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Guajira Peninsula

Guajira Peninsula , is a peninsula in northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela in the Caribbean sea. It is the northernmost peninsula in South America and has an area of 25,000 km (5500 square miles) extending from the Manaure Bay (Colombia) to the Calabozo Ensenada in the Gulf of Venezuela (Venezuela), and from the Caribbean Sea to the Serrania del Perija mountains range. It was the subject of a dispute between Venezuela and Colombia in 1891, and on arbitration was awarded to the latter and joined to its Magdalena Department. Nowadays, most of the territory is part of Colombia, making part of the Department of La Guajira, while the remaining strip pertains to the Venezuelan State of Zulia. The northern most part of the peninsula is called Punta Gallinas (12 28 N) and is also considered the northernmost part of mainland South America.


The scenery of Guajira is very picturesque; the temperature in the plains is very high, but temperate in the mountains.

The region receives the flow of the trade winds from the northern hemisphere and forms along the northeastern coast of Venezuela and the Antilles, the Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub. The Trade winds cause a resurgence of the deep littoral waters and makes the sea more rich in living species on the western side of the peninsula. The northeastern flank of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range acts as a barrier that generates abundant rainfall in its steps and originate the Rancheria River, the only major river in the area. Climate and vegetation varies from south to north, presenting a hyper humid jungle weather in the southern part (3000 mm a year) to the desertic areas in the north (300 mm a year).

In the northern area there is a small range of mountains called Macuira that reaches 900 m over sea level that trap some of the Trade winds and cause mist. Most of the mountain range is a protected area called National Natural Park of Macuira. Nearby there is also the 80 km Flamingos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary.


The peninsula is mainly inhabited by members of the native tribe of the Wayuus which use the plains to raise cattle, sheeps, goats and horses. The descendants of the Spanish colonizers settled in the southeastern part of the peninsula (sometimes referred to as the Padilla Province) were the land is more fertile due to the proximity to other river basins, such as the cesar river basin and is subject to large plantations of cotton, sorghum and cattle ranching.

Since the 1980s the central area of the peninsula was subject to the exploration and exploitation of coal and natural gas in the area of Cerrejon and of oil in the littoral. A popular ecotourism destination in the area is Cabo de la Vela

Missionary history

The mission of Goajira was erected by Pope Pius X on 17 January 1905, into a vicariate Apostolic, dependent on the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. Mgr Attanasio Maria Vincenzo Soler-Royo, O.F.M. Cap., was appointed to the vicariate, as titular Bishop of Citharizum, on 18 April, 1907. The early 20th century missionaries described the inhabitants of the area as "tall and well made. Formerly they were very intractable, but the Capuchins, who were in charge of the Catholic missions, have had a great influence over them, and large numbers have been converted. The Goajira Indians are seafarers who fish for pearls. Their primary diet is said to consist of fish, turtle meat, turtle eggs and big green lizards, most likely Iguanas. Men and women are dressed only in a loincloth which covers their crotch. The chief towns are Paraguaipoa, Calabacito, Maricha, Marocaso and Soldado" Today, the catholic education is no longer mandatory to the indigenous people, who are allowed to educate their children in the Wayuu traditions and language (Wayuunaiki)

See also

Distocyclus goajira, an Electric fish

T-63 Goajira, a ship the of the Navy of Venezuela

Guajira Department, Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub and La Guajira Desert




Henri Candelier. 1892. Riohacha y los Indios Guajiros. Cronica de un viajero y explorador frances quien durante tres anos, 1889-1892, recorrio La Guajira.

Martha Ligia Castellanos, Luis Carlos Pardo L. 2000. Caracterizacion y primera aproximacion a la determinacion del indice de biodiversidad en los suelos de la cuenca del arroyo Mekijanao, Serrania de la Macuira, Alta Guajira. En: Juan Carlos Perez (editor) X Congreso Nacional de la Ciencia del Suelo. Programa y resumenes. El suelo un componente del medio natural. Medellin, Octubre 11 al 13 de 2000

Edith Gonzalez, Gabriel Guillot, Nestor Miranda, Diana Pombo (editores). 1990. Perfil Ambiental de Colombia. Colciencias. Escala. Bogota.

Instituto Geografico Agustin Codazzi. 1996. Diccionario Geografico de Colombia. Edicion en CD-ROM. Bogota, Colombia.

Thomas Stadtmuller. 1987. Cloud Forests in the Humid Tropics. A Bibliographic Review. The United Nations University, Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza. Turrialba, Costa Rica. 82 pp.

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

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