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Colombia - Departments - Overview and Index

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Departamentos - Overview

According to the 1991 Political Constitution of Colombia, the current tittle for the formerly Intendencias and Comisareas is Departamentos. this is only a type of territorial entities now.
Mario de la Calle Lombana, 26 September 1999

The Departaments and Capitals are:

Andes Region (Región Andina) - Major City in this Region: Santafé de Bogota
- Nariño/Pasto (San Juan de Pasto)
- Cauca/Popayan
- Valle del Cauca
- Huila/Neiva
- Tolima/Ibagué
- Quindio/Armenia
- Risaralda/Pereira
- Caldas/Manizales
- Cundinamarca/Bogotá (Santafé de Bogotá D.C.)
- Boyacá/Tunja
- Santander/Bucaramanga
- Norte de Santander/Cucutá (San José de Cucutá)
- Antioquia/Medellín

Caribbean Región (Región Caribe) - Major City in this Region: Barranquilla
- Córdoba/Montería
- Sucre/Sincelejo
- Cesar/Valledupar
- Bolívar/Cartagena (Cartagena de Indias)
- Atlántico/Barranquilla
- Magdalena/Santa Marta
- La Guajira/Riohacha

The Pacific Región (Región Pacifica):
The Western Part of Western Mountains of Departamen of Valle del Cauca, Nariño and Cauca are Part of Pacific Región. Mjor City in this Region: Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca
-Chocó/Quibdó (Quibdo)

Orinoquia Region (Región Orinoquía) a.k.a "Llanos Orientales" ( Eastern Plains) - Major City in this Region: Villavicencio:
- Meta/Villavicencio
- Casanare/Yopal
- Vichada/Puerto Carreño
- Arauca/Arauca

Amazon Region (Región Amazonia) - Major City in this Region: Florencia, Caqueta:
- Amazonas/Leticia
- Putumayo/Mocoa
- Caquetá/Florencia
- Guaviare/San José del Guaviare
- Vaupés/Mitú (Mitu)
- Guainía/Puerto Inirida (ex-Puerto Obando)

Insular Region (Región Insular)
San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina
- Minor outlying islands

The Constitution of 1991 had created Metropolitan Areas:
- Metropolitan Area of Aburra Valley "Medellin" (Medellín - Barbosa - Bello - Caldas - Copacabana - Envigado - Girardota - Itagui - La Estrella-Sabaneta) was created ny Decree 038 of 13 January of 1991
- Metropolitan Area of Bucaramanga (Bucaramanga - Floridablanca - Piedecuesta - Giron)
- Metropolitan Area of Cucuta (Cucuta - Villa del Rosario - El Zulia - San Cayetano - Los Patios)
- Metropolitan Area of Barranquilla (Barranquilla - Soledad - Malambo - Puerto Colombia)
- Metropolitan Area of Pereira (Pereira - Dosquebradas - La Virginia)

There are also 4 Districts:
- District Capital ( Santafe de Bogota)
- Port and Industrial District of Barranquilla
- Tourism and Cultural District of Cartagena ( Cartagena de Indias )
- Tourism, Cultural and Histrorial District of Santa Marta (In Santa Marta Simon Bolivar Died).
Felipe Carrillo, 23 July 2002

Colombia create 6 New Districts:
Buenaventura, Tumaco, Turbo, Cucutá, Popayán and Tunja
Felipe Carrillo, 12 January 2008

Currently, according to the 1991 Political Constitution of Colombia, the country has 32 Departments. The number of Regions the country officially has is six, according to the IGAC (Instituto Geografico Agustin Codazzi, Agustin Codazzi Geographical Institute), the official government entity in charge of issuing the Official Map of Colombia and its Basic Cartography, as well as other important tasks.
The Regiones Naturales (Natural Regions), in the order reported by the IGAC: - Región Andina (Andean Region), named after the Andes Mountain Range - Región Caribe (Caribbean Region), named after the Carribbean Sea - Región Pacifica (Pacific Region), named after the Pacific Ocean - Región Orinoquía (Orinoquia Region), named after the Orinoco River - Región Amazonia (Amazonia Region), named after the Amazon River - Región Insular (Insular Region), name based on the minor outlying islands.
Source: IGAC's official web site.
E.R., 3 August 2008

Click here for a set of Colombian departments small flags by Blas Delgado, 6 October 2001

List of the "Departamentos"

Distrito Capital

Other Territories

Quita Sueno Bank, Roncador Cay and Serrana Bank

On September 8, 1972, the US and Columbia signed a treaty in Bogota recognizing Columbia's sovereignty over Quita Sueno Bank, Roncador Cay and Serrana Bank. The treaty was effective September 17, 1981.
Phil Nelson , 27 April 2000

Serranilla Bank

Claimed by both the United States and Columbia. This is a series of small cays located approximately 210 miles NNE of Nicaragua. These islands were originally claimed by the US under the Guano Act. Columbia considers this part of the Province Archipelago (San Andrés y Providencia ). Additionally, Honduras appears to have claimed this area as well.
Phil Nelson , 27 April 2000

Metropolitan Areas and Districts

Metropolitan Areas in Colombia are officially designated administrative and census areas, composed of an urban center and its associated Municipalities. The following criteria must be met for a group of communities to be designated a Metropolitan Area:
- Each one of the Municipalities, the secondary cities as well as the central city, must have a population of at least 50,000 inhabitants. - The secondary cities must integrate their city planning with that of the central city.
- At least two-thirds of those employed in the area must perform non-rural activities.
- Each of the secondary cities must have at least 10% of their workers employed in the central city.
- Commuting to work is, in fact, the major characteristic of a Metropolitan Area. As a result, the secondary cities are often called "dormitory cities"; meaning places where the inhabitants only go home to sleep.
An important function of the Metropolitan Areas is to provide for joint planning between the Municipalities, thereby managing ordered and proportional economic growth according to the necessities of the area and the physical characteristics of each Municipality.
These Areas are stipulated in the most recent Constitution of Colombia (1991), where in Article 319 it mentions their establishment. The Areas could be created either by Ley (national level, issued by Congress or by the President) or by Ordenanza (Ordinance are the the bills passed through the Department Legislative body which is called Asamblea, Assembly in English) These Areas could in turn evolve into Distritos (Districts).
The first districts were created by the 1991 Constitution in Article 356 and were: Bogotá (Bogotá D.E. for Distrito Especial, Special District; Barranquilla Distrito Especial Industrial y Portuario (Special Industrial and Port District), Cartagena Distrito Turístico (Cultural District) and Santa Marta Distrito Turístico Cultural e Histórico (Cultural Tourism and Historic District). However Acto de Reforma Constitucional No. 02 (Constitutional Reform Act No. 02 of July 7, 2007) changed the Constitution and included as districts the following: Cúcuta Distrito Especial Fronterizo Y Turístico (Special Border and Turistic District), Popayan Distrito Especial Histórico, Universatario y Ecoturistico (Special Historic, University and Ecotouristical District), Tunja Distrito Cultural y Turítico (Cultural and Historic District) , Buenaventura Distrito Especial (Special District), Turbo Distrito Especial Portuario de Urabá (Port Special District of Uraba) and Tumaco Distrito Especial Portuario (Special Port District) .
The following are current Metropolitan Areas recognized by the Colombian government (in order of establishment). The firs Municipality in an Area is the main city (also the Capital of the Department) and the rest are the surrounding and conurban Municipalities:
- Área Metropolitana del Valle de Aburrá (Metropolotian Area of the Aburra Valley), Created by Ordenanza No. 34 of Nov. 20 de 1980 and regulated by Law No. 128 of 1994, and Law No. 99 of 1993. Composed of Medellín, Bello, Barbosa, Copacabana, La Estrella, Girardota, Itagüí, Envigado, Caldas and Sabaneta. Official website at:<>.
- Área Metropolitana de Bucaramanga (Metropolitan Area of Bucaramanga). Created by Ordenanza No. 20 of 1981. Composed of Bucaramanga, Floridablanca and Girón. In 1986, the newly incorporated Municipality of Piedecuesta was added. Official website at: <>.
- Área Metropolitana de Barranquilla (Metropolitan Area of Barranquilla). Created by Ordenanza No. 28 of 1981. Composed of Barranquilla, Puerto Colombia , SoledadMalambo and Galapa. Official website at: <>.
- Área Metropolitana de Cúcuta (Metropolitan Area of Cúcuta). Created by Decree 000508 of 1991. Composed of Cúcuta, Villa del Rosario, Los Patios and El Zulia. Official website at: <>.
- Área Metropolitana de Centro Occidente (Metropolitan Area of the Midwest). Created by Ordenanza No. 014 of 1991. Composed of Pereira and Dosquebradas. La Virginia was added after its incorporation and Santa Rosa de Cabal is waiting to be approved. Official website at: <>.
- Área Metropolitana de Valledupar (Metropolotian Area of Valledupar): Created in 2005. Composed of  Valledupar, Agustín Codazzi, La Paz, Manaure and San Diego. Official website at: <>.
There are also several Metropolitan Areas geographically defined, but not legally established nor recognized (see wikipedia).
Notice that in a Metropolitan Area the main city is usually a District as the main Hub.
E.R., 18 February 2010