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Skyline of Barrancabermeja
Flag of Barrancabermeja
Coat of arms of Barrancabermeja
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Oil Capital of Colombia
Location of the town and municipality of Barrancabermeja in the Santander Department
Location of the town and municipality of Barrancabermeja in the Santander Department
Barrancabermeja is located in Colombia
Location in Colombia
Coordinates: 7°04′N 73°51′W / 7.067°N 73.850°W / 7.067; -73.850
Country  Colombia
Department Santander
Founded April 22, 1922
 • Mayor Elkin David Bueno Altahona
 • Total 1,154 km2 (446 sq mi)
Elevation 75 m (246 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 320,000
 • Density 280/km2 (720/sq mi)
Demonym Barranqueño (a)
Website Official website (Spanish)

Barrancabermeja is a city of Colombia, located in the department of Santander. It is home to the largest oil refinery in the country and is the capital of the Province of Mares. Also, Barrancabermeja is well known as the Oil Capital of Colombia.

It is located 101 km west of Bucaramanga, on the banks of the Magdalena River in the Middle Magdalena region, which is the largest municipality and second in the entire department.


Pre-Columbian Period

In Pre-Columbian times the territory of Barrancabermeja was occupied by different human groups. About 2,000 BC was inhabited by Preyareguíes, who were hunter-gatherers.

With the passage of time the family was formed indigenous Carib linguistic affiliation, called the Yareguíes. They were a semi-nomadic people, trained for war. They were divided into separate clans (Arayas, Chiracotas, Tolomeos, Suamacaes, Opones and Carares) each governed by their chieftains autonomously.

The social, political and cultural Yareguíes, was formed by a system of chieftainship in the prevailing power of the chief and his relatives, on the other members of the community. Similarly in this hierarchical structure of leadership, was the religious shaman had claimed specificity regarding the legitimacy of the authority of the chief, in the tasks of production management and basic subsistence of their surpluses. In this way, the chief reward his supporters, with the specialty of the redistribution of such surpluses, so that social and political ties between his relatives and of these with the rest of society legitimize. The status and power of the chief was reaffirmed through direct links on the participation of surpluses, which redistribution is done through great rituals, called by the chief as required by the shamans, who showed the exact time of the different cycles agricultural, etc.

The approximate boundaries of the territory were Yariguíe: Mining rivers (south) and Sogamoso (north), between the peaks of the Cordillera Oriental and the Magdalena River. They lived in a region of forests, high temperature and high humidity, which made life difficult for its inhabitants. It is claimed that the Yaregies had a high rate of infant mortality and life expectancy did not exceed 45 years old.

Colonial Period

This period begins with the arrival of the Spanish in 1536 and ends with the final expulsion in 1820. These three centuries are characterized by acts of war of conquest times and the historical penumbra colonial times.

In that era, the governor of Santamartha, Don Pedro Fernandez de Lugo, was intended to make the longing of Rodrigo de Bastidas, discover the source of the river Magdalena regardless of cost or effort.

Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada was generally nominated and chosen by the governor to get out in front of this issue, granting broad powers and authority to choose their own partners. When you start this journey found it difficult to walk through wetlands, sudden assaults of the natives and ravenous beasts and insects attacks.

All this is supported only by the prospect of finding a territory rich in wealth, which eased their plight and made them follow in his obstinate determination.

On April 6, 1536 left the expedition, he carried under his command 700 infantry and 80 men by land and five boats. They were skilled captains, excellent sailors and famous war-hardened warriors of Spain against the Moors. Latora or Latocca, was the Indian name of Barrancabermeja today, why spend the Yuma River, today Magdalena River.

Having overcome many difficulties, the October 12, 1536, the expedition river in the distance saw a "Barrancas Bermejas", located at 7 ° 04 'N lat, 73 ° 52' W at 75.94 m Long and 27.6 °C average temperature.

The first Spanish tha saw reddish lands was Diego Hernandez Gallegos and the first to take possession of those lands was the leader of the expedition, Don Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. The reddish promontories formed the lifeline of the depleted hosts expeditionary Quesada and determined the course of the expedition that would lead to the conquest of the Chibcha people since the founding of Bogotá, in 1538.

From the beginning the indigenous community manifested Yariguíe hostile to the presence of Spanish colonists, presenting a strong resistance to prevent the penetration of their land.

Latora or Latocca remained the site scale for expeditionary movements. In 1540 Jeromino Lebron arrived two years after Luis Alonso Lugo. The path discovered by Quesada, via Opon river was rough and difficult, who was replaced by the Santa Fe-Honda, easier and less dangerous.

By 1570, four chiefs were known by the Spanish: Beto of the Arayas, Caciquillo of the Opones, Martinillo of Carares and Suamaca of Suamacaes dedicated of raiding vessels in the Magdalena, Sogamoso, Opon and Carare rivers that carrying settlers, militia and goods to Velez and Bogotá. Also attacked villages and troops of soldiers were beaten against aborigines.

Barrancabermeja relegated to a secondary position, falls into the hands of its former inhabitants, the warlike Indians oppose Carares and who since that time become hub of Spanish travelers assaults, a situation that lasted until the beginning of 1601 when the Magistrate Luis Enriquez, by order of the Royal Court, arrives on the scene, based on 2 February a population surveillance aimed at policing the river and attack the Indians, led by Pipaton (Opones) and Maldonado (Carares) and eventually forced to retreat in the depths of the forests. The successor to the Magistrate, Captain Juan de Campos to the permanent threat of Indians moved to the mouth of Carare, then settle in the mouth of Salome, on the left bank of the great river.

It is famous for years the resistance offered by the settlers Pipaton cacique, who had been arrested in 1601, the victim cut his heel, despite which escaped and returned to lead the resistance against the Spanish. However, at the end of his life, gave the colonial authorities and was sent to Santa Fe bound to a friary, where he died after 1612.

Henceforth, Barrancabermeja enters the shadows of oblivion. However, the people should continue to exist, since the January 17, 1761 was visited by the learned naturalist Jose Celestino Mutis.

Communications and logging Period

Barrancabermeja, in 1820, was a small village of palm huts, erected on the red canyon. Its inhabitants, precarious living and continually threatened by hostile indigenous groups, were so few that they could not give the village the Parish category, the smallest territorial division of the time. However, the village had a proper topography (land and high), in the middle of the plain warm, rainy and flood. This huge advantage could not go unnoticed by the constructive efforts of the Republic, especially those in the regions and mountain Saravita Santandereana, which had prosperous urban centers (Socorro, Simacota, Galán, Zapatoca, San Vicente de Chucuri and Betulia) seeking an outdoor exit. By geographical location and topographical features, Barrancabermeja was the forced transport terminal and communications. Strange paradox of this city. It was the gateway to the conquering of Jimenez de Quesada, 300 years later, the Republic seeks his trips abroad, just by Bermejas Barrancas. This interest is reflected in numerous legal cases. Twelve Decree Laws, Presidential Decrees and contracts were issued in the span of 24 years (1823-1847). Three legislative decrees concerning the political and administrative organization. Decree-Law of 28 July 1823, establishing the Canton Zapatoca including Barrancabermeja under its jurisdiction, the Legislative Decree of May 1, 1826, ascribes the District of St. Paul, which had water communication, the Decree of the Liberator of December 22, 1828, Canton Zapatoca suppresses and reverses again Barrancabermeja, to the jurisdiction of this town.

Eight laws concerning the opening track from inside to Barrancabermeja. El Socorro, outstanding urban center at the time, was interested in the route starting from that city went through Simacota, traverse the ridge to a point Opon River navigable, and, through this cause and Magdalena, finally arrived to Barrancabermeja. Decree Laws of April 25, 1834, March 20 and May 3, 1835, concerning precisely, with the appropriation of the money, the route of the road and the administration of the funds. The road turned to the service on July 29, 1837, with the creation of the Rio Puerto Carolina Opon, construction, suitable stretches of five inns in Barrancabermeja and the provision of a winery called Bodega del Socorro.

Zapatoca, with the neighboring towns of San Vicente, Bethulia and Chucuri, was interested in the route, taking parts of the Oponcito and La Colorada rivers that would lead to Barrancabermeja. To achieve this end the government decrees were issued from December 8, 1835, 1836June 21, 1843 and May 3, 1845. Since last year, the path of Oponcito began service with many difficulties.

The movement of transport and trade, caused by these means, but the increase that took the business of operating machines, gave the village relative prosperity that prompted the issuance of the Law of 26 May 1847, by which amounted to Barrancabermeja Parish category, assigned to the Mayor an income of $ 1,600 actual and email administration established in such a way that by means of the regularization Zapatoca correspondence of Antioquia and Magdalena. The climate of relative prosperity, reflected in the Act, lasted until the beginning of the next decade. Between 1853 and 1855, there were six Indian raids that killed 20 people. Although Presidential Decree of 26 August 1857 established the weekly mail between the Port and Zapatoca and Law November 14, 1857, appropriated aid for improvements Oponcito pathway, the truth is that by decree of November 26 of that year, he abolished the post office that was revived only four years later by Decree of November 27, 1861. In this way the 1850 is for Barrancabermeja but a decline, at least, a stagnation of his creative activity.

According to the Municipal Archives of Zapatoca, Barrancabermeja in 1864 had 85 people (31 women and 54 men). A second phase of prosperity, perhaps more vigorous than previous starts in 1863, when Geo Von Lengerke (wealthy German citizen, owner of the Hacienda de Montebello, located in the town of Bethulia), proposed to the state government for the construction Santander a land that reached Montebello starting from Barrancabermeja, to obviate the difficulties presented Oponcito track, impassable in winter periods. The government dated December 31, 1863, accepted the proposal and the way the service was given in 1867. With the movement of the new road, and the rise of the exploitation of forest products for export (Quina, Tagua, Raicilla and others), came a new period of prosperity of the town.

This fact is also expressed in the Act 11 of 1873, the State of Santander, through which rises to the level of Barrancabermeja township by the name of Puerto Santander. A few years later came the decline again to Puerto. Law 42 of 1876, deleted the district (re-created five years later by Solon Wilches available) and this year via trade Opon became extinct. In 1880 Mr. Lengerke liquid business. In 1882 not exported a single package of machine, and two years later was abandoned Zapatoca pathway. Many of the inhabitants who had arrived in good times emigrated. In the period from 1890 to 1896, depression was hidden with the extraction of forest products and living like brothers "bolivia," Santander, Antioquia, Tolima magdalenenses and several.

Barrancabermeja began the 20th century as a hamlet. In 1901, the town consisted of Puerto Real and a single street, called Calle del Comercio, after Bell Street, which stretched from what is now the Hotel Pipaton to Puerto del Guamo. On the north side would be twenty-two houses and two plots, and the south side eleven houses and one solar. In Puerto Real was the police department. On the side of the river were two dwellings and the old cellar Lengerke, but south of Socorro supervivían wineries and North. In total, 39 properties and 36 buildings (32 homes, three wineries and one public building). It is interesting to note that of the thirty-two owners all had different surnames, except two men and two women Martinez surname surname Hernandez, ten owners were women, of whom only one bore the name of marriage. Figure Santander named one wheel.

The first 14 years of the century are characterized by patterns try to revive prosperity of the last century, i.e. first trade and communications, and then forest extractive industry.

For 1896, Barrancabermeja had 153 inhabitants. At that time the city was a village of Lebrija. One day in February 1902, came to the village Evaristo Jimenez Soto, with the aim of reviving trade and transport by road La Colorada-forgotten-San Vicente-Oponcito Zapatoca. The transport organizer Jimenez Soto & Co.. and starting work on the first of March (construction of warehouses and offices in Puerto Galán, cleaning waterways and land, building canoes) in order to start work in August, which effectively fulfilled.

The first batch was made with flour and oil shipment to San Vicente, at the end of that month the warehouses were looted by the revolutionary forces, but the company instead of being discouraged, extensive business with the purchase of tagua, rubber, Perillo, tamine, etc., extracted from the jungles of Opon, La Colorada and Oponcito. Also drew Infantas pitch. The company continued to widen in the years 1903 and 1904. However, the peace of Wisconsin was fatal for the company. In 1905, competitors began to work by way of Lebrija, with much lower costs, thus resulting in the liquidation of the company Jimenez Soto. This the old pattern of communications and commerce remained settled forever.

The extraction of forest products, again came to give impetus to falleciente village. By Legislative Decree # 34 of 10 February 1905 was granted to the East Magdalena Exploitation, the monopoly of the extraction of forest products from the right bank of the river Magdalena, from Nare to the mouth of Sogamoso. In that year the company began operations in Puerto Carare and the following year opened offices in Barrancabermeja. The monopoly of the company, the extraction and export of forest products produced many disagreements among the inhabitants of the port, but did not last long, as in 1909, that company suspended work, thereby liquidating the pattern of prosperity of the town.

With the onset of World War I, was completely paralyzed trade coots, and thus the way of life of its people.

This concludes the centenary period communications and logging in which alternated periods of boom and depression, but not sack the town of small village lost in the rainforest. However, important developments emerged in the face of the town in the first three decades of this century. Politically and throughout that time, Barrancabermeja constituted a township of the municipality of San Vicente, except the first three months of 1909 when Puerto Wilches seconded.

From the urban point of view, are notable innovations promoted by the Corregidor Luis F. Hill (1906-1909), then it must be the organization of the Police Force, Inspector creating a room, building a small church, issuing several decrees concerning the cleanliness and beautification of the port, the distribution of vacant lots and obligation to build and morals of the inhabitants. To justify the establishment of schools in 1907 conducts a census of population (415 inhabitants and 44 houses), as well as a survey of homeowners to pay property tax. It also proposes the extension of 5th Street and the opening of the present race 5. In the following year, orders the dismantling of 8 hectares of forests in the north, to provide new lots and streets, moved the cemetery to what is now the Bolivar park to where now stands the Bishop's Palace, has the opening of 6th Street and 7th Street demarcates; Inspection begins to systematically take the registration of births, marriages and deaths, and finally in August made a new census of population (555 inhabitants and 67 houses).

In 1910 the road was extended in May, the race in May and opened the connecting lanes 6 and 7. In mid-August, a census of households (78 households) for the collection of property tax.

In 1911, the Directorate of Public Instruction Department believe at last an alternative school, which enrolled 27 boys and 22 girls. In the following year, was divided into School for Boys (discontinued in 1913 for lack of students) and the School for Girls.

From a demographic point of view, and based on censuses noted above, we see that at the beginning of the century the village had 32 houses with 250 inhabitants. In 1910 the houses rose to 78 and the population probably 600. 1914 is likely to reach 100 houses and 900 inhabitants population.

Regarding warlike activities of indigenous groups recalls the attacks of 1902, 1904, 1908, 1911 and 1912. In 1913 establishing peaceful contact with the Indian Carlos and since then not resubmitted attacks or robberies. With the death of this Indian culture and virtually ends the indigenous population.

Mining camp Period

From the total collapse of logging, a new natural resource, lying in the basement tertiary covered by lush rainforest, would save their extinction Barrancabermeja. This new resource was none other than oil, and used as a sedative known by the natives discovered by Quesada and the late 19th and early 20th centuries, extracted and sold as a commercial product by the name of Chapapote. Oil would transform the unemployed exhaust extractors forest wealth in mineral wealth, and later with the development of industry, become the forgotten town of the past in the "Modern Industrial City" today.

History of the Barrancabermeja concession begins in February 1905, with Legislative Decree No. 34 and Act overlooking the 6th President Rafael Reyes authority to sign contracts and ends 15 years later when Marco Fidel Suárez Oil Law No.120, approved the treaty with the United States for compensation for Panama and soon resigned.

The activities related to the exploitation of oil began on April 17, 1913, the date of arrival at the place of Roberto De Mares. The work and activities undertaken by De Mares lasted until February 18, 1916, arrival of the U.S. delegation of 18 people, consisting of engineers and capitalists, which to name Tropical Oil Company and by delegation of the dealer, established firm related jobs Petroleum exploitation.

With the official opening of the work (June 14, 1916), began a new period of historical development called Mining Camp. At the end of that year, the company had 103 people at their service, of which 15 were technical (12 Americans, 2 Germans and 1 Italian) and the remaining 88 Colombian workers. The value of wages that earlier this year was $0.50 pesos, up to $0.80 pesos at the end of it, and, in 1917, rose to $1,11 pesos. These wages undoubtedly soils contrasted with accrued by employees of the township: $30 pesos at month, the Police Inspector and $5 pesos at month the Secretary. In that year, and despite high wages, workers of the company complained to the Police Inspector maltreatment of senior employees of the same.

Following the opening of the work began arriving in the city honored job seekers, people wishing to establish businesses, thugs and adventurers, resulting in a strong housing shortage and the consequent increase in rental values.

In March 1918, staff Troco rose to 160 (25 Americans, 136 Colombian workers). On November 7 of the same year, as unusual shot the first oil well, a fact that was celebrated by citizens Barranqueña with mass street procession and blessing of the image of San Luis Beltran, patron of the town. The census recorded 1.450 inhabitants that year.

By deed signed on August 25, 1919, between the national government and the Tropical Oil Company, we verified the transfer of the De Mares Concession. Due to company policy of advance work by the contract system of the plant staff was only 103 people, of whom workers complained again to the Inspector of Police abuse of foremen, poor diet, the low wages and long hours. These facts led to the coastal workers out of work, forcing the company to send recruiters to Antioch, looking for new workers. Meanwhile, within the city multiplied Business: Pubs, shops, warehouses, buildings, dance halls, gambling dens and other amusement centers that left "pingües" benefits both the owners and the treasury of the township. This business population consumed 360 cows, while workers in the company consumed 102 cows, slaughtered at the abattoir of it.

The intensity of labor, labor shortages, high food prices, forced the company in 1920 to raise the value of wages to $ 1.50 and the inhabitants of the township doubled relative to the previous year consumption cattle, indicating a considerable increase in the population.

The year 1921 was particularly significant for the company by initiating the extraction of crude oil. The production of the year, from the three wells in operation was 66,750 barrels and accounted for nearly one thousand workers. The first hint of strike was filed on May 1

In April 1922, a committee of the House of Representatives and the visit to Barrancabermeja oil Infantas. From this visit and according to the law in May, 1922 issued by Congress authorizing the Assembly to erect in the district municipality of Barrancabermeja. Ordinance No. 13 of 1922 (April 17), provided: "Article 1 ariseth to Municipality corregimiento Barrancabermeja and point it to integrate part of the territory which by decree issued by President sovereign Santander on April 22, 1922 was allocated to same district. Article 2 Point the as limits of the same municipality, the following: from the junction of the creek Putana in Sogamoso, straight to the house of Mary of this, perpendicular line, to give the river Oponcito, this down to find the Colorada River, at the point known Infantas, the Colorada River down to where the river meets Opon, this down to its mouth on the Rio Magdalena, this gets down to where the Sogamoso, and this up to where the creek joins Putana. Article 3: The municipality established by this ordinance shall be called Barrancabermeja, will be heading the hamlet of the same name and will be part of the province of Zapatoca. Article 4 (Transitional). Article 5 The municipality of Barrancabermeja heralded as Zapatoca notary and registration. Article 6 and 7. (Temporary). Given in Bucaramanga on April 12, 1922. The President Luis F. R. Arenas The Secretary Luis F. Mujica ".

On April 26, 1922 the Founding Act is signed in the presence of the Governor of Santander JM Garcia Hernandez. In 1922, forced the refinery construction by the company, began producing refined. In mid subversives were outbreaks produced, according to the workers by the workers santandereanos Antioquia. The township was upgraded to Municipality and the head were counted 36 stores, 43 saloons and 164 owners who paid property taxes. In that year the city consumed 2.832 cows, fact that speaks for the unusual population growth, the magnitude of which can be seen by the 4,100 workers involved in the labor dispute in 1924.

On July 2, 1926, was open the pipeline Barrancabermeja-Mamonal built by the Andian National Corporation, through the contract in 1923, between it and the national government. With this work the oil industry is definitely established in the region. The workers were basically coast, of which claim that 90% were peasants Bolivia. In the first days of January 1927 came the second major labor dispute. Half the staff who participated in the strike did not return to work, which is why the company was forced to send recruiters to various parts of the country in search of workers. The effect of conflict on urban life was depressing. Many houses were vacant and rental prices dropped.

The third strike was filed on December 7, 1935, in which 4,100 workers participated. The fourth dispute occurred on April 8, 1938 and, this year, the census recorded 15,000 inhabitants in the municipality, of which 9,300 lived in the municipal seat. The fifth strike was in February 1948. On August 25, 1951, the Tropical Oil Company reversed the Colombian state through its decentralized organization called Empresa Colombiana de Petroleos. The census of 5 July of that year, census 35,400 inhabitants, of which 25,000 lived in the municipal seat.

There is not doubt that the Tropical Oil Company was the developer not only industrial development, but of the urban and rural Barrancabermeja. These three sectors grew as closely interrelated, but despite the obvious unit, each developed independently according to different patterns of development.

Industrial and modern city Period

The last period of historical development of the city starts August 25, 1951, when the De Mares Concession and the Colombian state reverses decision destinations from oil company Ecopetrol.

We can say that even gravitate patterns of organization and industrial development, and regional mining camp such as segregated camps in El Centro and Barrio El Rosario in the refinery. Nor can fail to perceive discrimination in the labor force (managers, workers and temporary) and the relative tension between the union and the company.

The phenomenon of "mesh" Ecopetrol that traverses the local map, has prevented the assimilation of individuals at a normal urban life, and that neighborhoods are scattered and communication between the different layers is difficult.

Many large institutional works, which constitute the very foundation of the modern city, were built between the 1960s and 1970s, among them are: the thermoelectric, the international airport, municipal stadium, the telephone company, the San Rafael Hospital, the establishment of SENA, Ferticol, highway construction between Bucaramanga-Barrancabermeja, the multiplication of Foundation of Schools and Secondary Education Centres. Also, Cavipetrol built the neighborhoods Parnaso and Mario Galán.

Growth was led by a neighborhood high number of invasions that took place between 1970 and 1990. This increase in air substandard housing resulted in a widening of the inner city, multiplying and planning needs, renovation of the urban structure and improved equipment.

By 1970 the city had 36 districts, which were increasing, and in 1980, 48 districts, and in 1985, 84 districts, and in 1990, 125 districts of the latter, 65 approved and 60 unapproved.

Barrancabermeja in 1976 ranked fourth among the cities with largest slums areas in Colombia, it "offered a delicate social landscape by housing shortages and slum growth."

In this sense the lack of suitable housing that invasions will develop a strategy of appropriation of land by the assault, the taking of land increasing towards the north, east and south of the city, so 90% of the northeastern sector has been well populated.

The invasions were considered in 1978 as "the product of social foresight that was a surprise from the most renowned executives to simple satin worker", which continued to be made until after the 90's organized by promoters of various political groups mainly "the authentic liberal left front row, who founded the Parliamentary Horacio Serpa Uribe", Catholic church leaders P. Eduardo Diaz, P. Ignacio Rosero, P. Floresmiro, and municipal administration because "people once occupied the site, the Council authorized the Mayor to negotiate the terrain and then was sold to the invader at low prices and with some payment facilities. Then the invaders became a homeowner and began the long road to legalize their writing, for it was to pay the property tax and valuation that identified him as owner of the property.

Eduba a decentralized municipal entity in the period of 1985-1990 built neighborhoods; Cinquentenario, Provivienda, Los Pinos and Villa Rosita.

In the early 90's the tiny and mid enterprises get strengthen, coalescing in unions that represent them and through sectoral programs, strengthened with advanced technology and training themselves to be competitive locally, nationally and globally.

A sad time in Barrancabermeja was the period between the years 1995 to 1997, where crime and terrorists of FARC and ELN had taken the town and from 1997 to 2000 where the Paramilitaries (AUC) began a war against the guerrillas in the Middle Magdalena Valley and therefore many farmers left their plantations to seek a better future in the main town of the region: Barrancabermeja.

Similarly, between 1990 and 2010, the National Government and the City Hall invested in: River Promenade, Constitution Square, Olympic Village, Oil Christ monument, Culture Promenade, UIS, Library Alejandro Galvis Galvis, new facilities for the Unipaz, Life Park, Barrancabermeja-Yondo Bridge, Popular Mall, among others.

Currently (2013) we are experiencing a new oil boom, for the exploitation of oil wells in the village of El Centro and the modernization and expansion project at the refinery which is estimated to be worth USD $ 8,000,000,000. It has entered a period of horizontal construction of hotels and apartments and commerce has been reborn with 2 malls, newly opened.

However, arrears longstanding projects and promoters of development, such as: municipal land transport terminal, new municipal jail, municipal airport expansion, new avenues, building a Central Municipal Archive, Multimodal Port, etc.


To the north of Barrancabermeja lies Puerto Wilches; to the south, Puerto Parra and Simacota ; to the southeast, San Vicente de Chucuri and Giron; and to the west, Magdalena River. It is approximately 2 hours by car from Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander.[citation needed] Placed in the riverbank, in earlier times a Ferry service would cross between Santander and Antioquia, on the opposite side, where further oil fields are found. A bridge now spans the river at this location.

The area is quite picturesque. However, the heat is oppressive and humid and mosquitoes thrive in the surrounding countryside. Due to the presence of oil the city sometimes has a characteristic smell.


Barrancabermeja's culture has been largely affected by the migratory movements caused by the oil boom. The city exhibits an amalgam of many regional customs from Colombia.[citation needed] Due to its history as an oil town, the city is often visited by moneyed foreigners, often engineers and supervisory employees and technicians of oil companies. Thus Barrancabermeja has a reputation as an open and vibrant city and may be somewhat cosmopolitan.

Barrancabermeja's night life flourishes. Salsa and merengue dance clubs abound, and the port area is vibrant as bars compete for patrons. The drink of choice is Aguila, a Colombian beer whose yellow logo is painted on walls and billboards throughout the town.

Several local and national political organizations including unions, women's organizations, and human rights groups are active. Marches and demonstrations are quite common and the oil workers union is among the most important in the nation.

The city's culture presents a strong Caribbean influence that nevertheless is not exclusive of other cultural expressions from among the variety found in Colombia. The predominant music in the city is vallenato and other Caribbean rhythms including papayera.

The commercial area of the city is adjacent to the river port ("the Port") where motor boats and canoes constantly arrive with fish and agricultural products from farmers along the river that include maize, cassava (or yuca in Spanish), plantain, and cacao.

In 1996 and 2000,[1] Barrancabermeja hosted the Mundial de Patinaje, an international rollerblading competition.

Sister cities and Partnerships[edit]


  • ARCHIVO GENERAL DE LA NACION. Fondo: Ministerio de Obras Públicas. Sección: Republica. Tomos 135, 247. Bogotá.
  • ARCHIVO GENERAL DE LA NACION. Sección República. Gobernación Santander. Rollo 428, Tomo V. Folio 756 recto y 759 recto. Bogotá.
  • APRILE-GNISET, Jacques. Génesis de Barrancabermeja. Compuláser. Bucaramanga. 1997.
  • BRICEÑO JAUREGUI, Manuel. Los Jesuitas en el Magdalena Medio. Historia de una Misión. Editorial Kelly. Bogotá. 1984.
  • CONCEJO MUNICIPAL DE BARRANCABERMEJA. Libros de Acuerdos: 1924, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1942, 1944, 1948 y 1959.
  • FLOREZ LOPEZ, Carlos & CASTAÑEDA RUEDA, Luisa. Así se pobló la ciudad. Crecimiento Urbano de Barrancabermeja 1970-1990. Compuláser. Bucaramanga. 1997.
  • GALVIS, Simón F. Monografía de Barrancabermeja, Colección de Autores Barranqueños. Segunda edición. Litografía y Tipografía La Bastilla Ltda. Barrancabermeja. 1997.
  • GOMEZ ORTIZ, Armando. Pipatón La Revista de Barrancabermeja (Memoria Histórica de Barrancabermeja 1940-1942). Sic Editorial. Bucaramanga. 2004.
  • GOSSE, Marc. Introducción a la mesa: El territorio como periferia, en AAVV. Conferencia Internacional sobre Conservación de Centros Históricos y del Patrimonio Edificado. Universidad de Valladolid. 1997.
  • LOPEZ ORTIZ, Arnulfo Antonio. Anécdotas de Barrancabermeja I. Segunda Edición. Tipografía de Mares. Barrancabermeja. 2000.
  • MOSSERI HANE, Jacques. Barrancabermeja. Plan de Ordenamiento Urbano. Tomos I, II. Universidad de los Andes. Bogotá. 1969.
  • REGISTRO MUNICIPAL. Edición Extraordinaria No 57. Barrancabermeja. Septiembre de 1939.
  • SANCHEZ, Padre José Vicente. Algunos datos históricos de la parroquia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. 2008.
  • VALBUENA, Martiniano. Memorias de Barrancabermeja, Vol. XVI. Biblioteca Santander. Bucaramanga.1947.
  • VELASQUEZ RODRIGUEZ, Rafael Antonio & CASTILLO LEON, Víctor Julio. Los Yareguíes: resistencia y exterminio. Diseños Litodigital. Barrancabermeja. 2011.
  • YUNIS, José & HERNANDEZ, Carlos Nicolas. Barrancabermeja Nacimiento de la Clase Obrera. Tres Culturas Editores.Bogotá.1986.

References/Works Cited[edit]

  1. ^ [1]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 7°04′N 73°51′W / 7.067°N 73.850°W / 7.067; -73.850