The most important rivers in Colombia are, among others, the Magdalena, Caquetá or the Amazon rivers . These rivers play an important role in the daily life of the Colombians who live around them; they are the economic impulse of a country with an important drainage system.
They provide water for millions of people who live along its banks, and fish for commercial and subsistence fishermen. They are therefore essential for survival, for the economy and for transportation.
Rivers maintain a constant ecosystem and help create environments conducive to supporting plant and animal life.
Main rivers of Colombia
The Magdalena River rises near a point 177 kilometers north of Ecuador, where the Cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera Central diverge.
It is fed by numerous mountain streams that originate in snowfields, where for millennia glaciers have brushed the surface of bent and stratified rocks.
The Magdalena is navigable from the Caribbean Sea to the city of Neiva, inland, but is interrupted at the midpoint of the country by rapids in the city of Honda.
The Amazon is the largest river by discharge globally and is also considered the longest by some measures. It flows from Rio Mantaro and flows a distance of 6992.6 km to drain into the Atlantic Ocean.
The average discharge is 55,000,000 gallons per second which is equal to 2544.3 cubic km annually. The Amazon drainage basin covers an area of approximately 2,720,000 square miles and is the largest in the world.
The first European to navigate the river was Vicente Yáñez Pinzón of Spain in the 1500s. There has been an ongoing debate about the longest river in the world between the Nile and the Amazon. The consensus is that the Nile is longer than the Amazon. The different tributaries of the river flood at different times of the year.
So far no major flooding of the river has been documented. It contains a wide and varied range of flora and fauna, with more than a third of all known species in the world found there.
It is also known as Rio Japura and is 2,816.3 km long. It flows to the southeast of Brazil and enters the Amazon River through a network of canals.
It is home to a variety of fish and reptiles including the catfish, a 90 kg species that is up to 180 cm long.
The Caquetá River also serves as the main means of transportation. Motor boats and river boats known locally as motorboats are used when crossing and fishing. Its source of water is the Orteguaza River.
It is the largest tributary of the Amazon and one of the ten largest rivers in the world in terms of average discharge.
The river was named Black because it looks dark from a distance. It has a length of 2,230.5 km. It contains endemic species of fauna and flora. Its source of water is the Mahaweli River, which is the longest on the island.
There are an estimated 800 to 900 species of fish, including nearly 100 endemic species and several unnamed species.
The Orinoco River is one of the longest rivers in South America at 2,140.4 km long, in addition to having a drainage basin that covers 340,000 square miles. 76.3% are in Venezuela and the rest in Colombia.
It is home to a wide variety of incredibly diverse flora and fauna. The river is home to one of the rarest reptiles in the world, the Orinoco crocodile. It has more than 100 registered fish species. Ships use it as a means of transport.
The Putumayo River is one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River, which flows west and parallel to the Japura River. It forms part of the Colombian border with Ecuador, as well as most of the border with Peru.
It originates in the Andes Mountains east of the municipality of Pasto, Colombia. Its mouth is in the Amazon River near the municipality of Santo Antonio do, Brazil. Cattle ranching and the rubber trade are an important industry on the banks of the river.
Running parallel to the Magdalena and separated from it by the Central Cordillera, the Cauca River has headwaters not far from those of the Magdalena.
The Cauca finally joins the Magdalena in swamps of the coastal region of the Atlantic (Caribbean). Further west, the navigable Atrato River flows north to the Gulf of Urabá.
There are no large rivers in western Colombia, as the mountains are too close to the coast. The longest rivers in this region are the San Juan and the Patia.
East of the Andes, however, there are many large rivers, including several that are navigable. The Orinoco River flows north along the border with Venezuela. Many of the rivers of eastern Colombia flow into it.
The Guaviare River and two rivers to the north, the Arauca and the Meta, are the main Colombian tributaries of the Orinoco. The Guaviare serves as a border for five political subdivisions, dividing eastern Colombia into the eastern plains subregion in the north and the Amazon subregion in the south.
It is born from the confluence of the Guayabero and Ariari rivers and travels 1,497 km to its mouth in the Orinoco river. It crosses the departments of Meta, Vichada, Guaviare and Guainía.
The Arauca is born in the Páramo del Almorzadero and flows into the Orinoco River. It has a length of 1050 km and on its way it crosses Arauca (Colombia), but also Apure in Venezuela.
El Cauca owes its name to its birthplace, specifically in the Laguna del Buey (Cauca). It has a route of 1,350 km and is of great importance for the nation since it passes through approximately 180 municipalities of different departments such as Bolívar, Antioquia, Sucre or Caldas, among others. It empties into the Magdalena River.
It is one of the main tributaries of the Orinoco River with a length of about 1000 km. Its administrative location is shared with Venezuela and stands out for having one of the most important hydrographic basins in the country.
It is born in the central mountain range of the Andes and dies in the Gulf of Urabá after crossing Chocó and Antioquia. It has a length of 750 km, of which 508 km are navigable, very important for the development of the neighboring municipalities.
Total length of the most important rivers in Colombia
1- Amazon: 6992.6 km (shared with Peru and Brazil)
2- Caquetá (Japura): 2,816.3 km (shared with Brazil)
3- Black: 2230.5 km (shared with Brazil and Venezuela)
4-Orinoco: 2,140.4 km (shared with Venezuela)
5- Putumayo: 1,609.3 km (shared with Peru and Brazil)
6- Magdalena: 1528.8 km
7- Guaviare: 1496.6 km (shared with Venezuela)
8- Arauca: 1049.2 km (shared with Venezuela)
9- Cauca: 965.6 km
10- Goal: 804.6 km (shared with Venezuela)
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