The Colombian Twelve’s Doors

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The entrance to Colombia, perspectives and development


The total dimension of Colombia is 2’070.408 kms², a big territory with borders in regions like the Amazon Forest, the Andean ranges, the Pacific Ocean, Central America and the Caribbean Sea. With such territory, Colombia is an obliged place to be crossed from the north to the south of the Americas. For this reason it has several entrances, but we can identify in special twelve, some of them to be developed, others to be improved and others to admire. “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.” (Revelations 21, 21) Here they are.

By Albeiro Rodas | Picture of the Salgar Castle in Barranquilla by Calila.

1. The door of Leticia, the pear of the Amazon Forest

Leticia by thiago.

The southern city of Colombia is Leticia, the capital of the Department of Amazon. It is in the middle of three countries: Colombia, Peru and Brazil and it is said that its streets are in the tree South American nations. Leticia is 1085 km far at the south of Bogotá. There is not a road from the capital to Leticia but there are air services to connect the city of the forest to the center of the nation. Besides the amaze of the rain forest with all its charm, the city is also famous for what it has to offer in ethnographic centers like the Museum of the Banco de la República. Leticia is also a fluvial port at the waters of the Amazon River. The next big center that connects with Leticia, Colombia is Manaus Brazil at the east.

2. The door of Ipiales, the pear of the Andes.

Santuario de las Lajas, Ipiales by Roberto SNXD.

The entrance to Colombia by the southwest is Ipiales, Nariño, just on the Pan-American road with very easy access either from Bogotá or from Quito. Ipiales is hold as modern city and one of the most important centers of the region. It is at 87 km at the southwest of Pasto and 2898 meters up the sea level with a weather of 11ºC. It is in Ipiales where you find one of the wonders of Colombia: Las Lajas Sanctuary, an amazing Catholic church carved in the abyss of a cliff.

3. The door of Tumaco, the pear of the south Pacific

Tumaco by Isacson.

The second Colombian port in the Pacific Ocean is Tumaco and we still in the Nariño Department. The city port is located in the Tumaco Bay in front to an archipelago of the same name. It is in the Morro island where is located the port and the name keeps relations with the Inca Empire since the Tumaco tribe as said to be an ancient migration from Peru. The city is 300 km at the west of Pasto with temperatures of 26ºC.

4. The door of Buenaventura, the pear of the Pacific

Buenaventura by Leon27.

The first Colombian port of Colombia in the Pacific Ocean is the city of Buenaventura, in the Valle del Cauca Department, halfway between Panama and Ecuador. Buenaventura is located 120 km at the west of Cali and it is one of the most important economic centers of the national economy where imports and exports come. It is said that about 2000 trucks leave and enter Buenaventura per day moving tons of merchandise. However its importance, the city waits more investment for its development and the attendance of a big population of about 300 thousand persons.

5. The closed door of Darien, the pear of the Americas

The Atrato River crossing the Darien Forest by Cisnecito.

The following door is closed: the ecological treasure of the Darien forest that stays between the territories of Colombia and Panama and cuts the dreamt continental project of unite the Pan-American Road. The road as a symbol of unity for the Americas and it starts with the Inter-American road from Alaska to Panama and continues in Colombia to Fireland in Chile and Argentina. But the proposal of developers of a road project through the forest has been a motive of discussions for long time. Environmental activists consider that the construction of a road will affect the delicate ecosystem of the forest with its unique species of animals and plants. At the same time, it would damage the natural environment of different aborigine peoples of the place. The discussion is open and it is needed an equilibrium between progress and ecological protection, even more now that the global worming is in the political agenda of the nations. A road from Panama to Colombia would mean also the directly connection of the Central America countries with the more stronger economies of South America that would contribute to a way for their developments. The door is close and the discussion is open.

6. The door of Cartagena de Indias, the pear of the Caribbean Sea

The Fortress of Cartagena de Indias by Piita.

Cartagena de Indias is one of the most popular cities not only in Colombia but also in the Caribbean Sea region. Cruisers have an obliged stop in the old colonial port with its fabulous walls built during the Spaniard Colony against pirates. The city was at the time one of the first ports of the Americas and it keeps its long history of legends, ancient balconies, palaces, churches and beaches that attract anybody who come to visit the city.

7. The door of Barranquilla, the Golden Door of Colombia

The Salgar Castel, Barranquilla by Calilas.

The first port of Colombia is in the Caribbean Sea and it is the dominium of Barranquilla, a city with a more recent history. It is the biggest door of the country and one of the most promising city economies being a sea and fluvial port (Puerto Colombia). During the first part of the 20th Century, Barranquilla was the second urban center of Colombia and it is becoming again an obliged city in the Colombian development.

8. The door of Maicao, the pear of Guajira

The Mezquite of Maicao by Tato Berrío.

As one of the most northern city of the South American continent, Maicao has come to be an important center for Colombia. A city born of the dessert, built by traders and the door to Venezuela, is also one of the main centers of the Arab migration. The second biggest Mesquite of South America is in Maicao and it is also at the middle of the territory of the Wayuu tribes, a people that live between Colombia and Venezuela sharing both nationalities, because they were already a nation before the two republics were born.

9. The door of San Andres, the pear of the sea

San Andrés island by Savilac.

As the northern region of Colombia, the San Andres and Providencia Archipelago Department makes that Colombia shakes hands with countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti and República Dominicana with borders in the Antillean Sea. Same as Cartagena, San Andres is an obliged port for cruisers in islands that offer amazing and beauty for visitors.

10. The door of Cucuta, the pear of East

A Mall in Cúcuta by SLRooki.

The door to Venezuela is Cúcuta, the capital of the Norte de Santander Department in one of the most busy international border of South America. Cúcuta is just half way Caracas and Bogotá, a growing city of almost 800 thousand persons becoming one of the biggest Colombian cities. It is located 625 km far at the northeast of Bogotá. Cucuta has its golden place in the history as the seat where it was redacted the “Constitution of Cucuta” on August 30, 1821, that created the Republic of New Granada (Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador).

11. The door of Arauca, the pear of Llanos

Arauca by Naranpacho.

Other growing city is Arauca, the capital of the Department of Arauca, also at the border with Venezuela. The city is at the center of the oil region of Colombia and the Llanos Orientales (Eastern Planes). The atraction for the oil economics caused that the city became one of the main centers of migration in Colombia in the last decades almost reaching a number of 100 thousand persons.

12. The door of Bogotá, the pear of the Republic

ElDorado Airport, Bogotá by Andrés Colmenares.

Logically the other big gate is the capital of Colombia, holding one of the biggest South American airports. About 1800 persons arrive montly from abroad to Bogotá by plain according with Areonáutica Civil (pdf), while about 200 pessengers arrive by land from other Colombian regions by land (statistics of 2003), but the number could increase during the last two years due to a best promotion and security in the country.

According with our list, that could have many observations of course, we can state that Colombia has the following doors to the following countries:

1. One door to Brazil and Peru: Leticia.
2. One door to Ecuador: Ipiales.
3. Two doors to the Pacific Ocean: Tumaco and Buenaventura.
4. One door to Panama: The Darien Forest, closed.
5. Three doors to the Caribbean Sea: Cartagena de Indias, Barranquilla and San Andrés.
6. Three doors to Venezuela: Maicao, Cúcuta and Arauca.
7. The big door: Bogotá.


* Boletín de estadísticas de turismo de Bogotá, primer semestre de 2003, Instituto Distrital de Cultura y Turismo de Bogotá. (pdf)

This article is a project in development.

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