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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 8 departments located contiguous to the Caribbean.[1] It's the second most populated region in the country after Andean Region with approximately 11 million residents according to the Colombian Census 2018.[2] The area covers a total land area of 110,000 km2 (42,000 sq mi), including the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina in the Caribbean Sea.[1]

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.[3] The administration of the region is covered by 8 department governments: Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, Magdalena, La Guajira and San Andrés and Providencia. These 8 departments also cover approximately 182 municipalities, 1093 corregimientos and 493 caserios according to the 2018 Census by DANE Colombia.[4] Most of its inhabitants speak a dialect of Caribbean Spanish with variations within its subregions.[5]

Administrative divisions

See also: Departments of Colombia

View of Barranquilla's skyline. The city is considered the capital of the Colombian Caribbean Region.

Eight departments form the Caribbean region<:

Department Capital

Partial territory pertaining to:


It is considered the only tri-racial region, giving it the status of the most diverse and mixed region in the country, as the predominant ethnic group in the region is the Pardo, a mixture of European, mainly Spanish, the indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian unlike the other regions, where predominantly White, Castizo and Mestizo of Colombia such as Andean Region and Orinoquia Region and black as is the case of the Pacific Region. During the 19th and 20th century, a wave of immigrants came from Europe and the Middle East, mostly from Lebanon, Italy, Germany, France, Ireland, Syria, Palestine . A second wave followed during World War II from other parts of Europe such as Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Belgium, Armenia, Croatia and Jews from other countries affected by the war. There were also important settlements of British, White Americans, and Canadians who founded dozens schools such as Marymount International School Barranquilla, Colegio Karl C. Parrish, Colegio Jorge Washington, Colegio Albania, Colegio Británico de Cartagena, Colegio Británico de Monteria, Altamira International School, British International School Barranquilla, Boston International School Barranquilla, American School Barranquilla, Bureche School of Santa Marta, and Cartagena International School among many others across the region. Most of the immigrants settled in the main urban centers or trade port towns such as in Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Monteria, Sincelejo, Santa Cruz de Mompox, Santa Cruz de Lorica, 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.

Population according to 2018 Census Report by DANE[2][4]
Department 2018 Census 2005 Census Capital
Atlántico 2,835,509 2,112,001 Barranquilla
Bolívar 2,258,929 1,836,640 Cartagena de Indias
Cesar 1,359,719 878,437 Valledupar
Córdoba 1,868,166 1,462,909 Montería
La Guajira 1,015,909 655,943 Riohacha
Magdalena 1,476,665 1,136,819 Santa Marta
San Andrés and Providencia 65,663 55,426 San Andrés
Sucre 981,727 762,263 Sincelejo
Total Caribbean 11,796,624 8,900,438


The economy of the Caribbean region is based mainly in the exploitation of natural resources such as 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.


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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

See also: Music of Colombia

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.

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. [1]


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 i, Colombia|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). Cazuela de mariscos, a seafood stew, is also a typical dish found in the region.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b (in Spanish) MEMO: Natural Regions of Colombia Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 22 August 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Censo General 2018 - Proyecciones departamentales de población 2018-2050". Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística. Archived from the original (XLSX) on 2021-03-04. Retrieved 2023-09-15.
  3. ^ "Ensayos sobre Economía Regional - Composición de la economía de la región Caribe de Colombia | Banco de la República". Retrieved 2023-11-25.
  4. ^ a b DANE (8 August 2019). "Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2018 y desafíos socioeconómicos para la región Caribe" (PDF). DANE. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-11-15. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Atlas lingüístico y etnográfico de Colombia". Retrieved 2023-11-25.
  6. ^ "Turismo en el Departamento del ANTIOQUIA, Colombia". Retrieved 2023-11-25.
  7. ^ "Cazuela de mariscos". Periódico El Campesino – La voz del campo colombiano. 2017-07-27. Retrieved 2022-01-25.