Colombian Geography Facts, Andean Mountain Range (Andes Cordillera), Nevado del Ruiz




The Colombian territory is divided into six main natural regions:

1 – The Andean region
2 – The Caribbean Coastal region or the Atlantic Coastal region
3 – The Pacific Coastal region
4 – The Amazon region
5 – Los Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) or the Orinoquia region
6 – The insular area

1 - The Andean Region

The Andes Cordillera (mountain range) enters Colombia in the south-western part of the country and it is divided into two chains: the Cordillera Occidental (Western mountain range) and the Cordillera Central (Central mountain range). The Cordillera Central divides into two branches at Macizo Colombiano (the Colombian Massif) or Nudo de Almaguer, giving rise to the Cordillera Oriental (Eastern mountain range). The so-called Cinturón de Fuego del Pacífico (Pacific Belt of Fire), formed by numerous volcanoes, is located in this region. The Galeras volcano, near the city of Pasto, and the Nevado del Ruiz (also a volcano) are important for their recent activity.

Description of the Three Branches of the Andes Cordillera

The Cordillera Occidental (Western mountain range) With a length of nearly 1,200 km, the Cordillera Occidental runs northwards through the country from Nudo de los Pastos (the Pastos Massif) in Nariño department, Southwestern Colombia, to Nudo de Paramillo (the Paramillo Massif) in Cordoba department, situated in the northern region of the country.

Highest Mountains: :
Cumbal Volcano, 4,764 metres high.
Chile Volcano, 4,748 m high.
The Azufral Volcano, 4,070 m high.
Farallones de Cali, from 200 to 4,280 m high.
Tatamá Hill, 4,200 m high.
Paramillo Massif or Paramillo of the Sinú, from 100 to 3,960 m high.
Munchique Hill, 3,012 m high.

The Cordillera Central (Central mountain range) runs from the Nudo de Almaguer or Colombian Massif in Cauca department to the San Lucas mountain range in Bolívar, Northern Colombia.
It is the highest cordillera in the country with peaks over 5700 m high and has a length of more than 1,000 km.

Highest Mountains (Nevado = snow-covered
Nevado del Huila, 5,750 m high.
Nevado del Ruiz, 5,321 m high.
Nevado del Tolima, 5,216 m high.
Nevado de Santa Isabel, 5,150 m high.
Nevado del Cisne, 4,800 m high.
Puracé Volcano, 4,646 m high.
Cerro Negro, 4,470 m high.
Galeras Volcano, 4,276 m high.
Doña Juana Volcano, 4,250 m high.
The Santa Rosa de Osos Plateau, 2,640 m high.

The Cordillera Oriental (Eastern mountain range) is the longest mountain range in the country with a length of 1,200 km. This cordillera runs from the Nudo de Almaguer to the Perija mountain range in La Guajira department (Northeast Colombia), where it divides into two branches: The Motilones mountain range which runs towards the north, and the Táchira mountain range which crosses the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

Highest Mountains
Sierra nevada del Cocuy, 5,330 m high.
The Sumapaz moor, 3,820 m high.
The Pisba moor, 3,800 m high.
The Perijá mountain range, 3,750 m high.
The Choachí moor, 2,980 m high.

The savannah of Bogota, 2,600 m high, where the city of Bogota lies.
The savannah of Ubaté, 2,570 m high.
The valley of Sogamoso, 2,570 m high.

Inter-Andean Valleys
The Cauca River valley, situated between the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Central.
The Magdalena River valley, between the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Oriental.
The Atrato River valley which is found between the Cordillera Occidental and the Pacific mountain range.

2 - The Caribbean Region

Situated to the north of the Andean region, with an area of 132,288 square kilometres, this region comprises the coastal plain of the Caribbean seaboard and some separate mountainous zones.
Prominent in this area is the snow-covered mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest in Colombia. Its highest peaks are Simon Bolivar and Cristobal Colon which reach up to 5,775 metres (18,947 feet) above sea level.
The departments of Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Córdoba, La Guajira, Magdalena and Sucre lie in this region.

3 - The Pacific Coast Region

The region comprises the coastal plains of the Pacific seaboard to the west of the Cordillera Occidental. It stretches from the Colombian border with Panama to the border with Ecuador and has an area of 80,000 square kilometres. The Baudo mountain range, the Pacific mountain range, the Darien and the Katios National Park lie in the region. The Choco department and part of Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño departments are situated in this area.

4 - The Amazon Region

The Colombian Amazon region lies to the south of the territory between the Guaviare and Amazon Rivers, the Cordillera Oriental and Brazil. It has an area of 403,348 square kilometres. It is an area of rainforest and comprises the departments of Amazonas, Caquetá, Guainía, Putumayo and Vaupés. The Amacayacu Park, the Cahuinari Park and the Nukak Nature Preserve are known for their beauty and biodiversity.

5 - The Orinoquia

It is a fairly flat territory with low vegetation. It stretches from the skirts of the Cordillera Oriental to the border with Venezuela and from the Arauca River to the Guaviare River. It is an area of 310,000 square kilometres. The Macarena mountain range, approximately 2,000 m high, is situated in this region. The Arauca, Casanare, Meta, Vaupes and part of Guainia departments lie on the Eastern Plains.

6 – The Insular Area

The Caribbean insular area is made up of small coastal islands and the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina which are surrounded by sandbanks and important cays.

The Pacific insular area covers Malpelo and Gorgona islands.

LAND ELEVATIONS (Sierra = mountain chain - Serranía = mountainous region)

Besides the Andean region described previously, the most important land elevations are:

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Location: The Caribbean Coastal plains. It extends through the departments of Magdalena, Cesar and La Guajira
Elevation: 5,775 metres (18,947 feet) above the sea level. Highest peak: Cristobal Colon followed by Simon Bolivar. It is the highest snow-covered mountain mass in Colombia.
Area: 17,000 square kilometres.

Montes de María  or San Jacinto mountain chain
Location: Between Bolivar and Sucre departments on the Caribbean Coastal plains.
Elevation: 810 metres

Serranía de la Macuira
Location: La Guajira department.
Elevation: 810 metres.
Area: 250 square kilometres.

Serranía del Darién
Location: Chocó department. Border region between Colombia and Panama.
Elevation:1,910 metres in Tacurcuna Hill.

Serranía del Baudó
Location: Chocó department, close to the Pacific Ocean coast. It separates
the basins of the Baudó and Atrato Rivers. It runs parallel to the coast.
Elevation: 1,810 metres

Serranía  de La Macarena
Location: Meta department, to the southeast of the Cordillera Oriental
Elevation: About 2,000 metres.
Area: 625 square kilometres.

Serranía del Perijá or Serranía de los Motilones in the southern area.
Location: Northeastern Colombia. It serves as a partial boundary with Venezuela between La Guajira and Norte de Santander departments.
Elevation: 287 metres.

Southeastern elevations
Location: The Eastern Plains. Widespread hills such as the Iguaje and Yambi low plateaus, and the Araracuara mountain range.




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