MundoAndino Home : Andes Colombia Guide at Mundo Andino


Barranquilla, an industrial, portuary, and special district, is a city and municipality located in northern Colombia by the Caribbean Sea. The capital of the Atlantico Department, it is the largest industrial city and port in the Colombian Caribbean region. It lies strategically by the delta of the Magdalena River, serving as port for river and maritime transportation. It is also known as the cradle of Colombian aviation and for its carnival.

It is known as Colombia's Golden Gate as well as La Arenosa (the Sandy City). While the city bears no established record of its foundation, its settlement or foundation can be traced back to at least 1629. However, its residents traditionally have come to commemorate the city's "birthday" as the date when Barranquilla was legally established as a village, April 7, 1813. By 1834 Barranquilla had a population of 11,212 (official census), which made it slightly smaller than Santa Marta and not quite half the size of Cartagena.Nichols, Theodore E. (May 1954) "The Rise of Barranquilla" The Hispanic American Historical Review 34(2): pp. 158-174 As Barranquilla became an important port, it also served as a haven for immigrants from Europe during World War I and World War II, and for different waves of immigrants from the Middle East and Asia.

Barranquilla was Colombia's first port and is proud of its level of industrialization and modernity, which earned it the name of '''Colombia's Golden Gate.''' The first airport in South America was also built in Barranquilla, and the world's second oldest commercial airline doing business today was founded there, SCADTA (now known as Avianca). The Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, the first airport built in South America (1919), is served by domestic and international flights.

In the 1940s, Barranquilla was the second largest city in Colombia and one of the most modern cities on the Caribbean and South America, but sadly later local administrations, given to widespread corruption, brought about a decline in the standard of living. As government investment increased in other Colombian cities, Barranquilla's national stature was surpassed. Nowadays, Barranquilla is Colombia's fourth largest city after Bogota (capital), Medellin, and Cali as well as the most populated city on the Atlantic coast of Colombia with 2.6% of the country's population, 1,112,837 people. [*]

Origins and colonial period

The territory of Barranquilla was first noted by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes, dating from 1533. He described it as part of the route of Pedro de Heredia, founder of Cartagena de Indias, just a few weeks before founding that city, who affirmed that the Magdalena river's mouths served as dock for Indian canoes belonging the Governorate of Santa Marta.

The Kamash Indians (castilianized as Camacho or Camach) are known to have been the first settlers of Barranquilla. In the 16th century, the Spanish Crown created an encomienda for the captain Domingo de Santa Cruz, as reward for his military performance. This Encomienda disappeared in 1559 when it passed to dona Ana Ximenez, widow of Santa Cruz. This lady suffered stealing by the second Encomendero of Galapa, Don Pedro de Barros I. He arbitrarily took all the work force of the Encomienda of Camacho to his own Encomienda.

Many years after, between 1627 and 1637, the Estate San Nicolas de Tolentino was founded by Nicolas de Barros y de la Guerra, great-grandson of don Pedro de Barros I, second Encomendero of Galapa. The Estate was established on the shores of La Tablaza stream. In this Estate, don Nicolas de Barros allowed his free workers to build their own houses so they could work on their own land and support their families. Moreover, after don Nicolas death, his descendants allowed another sort of resident: people who, for reasons of health, age or a relationship with the owner, were allowed to live within the Estate. These included natives from Malambo and Galapa. By 1681, the Estate was considered a town. The Estate and its nearby sites were known as Barrancas de San Nicolas.


The city's topographical layout is fairly simple: to the east, it's bordered by the Magdalena river; to the west, it's bordered by a bypass called the Circunvalar. The city grid is divided in the typical Colombian way: calles and carreras . Downtown is located near the river, on the eastern edge of town. The two main axes of the city are Olaya Herrera Avenue, which goes from downtown to the western edge of town, becoming the highway to nearby Cartagena de Indias, and Murillo Street, which goes from the southern, working-class neighborhoods to the city's downtown. Upper and middle-class neighborhoods are to the west and north of the city.


Barranquilla's has a tropical savanna climate (Aw) according to Koppen climate classification; it is hot all-year-round, with high levels of Relative Humidity. Average temperature is around 28.4C (85F). Daytime temperature usually remains around 32C (90F). Nevertheless, from late November to early April, trade winds more or less cool it to a more comfortable temperature during daylight. During evening and through the night, temperature can change due to the strong winds it receives. Rainy seasons are from April to June and from August to November, when some streets flood producing "arroyos" (streams) that can be very dangerous, given the lack of appropriate rain drainage in some sectors of town.


Barranquilla is home to a thriving trading industry, as well as to a number of staples of the Colombian economy, such as Bavaria S.A., Carulla-Vivero, Monomeros, Olimpica y SAO, Expreso Brasilia S.A. and Cementos Argos. The city is the birthplace of Grupo Santo Domingo, one of the major business conglomerates in Colombia.


Barranquilla is home to a number of universities, like Universidad del Norte, Universidad del Atlantico, Universidad Metropolitana, Universidad Autonoma del Caribe, Universidad Simon Bolivar, and the Corporacion Universitaria de la Costa. The city has one of highest literacy rates in the country96.4 percentas well as one of the highest rates of bilingualism in Colombia [*]. Marymount School,Colegio Hebreo Union, Lyndon B. Johnson School, Altamira International School, Colegio Karl C. Parrish, and British International College are a few of the local bilingual schools.


The city's two main newspapers are El Heraldo [*] and La Libertad. Other dailies include newspapers of nationwide distribution, such as Bogota's El Tiempo [*]. The local TV channel is Colombia's Caribbean regional network, Telecaribe.

Local radio includes the customary assortment of tropical music and news. The two main highbrow alternatives, Radiodifusora Nacional de Colombia and Uninorte FM Estereo, broadcast on 640 AM and 103.1 FM, respectively.


Public transportation in Barranquilla mainly consists of buses and taxis. The main bus terminal is located near the southern edge of town, at the end of Murillo Street. A bus rapid transit system called Transmetro, similar to Bogota's TransMilenio, will begin operating by late 2007.

Recently, an illegal form of transportation denominated mototaxismo developed. A regular motorcycle is used to carry a passenger for a lower fare than a bus or taxi. This unregulated and potentially dangerous practice has led to protests by the legally operating transport companies and drove many of them into bankruptcy.

The city's airport, the Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, receives domestic and international flights. Domestic flights are mainly operated by Avianca.

The port of Barranquilla is located by the Magdalena River, and accessible to ships coming from the sea thanks to dredge ships, that constantly make way for the ship canals, named Canal de Acceso (Access Canal).



Barranquilla was home to Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez during his early years as journalist and bears substantial weight on his literary production. Garcia Marquez's old bohemian hangout, La Cueva, has been restored and is open to the public as an artsy bar. It was here that the writer met with the Grupo de Barranquilla, an informal group of local writers and journalists.


Barranquilla is lovingly known as Curramba, La Bella . Great musicians hail from Barranquilla, like international recording artist Shakira and Billboard-award winning Rock Band The Monas. Other local celebrities include Esthercita Forero, a popular composer and singer, also known as "The Bride of Barranquilla."

The city celebrates the Festival of Orchestras, groups who compete for the Congo de Oro.

The city has been a mecca for Caribbean traditional music (rhythms like cumbia which date to the Spanish colonization era) as well as a place for creation of new rhythms, especially tropical ones. In the first half of the 20th century, the city was the birthplace of Merecumbe, Porro, Raspacanilla, and so on, and was a critical point in terms of the spreading of Cuban salsa throughout South America.

Other events in the city are "Barranquijazz" (a jazz festival and the "Miche Rock Festival", a small and young, yet ever growing event which supports local and regional rock, metal, punk rock and alternative rock bands. These have been in the underground scene of the city. The Miche Rock Festival has been organized for less than a decade but has received huge support from local audiences. The city also has numerous salsa music spots.


Though baseball is popular, the locals fervently follow Barranquilla's soccer team, Atletico Junior. The team plays at the Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez, one of the largest soccer stadiums in the Americas.

San Francisco Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria was born in Barranquilla.

Shooting sports, Basketball, Auto racing, Boxing, Golf and tennis tournaments also take place in the city.


In 2006, the city unveiled a massive six-ton statue of famous local Shakira after she attended the groundbreaking ceremony of a school she is sponsoring in La Playa, a depressed suburb of Barranquilla. [*]. The Teatro Municipal Amira de la Rosa is the city's main cultural scenario. Barranquilla is also home to the Cinemateca del Caribe, the Alliance Francaise (Barranquilla Chapter), the Centro Cultural Avianca, and the Centro Colombo Americano. Performances by touring bands or artists are usually held at the city's Coliseo Cubierto or within the facilities of the local Country Club.

Sofia Vergara, a Latin TV actress who works mainly in US-based shows and sitcoms, was also born in the city.

Back in the 1940s the city lived a passionate modern art development: Alejandro Obregon, personal friend of Gabriel Garcia Marquez lived in Barranquilla and Cartagena and many of the institutional buildings of that time have unique relation with modern artist frescos and wall paintings, sculptures and color design. A type of Aesthetics now lost but present in many houses of that time include many unique artwork in the entrance access.

The city has also a Modern Art Museum, the MAMB (Museo de Arte Moderno de Barranquilla)as well as numerous art Galleries.

There is an art carnival as well which takes place in April, called Carnaval Internacional de las Artes (International Arts Carnival).


Nina Garcia, a fashion director at Marie Claire and judge on the Bravo reality television program Project Runway, was also born in this city. The city is also developing a fashion industry with renowned fashion designers Silvia Tcherassi, Amalin de Hazbun, Judy Hazbun and Paola Dangond.


Barranquilla's Carnival is celebrated for four days before Ash Wednesday. It is broadly recognized as one of the world's largest carnivals; it is third only to the carnival of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and [[Mexican|Carnaval de Veracruz in Mexico. In November 2003, UNESCO proclaimed it as one of 28 different "masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity."

Sister cities

Sister cities of Barranquilla include:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tampa, Florida

Nanjing, People's Republic of China

Kaohsiung City, Republic of China (Taiwan)

Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Capitals of Colombian Departments or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Barranquilla

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009