7 junio, 2024

Pacific Region: what it is, characteristics, relief, climate, culture

We tell you about the Colombian Pacific Region. We talk about its location, its main characteristics, its climate, economy, hydrography, relief, political-territorial division and culture.

What is the Pacific region?

The Pacific region is one of the six natural regions of Colombia. It is made up of five departments that together cover some 1,300 km of coastline facing the Pacific Ocean -hence its name- from Panama (in the north) to the border with Ecuador (in the south).

This region is well known for its enormous diversity, both in terms of flora and fauna, culture, race and identity.

It is a geographical entity that is comprised of municipalities from five different departments: Chocó (most of it), Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.

It has an important region of jungle vegetation and is home to important river basins that flow into the Pacific Ocean.

Despite being the entry and exit gate for an important part of Colombian international trade and being a place for gold mining, the Pacific region is one of the most neglected and vulnerable regions of the country, with the highest percentages of rural populations and with the highest poverty rates.

This is probably due to various factors such as:

The climate, which is extremely humid most of the year.
The relative geographic isolation of the region – which is separated from the rest of the country by the Western Cordillera, which is part of the Andes.
To the poorly developed road infrastructure, which prevents efficient communication between the region and the rest of the country, particularly with the central region.
To the armed conflict that has historically characterized the region.

Location

The Colombian Pacific region is located in the western fringe of the country, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and continentally delimited (towards the east) by the Andean region. In addition, it borders to the north with Panama and the Caribbean region and to the south with Ecuador.

The five departments that make up the Colombian Pacific add up to more than 1,000 km of oceanic coastline and the total area of ​​the region comprises more than 83,000 km².

The northern part of this region is characterized by being a jungle area, while the southern part is the one that houses the beaches bathed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, full of mangroves and cliffs.

Characteristics of the Pacific region

– It is one of the regions with the highest levels of precipitation in the Colombian territory.

– It is the most humid region of Colombia and is among the most humid in the world.

– It has enormous biodiversity, both in terms of fauna and flora.

– It is also characterized by cultural and racial diversity, since the Pacific region not only contains 30% of the Colombian indigenous population, but is also home to more than 40% of the country’s Afro population, along with whites and mongrels.

– Its coasts add up to almost 50% of all the coastal areas of Colombia, which is why this region is home to the most important import and export ports in the territory.

– It also has some of the highest poverty rates in Colombia, with a large part of its population living in rural areas and in areas generally abandoned from a political point of view.

– Its forested areas represent approximately 15% of those of the entire country.

– Poverty in this region is considerably related to the armed conflict, which increases not only poverty, but also inequality and social vulnerability.

– Thanks to its climate and geographical location, a large part of the Colombian Pacific region (almost 80%) remains “virgin” in terms of transformation and anthropological intervention, which makes it home to 4 protected national parks and biodiversity sanctuaries.

Climate of the Pacific region

The Pacific region is, as we have already mentioned, one of the most humid regions of Colombia and the world, whose climate is humid tropical and monsoonal.

Temperature

Average annual temperatures in this region vary between 26°C and almost 40°C, depending on the area.

The northern zone usually registers the highest temperature values, while the southern zone does not present such extreme temperatures (between 25 and 26°C); being the minimum temperature of the entire region close to 21°C.

Thus, it is said that 76% of the region’s surface is subject to a climate with temperatures higher than 25°C (warm climate), while 16% has temperatures between 15 and 25°C (medium climate) and The remaining 8% is usually found between 7 and 15°C (cold weather).

Humidity and precipitation

The period of greatest humidity (relative humidity of almost 100%) in the year corresponds to the months between August and June, while usually the months of low humidity are only June, July and part of August.

Precipitation tends to vary with the area, but some specialists have defined different types of precipitation, being the extreme types sub-pluvial with figures between 730 and 2,025 mm per year, and super-pluvial, with values ​​between 12,300 and 13,600 mm per year.

Economy

Although it is considered that the economy of the Colombian Pacific region is one of the most backward in the national territory, it is based on the production of Diesel, gold and platinum mining, tourism, livestock, commerce, agriculture and the artisanal and industrial fishing.

As a whole, the economic processes of this region contribute less than 15% to the gross domestic product, although its natural wealth could be better used in economic terms.

Regarding agriculture, the region is characterized by the production at moderate scales (due to the characteristics of the soil and relief) of plantain, banana and wax palm, as well as cocoa, beans, coffee, peanuts, corn, sugar cane, tobacco, barley and soybeans.

As for mining, this is usually carried out in an «artisanal» way, a process that involves many minors and multinational companies in charge of exporting the metals, so there is usually a marked inequality in terms of the distribution of the riches.

Cow farming is not the most common (only in the north and south of the region), but pig farming is.

Part of the economy also revolves around logging to obtain wood and derivative products for: perfumery, construction, firewood, paper, coal, etc.

Rivers of the Pacific region

An important characteristic of the Colombian Pacific region has to do with the presence of a large number of rivers, which usually make their way to their mouth in the Pacific Ocean.

Among the most important rivers (due to their flow) are:

– Atrato River (612 km)

– San Juan River (380 km)

– Patia River (400 km)

– Baudo River (150 km)

– Mira River (328 km)

– Micay River (235 km)

– Anchicaya River (100 km)

– Naya River (120 km)

– Dagua River (101 km)

– Telembi River

– Iscuandé River

– Calima River

– Timbiqui River

– Yurumangui River

Relief

The Colombian Pacific covers a space between 10 and 200 km wide from the Pacific Ocean coast to the Andean region (continental territory), with altitudes, therefore, from sea level to the height that corresponds to the Andes mountain range. Colombians.

We can say, specifically, that the Pacific region can be divided into two main blocks according to its relief: the Pacific coast and the Andean zone.

The Pacific coast corresponds to the narrow coastal margin of the region, which is characterized by territories at sea level, low-lying mountains and hills, and valleys defined by rivers.

The northern zone of the Pacific region is made up of medium height mountain ranges, such as those represented by the Serranía del Baudó, which separates the region from Panamanian territory and is between 0 and 500 meters above sea level.

The Andean zone, on the other hand, separates the coastal zone from the rest of the region through the Western Cordillera, which is one of the three branches of the Colombian Andes, whose maximum height corresponds to about 4,200 meters above sea level (with averages close to at 2,000 masl).

Departments and cities

In geopolitical terms, the Colombian Pacific region is made up of municipalities from five different departments: El Chocó, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.

collided

The 23 municipalities of the department of Chocó belong to the Colombian Pacific region, the most important cities being Quibdó (over 110,000 inhabitants), Alto Baudó (just over 38,000 inhabitants) and Medio Atrato (31,400 inhabitants).

antioch

Of this important Colombian department, only two of its 125 municipalities belong to the Pacific region: Murindó and Vigía del Fuerte, both belonging to the Urabá area of ​​said department.

Cauca’s Valley

This department has 42 municipalities, of which only two belong to the Pacific region: Buenaventura and Dagua.

Buenaventura is one of the most important cities in the region, given that it has one of the most important seaports in the entire country. Cali, another very important city in the region, is the link between the port of Buenaventura and the industrial center of the nation.

Cauca

In the department of Cauca, only three municipalities are part of the Pacific region: López de Micay, Timbiquí and Guapí. In this department the most important cities are Popayán (almost 320,000 inhabitants) and Guapí (approximately 30,000 inhabitants).

Narino

The municipalities of Barbacoas, El Charco, Francisco Pizarro, La Tola, Magüi, Mosquera, Olaya Herrera, Roberto Payán, Santa Bárbara and Tumaco belong to the Colombian Pacific region.

The city of Tumaco (220,000 inhabitants) is among the most important in this department for the Pacific region.

Culture

Holidays and traditions

The festivals and traditions of the region can vary considerably between municipalities and departments, however, some important celebrations can be distinguished:

– Festivities of San Pacho, in Chocó (September 20)

– Currulao Festival (Tumaco)

– Fire Carnival (Tumaco)

– Procession of the Virgin of Atocha

– Buenaventura Pacific Coast Folk Festival

– Carnival of Blacks and Whites

– Holy Week (important Catholic celebration, Popayán)

– Cali Fair

Gastronomy

One of the main cultural attractions of the Pacific region has to do with its gastronomy, which is mainly based on seafood.

A large part of the dishes include fried foods (fish, pork, plantains, etc.) but many boiled, stews and rice dishes are also consumed. Much of the gastronomy contemplates the fusion between vegetables, white meats and fruits such as coconut, lulo and others.

Seafood ceviches, fish in coconut sauces and juices and sweets with panela are usually popular, where the great Afro-Colombian influence in the region is evident.

Typical music

The enormous musical diversity of the Pacific region is a reflection of its characteristic cultural diversity, as well as the diversity…

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