8 junio, 2024

Colombian plains: what they are, main regions

What are the plains of Colombia?

The Colombian plains They are the regions that have low altitude (between 0 and 1,000 masl). The main plains of Colombia are located in the Caribbean, the Orinoquia, the Amazon and the Pacific.

About 70% of the Colombian territory is made up of plains that are characterized by having one of the greatest plant biodiversities in the world, associated with a complex pattern of climate, soils, and topography.

A large part of these ecosystems have been considered as priority for protection according to the World Conservation Fund.

Vegetation includes the mangroves of the Pacific coast, the scrubland of the Guajira desert, the savannah grasslands and gallery ecosystems of the Atlantic lowlands and eastern plains, the Amazon rainforest and the Chocó region, and even environments of the Andean slopes.

Most important plains of Colombia

Caribbean plain

Location: North of the country.
Extension: 142,000 km2

Longitudinally, it extends from the Gulf of Urabá to the Guajira peninsula. Transversally, from the last foothills of the mountain ranges to the Caribbean coast.

The Caribbean lowland region is similar to the shape of a triangle, the longest side of which is the coast. The Caribbean savannahs are generally below 200 m, and are subject to an isothermal regime, that is, to few temperature variations, on average 28 °C, and rainfall around 2,040 mm.

Much of the western surface of this plain is covered by tree formations, among which the campano (Pithecellobium saman) and the corozo (Bactris guineensis).

The area is home to a fifth of the Colombian population, concentrated in Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta, the country’s main Caribbean ports.

Livestock rearing and mixed farming are the traditional economic activities, but large-scale commercial farming, especially of rice, cotton, and bananas, has also been successful.

Irrigation has expanded since the mid-20th century, especially in the Sinú and César valleys. Bananas are grown for export in the Urabá region.

Pacific plain

Location: West of the country.
Extension: 83,170 km2.

Longitudinally, it extends from the Gulf of Urabá to the border with Ecuador and Panama. Transversally, from the Western Cordillera to the Pacific coast.

It is a swampy and densely forested region that, due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, is characterized by humid climates with annual rainfall between 1,100 and 1,700 mm, as well as high average temperatures that range between 24 and 28 °C throughout the region.

Due to its great biodiversity, it has been classified as one of the richest areas on the planet and is home to four national parks:

– Utria National Natural Park.

– Gorgona Natural National Park.

– Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

– Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park.

The department of Chocó is one of the most distinctive in the region and stands out for being one of the wettest places in the world and with the greatest biodiversity. It is a stretch of tropical mangroves along the Pacific coast and the Atrato River, 885 kilometers long.

The tropical rainforest and the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean combine to form a rich natural environment for plants and animals. More than 450 of the 1,800 species of birds that inhabit Colombia live in the Chocó.

It is also the habitat of monkeys, raccoons, deer and peccaries. Large rodents such as agoutis, pacas, and capybaras inhabit the swampy areas. Wild cats like pumas and jaguars roam these forests, while crocodiles and manatees swim in these swamps.

Orinoquia plain

Location: east of the country.
Extension: 250,000 km2.

Longitudinally, it covers from Arauca to the department of Guaviare. Crosswise, from the Eastern Cordillera to the Orinoco River.

The Eastern Plains of Colombia are made up of an extensive savannah and a part of the Orinoco River basin, known as Orinoquia.

A vast network of rivers and wetlands offer world-class birding opportunities. About 470 species inhabit the region and on a good day of observation you can see up to 130 species. One of the most peculiar is the hoatzín, or water guacharaca.

Large tributaries of the Orinoco River, including the Meta, Guaviare, and Vichada, traverse these plains carrying sediments from the flat, sandy savannahs to the Orinoco delta in Venezuela.

Despite its vast territorial extension, only 2% of the Colombian population lives in the regions of the Eastern Plains and the Amazon jungle.

The city of Villavicencio is the largest city in the region. Villavicencio is located at the foot of the Eastern Cordillera, just 110 kilometers from Bogotá. Farmers use the grasses that grow on these plains to feed their cattle.

The highest temperatures in the country are recorded in these areas, with annual rainfall ranging from 1,020 to 1,780 mm, but under a monsoon regime, with a wet season between May and October, and a dry season from November to April.

Amazon plain

Location: south east of the country.
Extension: 380,000 km2.

Longitudinally, it stretches from the Guaviare River to the Putumayo River, which forms a large part of Colombia’s border with Ecuador and Peru. Crosswise, from the foothills of the Eastern Cordillera to the Brazilian border.

This region is covered in lush vegetation and is home to more species of animals than any other place on Earth.

Butterflies and other insects fly through the forest. Jungle birds such as quetzals, parrots, macaws and toucans nest among the trees. Sloths and primates hang from the branches of tropical trees.

Indigenous communities of different peoples, such as the Huitotos, Ingas, Tucanos, and Nukak, plant crops, fish, and hunt in these savannahs.

Gold, coal and oil reserves are also found in the area. Much of the plain is covered in jungle, receiving rainfall of up to 2,500 mm each year.


The Caribbean Plain. Recovered from elespectador.com.
Zenú hydraulic system. Retrieved from banrepcultural.org.

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