is a long, wide inlet located on the coast of Colombia, close to the connection of the continent to the Isthmus of Panama.The town of Turbo, Colombia, lies at the mid eastern side naturally sheltered by the Turbo Bay part of the Gulf. The Atrato River flows into the Gulf of Urabá.
The Gulf of Darién is the southernmost region of the Caribbean Sea, located north and east of the border between Panama and Colombia. Within the gulf is the Gulf of Urabá, a small lip of sea extending southward, between Caribana Point and Cape Tiburón, Colombia, on the southern shores of which is the port city of Turbo, Colombia. The Atrato River delta extends into the Gulf of Darién.
Los Katíos National Natural Park is a protected area located in northwest Colombia which covers about 720 km2 (280 sq mi). The elevation ranges between 50 and 600 m. It is a part of the Darién Gap, a densely forested area shared by Panama and Colombia, and is contiguous with the Darién National Park in Panama. The Pan-American Highway, when completed as proposed, would pass near or through Los Katíos. The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 due to the extraordinary diversity of plant and animal species represented. The park contains over 25% of the bird species reported for Colombia in an area less than 1% of the total Colombian territory.
Turbo is a port city in Antioquia Department, Colombia. It is located on the coast of Gulf of Urabá, 340 km north of Medellín. This port city is the capital of the Urabá region of Antioquia. The place where Turbo is today was known as Pisisí, but by 1741 people were already talking about Turbo. By a decree on May 11, 1839, the central government spent one thousand pesos for military service barracks in Turbo. In 1840 the republican president assigned one thousand fanegas of uncultivated lands for the new population. It was established as a municipality in 1847.
The Pacific/Chocó natural region is one of the five major natural regions of Colombia. Ecologically, this region belongs entirely to the Chocó Biogeographic Region and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. It also has areas with the highest rainfall in the world, with areas near Quibdo, Chocó reaching up to 13,000 mm (510 in) annually.
Riosucio is a municipality and town in the Department of Chocó, Colombia. The municipality and town are located in the Atrato River basin, on the Chocoan side of Urabá, a region spanning the departments Chocó and Antioquia.
Transportation in North America is performed through a varied transportation system, whose quality ranges from being on par with a high-quality European motorway to an unpaved gravelled back road that can extend hundreds of miles. There is also an extensive transcontinental freight rail network, but passenger railway ridership is lower than in Europe and Asia.
Kevin Sanders and Julia Sanders are an English motorcyclist husband and wife noted for overland long-distance riding. They hold two Guinness World Records. The first was achieved in June 2002 by circumnavigating the world by motorcycle in 19½ days. The second was completed on 22 September 2003, riding the length of the Americas from Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, United States to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina in 35 days and breaking the previous record by over 12 days. After these Guinness World records, they founded their motorcycle expedition company, GlobeBusters Motorcycle Expeditions in 2004.
Crime in Panama is investigated by the Panamanian police.
Capurganá is a tourist destination of the municipality of Acandí on the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Urabá in the Colombian department of Choco and adjacent to the border between Colombia and Panama. This region of Colombia was inhabited by the Cuna Indians and the name Capurgana translates to the "land of chili" in their language. The Cuna inhabited until the early twentieth century when they were displaced by mostly mulatto settlers from Cartagena. The natives migrated to the archipelago of San Blas in the neighboring country of Panama. The Cuna maintain a semiautonomous region where they exercise a degree of self governance.
For the Wikipedia article about the actual Darien Gap, click here.
Sapzurro is a small town on the Caribbean Sea located in the northwest corner of the Republic of Colombia. It is part of the Municipality of Acandí, in the Chocó Department of the Darién region. The closest city is Capurganá, a semi-popular port town, and it is across the international boundary from the Panamanian town of La Miel.
Frederick M. Kelley (1822–1905) was a Wall Street banker, who sponsored 7 expeditions to discover the purported "Sea Level Interoceanic Canal" of the Isthmus of Darien.
The Colombia–Panama border is the 225 km (139-mile) long international boundary between Colombia and Panama. It also splits the Darién Gap, a break across the South American and North American continents. This large watershed, forest and mountainous area is in the northern portion of Colombia's Chocó Department and Panama's Darién Province.
The Chocó-Darién moist forests (NT0115) is an ecoregion in the west of Colombia and east of Panama. The region has extremely high rainfall, and the forests hold great biodiversity. The northern and southern parts of the ecoregion have been considerably modified for ranching and farming, and there are threats from logging for paper pulp, uncontrolled gold mining, coca growing and industrialisation, but the central part of the ecoregion is relatively intact.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Darien Gap .|