Tolima Department

Last updated

Department of Tolima
Departamento del Tolima
¡Tierra firme de Colombia!"
Anthem: Bunde Tolimense
Tolima in Colombia (mainland).svg
Tolima shown in red
Tolima Topographic 2.png
Topography of the department
Coordinates: 4°26′N75°14′W / 4.433°N 75.233°W / 4.433; -75.233
Country Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia
Region Andean Region
Established August 4, 1886
Capital Ibagué
  GovernorAdriana Magali Matiz (2023-2027) (Partido Conservador Colombiano)
  Total23,562 km2 (9,097 sq mi)
  Rank 19th
 (2018) [1]
  Rank 10th
  Density56/km2 (150/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-05
ISO 3166 code CO-TOL
Provinces 6
HDI (2019)0.747 [2]
high · 18th of 33

Tolima (Spanish pronunciation: [toˈlima] ) is one of the 32 departments of Colombia, located in the Andean region, in the center-west of the country. It is bordered on the north and the west by the department of Caldas; on the east by the department of Cundinamarca; on the south by the department of Huila, and on the west by the departments of Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Quindío and Risaralda. Tolima has a surface area of 23,562 km2, and its capital is Ibagué. The department of Tolima was created in 1861 from a part of what was previously Cundinamarca.



Indigenous civilization

The Pijao inhabited the southern parts of Tolima during pre-Columbian times. The name of the department comes from the Pijao word for "snowed". The Panche, of the same linguistic family as the Pijao, populated the northern regions of Tolima, close to the Magdalena Valley. Renowned as fierce warriors, the Panche were widely known for fighting the Muisca over the control of emerald mining territories. They fought against a Spanish-Muisca coalition and were first defeated in the Battle of Tocarema on August 20, 1538.

Spanish colonization

Spanish colonization of the region began in 1537 with Sebastián de Belalcázar travelling from the south of later Colombia, where he had founded Cali and Popayán in 1537. He set north to finally reach the area where Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada had founded Bogotá on August 6, 1538. On its way, De Belalcázar founded the settlement that would become known as Ibagué. De Belalcázar traveled until he reached the settlement of Flandes in Tolima, before heading east towards the Bogotá savanna. Later conquests were executed by captain Andrés Lopez de Galarza, who founded the city of Ibagué and established the municipality of Cajamarca in the west of the department. These two cities would become an important part of the Eje Cafetero ("Coffee Axis").

Modern era

In 1985 the Armero tragedy occurred in the department.


Historical population
1973 905,609    
1985 1,142,220+26.1%
1993 1,286,078+12.6%
2005 1,365,342+6.2%
2018 1,330,187−2.6%
Source: [3]



Being situated close to the equator, the department of Tolima does not experience seasons, but it does enjoy a variety of different mountainous temperatures: snowy summits more than 5,000 meters high (home to the Las Hermosas and Nevado del Huila National Natural Parks) with below freezing temperatures like the Nevado del Huila and the Nevado del Tolima, and hotter zones in wide valleys lower than 400 meters above sea level that reach temperatures hotter than 40 degrees Celsius. The Tolima department includes three distinct regions: a mountainous region, occupied by the Cordillera Central; a plain, that corresponds to the valleys of the rivers Magdalena and Saldaña; and the region to the southeast which forms the western slope of the Cordillera Oriental, which contains the source of the Cabrera river. These two mountain ranges are separated by the Magdalena Valley, and join back together further south, where the river's head is located. [4]

Tectonic Plates

The greater part of the department of Tolima sits on the Continental Lithospheric Mesoproterozoic Grenville Province, which consists of the Cordillera Central, the Cordillera Oriental, and the mountain ranges of Santa Marta and la Macarena. Most of the territory is situated over Mesozoic deposits of the Late Triassic period (T3) and Early Jurassic (J1).

Volcanic activity is an issue that residents must deal with living in many parts of Tolima, due to its location over various geological faults. In 1985, for example, the Nevado de Ruiz erupted and caused the Armero tragedy, which caused the death of more than 23,000 people and destroyed the town of Armero. [5] The department's capital, Ibagué, is also built near a very large active volcano; the Nevado del Tolima. It stands at 5215 meters (17,110 ft) high, and last erupted in 1943. The Combeima River flows from this mountain and passes by Ibagué, part of which is situated close enough to the river to be put in danger by volcanic flows, should the volcano ever erupt again. [6]


The territory of Tolima is traversed from the south to north by the Magdalena River, of which the main rivers of the Tolima are tributary. Other rivers are the Saldaña River, the Cabrera, Coello, the Tetuán, the Gualí, the Rio Recio, and the Rio Prado. The Rio Prado dam is found on the river of the same name. This is the largest fresh water lake in central Colombia and is also an important tourist attraction. The Saldaña river is central to farming in the area; it has en area of influence of 9,800 square kilometers; equal to 41.5% of the departamental area, the longest reach in Tolima, and has the best flow to its irrigation district. It feeds into the crops in the cities of Saldaña and Purificación, as well as its tributaries; the Cucuana, Luisa, and Amoya rivers.


Plantation of rice in Saldana Cultivo de arroz.jpg
Plantation of rice in Saldaña

The economy of the Tolima is based on agriculture.

Industry in Tolima, as has been happening to the whole country, has been declining in its proportion of GDP, while services gain more importance, a phenomenon known as deindustrialization. Within the sector services Tolima excels in commerce, public administration, other services to the community and "reparaciones", which contribute respectively 11.2% and 9.1% of the GDP.

The GDP per inhabitant in Tolima, registered during 2002 a reduction of 0.4% in constant prices.

According to the results of the DANE census, the department of Tolima registered between the years of 2001 and 2002 a diminution, to constant prices, of 0.1% in its GDP, falling from Col$2.05 trillion in 2001 to Col$2.04 trillion in 2002. The result is explained by the fact that traditional sectors within the economic structure of the department such as the coffee registered a reduction of 22.4%, reducing 2 percentage points to the total variation, and others did not have important growth or presented/displayed diminutions in its added values. So it is the case of the activity branches: transport, commerce and repairs, industry and electricity gas and water, which jointly reduced 1.7 percentage points to the variation, whereas other services, rights and taxes, construction and farming rest, forestry and 3.6 percentage points fish were the branches with greater positive contribution to the variation of the GDP when contributing.


Music and the Arts

Music is the distinguishing cultural expression of Tolima. Its capital, Ibagué, is well known as "the musical city of Colombia", and is home to one of the nation's classic conservatoriums. The department also is famous for the Fiestas of San Pedro in Espinal, San Juan in Natagaima and in Ibagué, the Colombian Folkloric Festival and the "Concurso de Duetos Garzón y Collazos."

Tolima has produced many writers: Arturo Camacho Ramíez, Juan Lozano y Lozano, Diego Fallon, William Ospina, James Cañón, Martín Pomala, Luz Stella; painters: Darío Jiménez, Jorge Elías Triana, Darío Ortiz Robledo, Carlos Granada, Julio Fajardo; historians Eduardo Santa, Gonzalo Sanchez, Hermes Tovar Pinzón, Hernán Clavijo, Darío Ortiz Vidales.


The department is also widely recognised for its distinctive cuisine. Famous regional dishes include the Tamal Tolimense , a rice- and yellow pea-based dish with pork, egg, chicken, beef and vegetable filling, wrapped inside a plantain leaf; the Lechona , a yellow pea-and-meat-stuffed pork; Empanadas, small potato, rice and meat stuffed pastries, made with corn dough; Achiras (although not exclusively from this department) and Bizcocho calentano, smaller flour pastries; and Quesillo , a type of cheese wrapped in a plantain leaf. Drinks include the Avena, a cold oatmeal-based drink.


Tolima gave to the country ten presidents: Domingo Caycedo, José María Melo, Manuel Murillo Toro, José María Rojas Garrido, Miguel Abadía Méndez, Alfonso López Michelsen, Darío Echandía, Carlos Lozano y Lozano, Gabriel París, and Deogracias Fonseca.


The Department of Tolima groups its municipalities into six zones: northern, eastern, southern, center, southeastern and snowy.

Municipalities of Tolima Mapa de Tolima (politico).svg
Municipalities of Tolima

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nevado del Ruiz</span> Volcanic mountain in Colombia

Nevado del Ruiz, also known as La Mesa de Herveo is a volcano on the border of the departments of Caldas and Tolima in Colombia, about 129 km (80 mi) west of the capital city Bogotá. It is a stratovolcano composed of many layers of lava alternating with hardened volcanic ash and other pyroclastic rocks. Volcanic activity at Nevado del Ruiz began about two million years ago, during the Early Pleistocene or Late Pliocene, with three major eruptive periods. The current volcanic cone formed during the present eruptive period, which began 150,000 years ago.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cauca Department</span> Department of Colombia

Cauca Department is a Department of Southwestern Colombia. Located in the southwestern part of the country, facing the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Valle del Cauca Department to the north, Tolima Department to the northeast, Huila Department to the east, and Nariño Department to the south. Putumayo and Caqueta Departments border the southeast portion of Cauca Department as well. It covers a total area of 29,308 km2 (11,316 sq mi), the 13th largest in Colombia. Its capital is the city of Popayán. The offshore island of Malpelo belongs to the department. It is located in the southwest of the country, mainly in the Andean and Pacific regions plus a tiny part (Piamonte) in the Amazonian region. The area makes up 2.56% of the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huila Department</span> Department of Colombia

Huila is one of the departments of Colombia. It is located in the southwest of the country, and its capital is Neiva.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magdalena River</span> River in Colombia

The Magdalena River is the main river of Colombia, flowing northward about 1,528 kilometres (949 mi) through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as far as Honda, at the downstream base of its rapids. It flows through the Magdalena River Valley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ibagué</span> Municipio in Andean Region, Colombia

Ibagué is the capital of Tolima, one of the 32 departments that make up the Republic of Colombia. The city is located in the center of the country, on the central mountain range of the Colombian Andes, near Nevado del Tolima. It is one of the most populous cities in the country, with a population of 492,554, making it the eleventh most populous in Colombia, and with a population of 529,625 in the municipality. It was founded on 14 October 1550, by the Spanish captain Andrés López de Galarza. The city of Ibagué is divided into 13 communes and the rural area has 17 corregimientos. As the capital of the department of Tolima the city hosts the Government of Tolima, the Departmental Assembly, and the Attorney General's Office. It is the main epicenter of political, economic, administrative, business, art, culture, and tourism activities in the area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Armero tragedy</span> December 1985 volcanic eruption in Colombia

The Armero tragedy occurred following the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano in Tolima, Colombia, on November 13, 1985. The volcano's eruption after 69 years of dormancy caught nearby towns unaware, even though volcanological organizations had warned the government to evacuate the area after they detected volcanic activity two months earlier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Colombian coffee growing axis</span> Region of Colombia known for growing coffee

The Colombian coffee region, also known as the Coffee Triangle is a part of the Paisa region in the rural area of Colombia. It is famous for growing and producing the majority of Colombian coffee. There are four departments in the area: Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and Tolima. The most visited cities are Manizales, Armenia, Pereira, and Ibagué.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cordillera Central (Colombia)</span> Branch of the Colombian Andes

The Cordillera Central is the highest of the three branches of the Colombian Andes. The range extends from south to north dividing from the Colombian Massif in Cauca Department to the Serranía de San Lucas in Bolivar Departments. The highest peak is Nevado del Huila at 5,364 m (17,598 ft).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gaitana</span> Yalcon military leader

Gaitana, also known as Guaitipan, is referred to as La Gaitana and Cacica Gaitana, was a 16th-century Yalcon cacica from the region of Timaná, Huila, a leader who, in 1539–40, led the indigenous people of the Upper Magdalena River Valley in Colombia in armed resistance against the colonization by the Spanish. Her monument sculpted by Rodrigo Arenas stands in Neiva, the capital of the Huila Department in Colombia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nevado del Tolima</span> Active volcano in Colombia

The Nevado del Tolima is a Late Pleistocene to recently active andesitic stratovolcano located in the Tolima department, Colombia. The volcano lies south of Nevado del Ruiz volcano and is situated within the Los Nevados National Natural Park. The volcano, whose most recent activity dates to 1943 and last major eruption around 3600 years ago, overlies the Eocene El Bosque Batholith, dated at 49.1 ± 1.7 Ma.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nevado del Huila</span> Highest volcano in Colombia

Nevado del Huila at 5,364 metres (17,598 ft), is the highest volcano in Colombia, located at the tripoint of the departments of Huila, Tolima and Cauca. It is visible from the city of Cali. The andesitic volcano is located on top of the Ibagué Batholith.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Líbano, Tolima</span> Municipality in Tolima Department, Colombia

Líbano is a town and municipality in the Tolima department of Colombia. The population of the municipality was estimated at 36,231 as of 2020. Along with Honda, Líbano is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Líbano–Honda.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Los Nevados National Natural Park</span> Colombian national park in the Andes

Los Nevados National Natural Park is a national park located in the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes. The park surrounds the northern volcanic complex formed by Nevado del Ruiz, Nevado del Tolima, Nevado de Santa Isabel, the paramillos of Cisne, Santa Rosa and Quindío and the Cerro Bravo and Cerro Machín.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Panche people</span>

The Panche or Tolima is an indigenous group of people that lived in what is now Colombia. Their language is unclassified – and possibly unclassifiable – but may have been Cariban. They inhabited the southwestern parts of the department of Cundinamarca and the northeastern areas of the department of Tolima, close to the Magdalena River. At the time of the Spanish conquest, more than 30,000 Panche were living in what would become the New Kingdom of Granada. Early knowledge about the Panche has been compiled by scholar Pedro Simón. According to the latter, the word panche in their own Panche language means "cruel" and "murderer".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hernán Pérez de Quesada</span> Spanish conquistador

Hernán Pérez de Quesada, sometimes spelled as Quezada, was a Spanish conquistador. Second in command of the army of his elder brother, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, Hernán was part of the first European expedition towards the inner highlands of the Colombian Andes. The harsh journey, taking almost a year and many deaths, led through the modern departments Magdalena, Cesar, Santander, Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Huila of present-day Colombia between 1536 and 1539 and, without him, Meta, Caquetá and Putumayo of Colombia and northern Peru and Ecuador between 1540 and 1542.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Tocarema</span>

The Battle of Tocarema was a battle fought between an alliance of the troops of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and zipa of the Muisca Sagipa of the southern Muisca Confederation and the indigenous Panche. The battle took place on the afternoon of August 19 and the morning of August 20, 1538 in the vereda Tocarema of Cachipay, Cundinamarca, Colombia and resulted in a victory for the Spanish and Muisca, when captains Juan de Céspedes and Juan de Sanct Martín commanded two flanks of the conquistadors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magdalena Valley montane forests</span>

The Magdalena Valley montane forests (NT0136) is an ecoregion in the Andes mountains of central Colombia.

The Ibagué Fault is a major dextral slightly oblique strike-slip fault in the department of Tolima in central Colombia. The fault has a total length of 123.9 kilometres (77.0 mi) and runs along an average east-northeast to west-southwest strike of 067.9 ± 11 cross-cutting the Central Ranges of the Colombian Andes.

The Mulato-Getudo or Mulato-Jetudo Fault is a sinistral oblique thrust fault in the departments of Tolima, Caldas and Antioquia in central Colombia. The fault has a total length of 187.3 kilometres (116.4 mi) and runs along an average north-northeast to south-southwest strike of 016.7 ± 9 in the Middle Magdalena Valley and along the western foothills of the Central Ranges of the Colombian Andes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hondita Formation</span>

The Hondita Formation is a fossiliferous geological formation of the Upper Magdalena Valley (VSM) and surrounding Central and Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes, extending from Cundinamarca in the north to Huila and easternmost Tolima in the south. The lowermost unit of the Güagüaquí Group, a sequence of sandy limestones and shales, dates to the Late Cretaceous period; Turonian epoch, and has a maximum thickness of 90 metres (300 ft).


  1. "DANE". Archived from the original on 13 November 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  2. "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  3. "Reloj de Población". DANE. Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadísitica. Archived from the original on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  4. Gomez Molina, Eduardo; V. Little, Adrienne (August 1981). "Geoecology of the Andes: The Natural Science Basis for Research Planning". Mountain Research and Development. 1 (2): 118–122. JSTOR   3673119.
  5. "30 years since the Armero disaster: What lessons did this deadly tragedy reach the world?". Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  6. Thouret, Jean-Claude; Laforge, Christophe (December 1994). "Hazard Appraisal and Hazard-Zone Mapping of Flooding and Debris Flowage in the Rio Combeima Valley and Ibague City, Tolima Department, Colombia". GeoJournal. Springer. 34 (4): 407–413. JSTOR   41146332.