|— City —|
|Nickname(s): City without borders|
|Motto: More progress!|
|Department||Norte de Santander|
|Foundation||June 17, 1733|
|• Mayor||Donamaris Ramírez-Paris Lobo|
|• City||1,176 km2 (454 sq mi)|
|Elevation||325 m (1,066 ft)|
|Population (2005-2006 Census)|
|• Density||810/km2 ( 2,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Eastern Time Zone (UTC-05)|
|Area code(s)||57 + 7|
|Website||Official website (Spanish)|
Full name San José de Cúcuta (Spanish: [ˈku.ku.ta] ( listen)) is a Colombian city, capital of Norte de Santander, in the northeast of the country. Due to its proximity to the Colombian-Venezuelan border, Cúcuta is an important commercial center. The city has the constitutional category of Special District. It is located at the most active international border in South America and is connected by roads with Bogota, Caracas and Cartagena. Its air terminal, the Camilo Daza International Airport is one of the most traveled in the country.
According to the 2005/06 census it has a population of approx. 948,942, which ranks it as the 6th largest city in the country. The Metropolitan Area of Cúcuta (conformed by other 6 municipalities) has a population of 1.378,676 inhabitants, having the same position in the conurbations. For several years it has had the lowest unemployment rate in the country, which nowadays is 8.6%.
It is situated in the Cordillera Oriental in the Andes and is connected with Venezuela through the Pan-American Highway. Its area (including rurality) of 1176 km² represents 5.65% of the department. Its altitude is 320 m above sea level, with an average temperature 28 °C (82 °F) and annual average precipitation of 1,041 mm.
The city is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Puerto Santander, to the south by Villa del Rosario, Bochalema, and Los Patios, to the north by Tibú, and to the west by El Zulia and San Cayetano.
The city of Cúcuta was called San José de Guasimales from 1733 to 1793, the year in which the name changed to San José de Cúcuta—"San José" (Saint Joseph) denotes the Virgin Mary's husband, and "Cúcuta" means "The House of Goblins", from the language of the Barí indigenous group.
In the city's seal, a legend states, Muy Noble, Valerosa y Leal Villa de San José de Cúcuta ("Very Noble, Valiant and Loyal Village of San José of Cúcuta").
The city has the nicknames "City Without Borders", "Gem of the North," and "City Forest.".
Cúcuta was originally a pre-hispanic settlement. It was entrusted to Sebastian Lorenzo by Pedro de Ursua as an encomienda in 1550. Juana Rangel de Cuellar founded Cúcuta on June 17, 1733, and donated a further 782 hectares (1,930 acres). The village, centred on a church, grew considerably due to its strategic commercial location, and eventually became a city.
Several important events that forged Colombia as an independent republic took place in the city: one of these events was the Congress of 1821, where the Constitution of Cúcuta was written and approved. This constitution created the Greater Colombia, a nation conformed by the present-day territories of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. The city preserves places where these historical events took place: the Historical Church of Cúcuta, the House of Santander, and the Park of the Great Colombia.
16th Century: First European incursions 
The first European in the North Santander territories was the German conqueror Ambrosio Alfinger, who in 1530 came from Santa Ana de Coro (Venezuela) with a troop of adventurers and invaded the unexplored eastern region of the newly created Gobernation of Santa Marta.
Alfínger, in search of El Dorado, arrived in an area of indigenous settlements called Tamalameque along the Magdalena River, fighting and defeating several tribes. Alfinger was eventually killed in the outskirts of present-day Chinácota in a battle with Chimilas and Chitareros Indians. With Alfínger dead, Fedro St. Martin took command of the troops and returned to Coro, passing through the territory of Cúcuta.
The 1541 Hernan Perez de Quesada, reached the territory of Chinácota, but had to turn back the same year due to the resistance of indigenous people. Shortly thereafter, Alfonso Perez de Tolosa, left El Tocuyo (Venezuela) and went to Salazar de Las Palmas, through Cúcuta, but also had to turn back after losing a lot of soldiers in clashes with the natives.
In 1549 Spanish troops, commanded by Pedro de Ursúa and Ortún Velasco, invaded North Santander and reached the valleys of Pamplona. In tribute to the Spanish city of Pamplona, the Spaniards founded the city of Pamplona. The new town soon attracted numerous people because of its agreeable climate and gold mines that were discovered in the region. From this town came further expeditions which completed the conquest of the current territory of North Santander.
An expedition commanded by Diego de Montes founded the town of Salazar, but it was soon destroyed by the Cacique Cínera. In 1583 the town was rebuilt by Alonso Esteban Rangel (great-grandfather of the founder of Cúcuta) on a site more appropriate for its defense in the event of new attacks by the natives.
The second expedition commanded by captain Francisco Fernández de Contreras reached to the lands of the Hacaritamas indigenous group and on July 26, 1572 founded the city of Ocaña, calling it "Santa Ana de Hacarí", while some of his colleagues the named it New Madrid, and others Santa Ana of Ocaña. The next year, Antonio Orozco, subaltern of Fernandez, founded the town of Teorama, while the Friars Augustinians founded a convent in what is today the city of Chinácota.
17th Century: Foundation 
"A journey through the city centre where the Cathedral of St. Joseph, the Palace of Government and the Monument to the column of Bolivar are located is returning to the historical roots of our ancestors.".
|— El Espectador|
In the early 16th century a great part of the valleys of Cúcuta belonged to Captain Christopher de Araque Ponce de Leon. The land passed through inheritance to his son Fernando Araque Ponce de Leon, who was owner of the entire territory from the Valley of Cúcuta to the village of San Jose; jurisdiction of the city of San Faustino. These fields had been donated to the master Araque by the Governor of the Province of New Mérida heading on September 9, 1630.
The constant hostility of the Motilones indigenous group with the whites who lived in the valley and their economic ambitions were key factors to request the erection of a parish with the name "San José". Juana Rangel de Cuéllar donated 782 hectares (1,930 acres) on June 17, 1783 for the construction of a church and land for Spanish families. Today this area is the neighbourhood of San Luis.
19th Century: Major events 
Battle of Cúcuta 
The Battle of Cúcuta was one of the most important events of the Spanish American wars of independence, due to its role in the independence of Colombia and Venezuela. This battle was the beginning of the Admirable Campaign of Simón Bolívar. On February 28, 1813, the Bolivar captured the city after a battle that lasted from 9:00 a.m. until noon. About 400 men led by Bolivar fought 800 troops led by the Spanish general Ramon Correa. Two Colombian soldiers were killed and 14 injured; on the opposing side, 20 Spanish forces were killed and 40 injured. The victory freed the city of Cúcuta and started the Admirable Campaign.
Colonel Simón Bolívar then launched a major offensive against the Spanish forces who were on the east bank of the Magdalena River and quickly achieved resounding victories that carried him to undertake a journey to liberate the Valleys of Cúcuta held by the command of royalist Colonel Ramon Correa.
Congress of Cúcuta 
On August 30, 1821 the Congress of Cúcuta took place at the town of Villa del Rosario (today part of Cúcuta) in the church known today as the "Historic Temple of Cúcuta". The congress was established by Antonio Nariño and participants included Francisco de Paula Santander, Simón Bolívar, and other leaders of Spanish America's struggle for independence from Spain.
The main objective of this congress was to unify the nations of the New Granada (Colombia and Panama) and Venezuela and thus create a huge state to be known as the Republic of Colombia (Gran Colombia). Ecuador subsequently joined Gran Colombia.
At 11 am on October 3, 1821,Simón Bolívar entered the meeting room in the sacristy of the church. He took a seat next to the president of Congress and was sworn in as president of the fledgling Republic of Colombia.
Earthquake of Cúcuta 
On 18 May 1875, Cúcuta was largely destroyed by the earthquake of Cúcuta, also known as the "Earthquake of the Andes". The earthquake occurred at 11:15 a.m.; it destroyed Villa del Rosario, San Antonio del Tachira and Capacho, seriously damaged the Venezuelan settlements of San Cristóbal, La Mulata, Rubio, Michelena, La Grita and Colón (among others), and was felt in Bogotá and Caracas.
Industrial Revolution 
In the 19th century, the construction of a railroad set off an Industrial Revolution in the city. The railroad had four branches: North, East, South and West. The North branch was constructed from 1878 to 1888, and connected Cúcuta with Puerto Santander and Venezuela. Construction of the Eastern and Southern branches began in 1878; the South branch linked with Pamplona, Colombia, and ended in El Diamante. The West branch was not built owing to economic problems. The railroad company fell into bankruptcy and was closed in 1960.
Geography, climate and layout 
The city is in the eastern part of the Department of North Santander, in the Cordillera Oriental, close to the border with Venezuela. The city's area is 110 km², The elevation is 320 metres (1,050 ft) above sea-level.
The Pamplonita River crosses the Norte de Santander Department.
Cúcuta has a tropical savanna climate. The mean temperature is 27.6nbsp;°C; high temperatures are around 38 °C. There is a sharp contrast between the wet season and the dry season. The driest months are December, January, February and March; the wettest are April, May, September, October and November. June and July usually have significant precipitation, whereas August is sunny and windy. The annual precipitation is around 1,041 mm.
|Climate data for Cucuta|
|Record high °C (°F)||36.0
|Average high °C (°F)||30.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||25.7
|Average low °C (°F)||21.2
|Record low °C (°F)||16.6
|Precipitation mm (inches)||36.1
|Avg. precipitation days||7||7||9||10||12||13||14||12||13||15||13||9||134|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||208.2||170.2||159.9||141.0||179.6||171.7||199.7||210.7||198.3||192.6||190.0||191.3||2,213.2|
|Source: Instituto de Hidrologia Meteorologia y Estudios Ambientales |
Cúcuta's streets are organized in a grid layout adopted from Spain in colonial times. Calles (streets) traverse from east to west, perpendicular to the hills, and numbering increases to the north and to the south from Calle 1. Avenidas (avenues) traverse from south to north, parallel to the hills, and numbering increases both east to west, and west to east from a central avenida numbered 0 (Avenida Cero, one of the city's most important avenues). From west to east, avenues are numbered with an E added to their number, as to denote East (este) .
More than 300 neighborhoods form the urban network. Affluent neighborhoods are primarily situated in the north and north-east; poorer ones are in the south and south-east, many of them squatter areas. The middle class lives mostly in the central, west and northwest areas.
The red and black North Santander Department flag was exhibited for the first time in 1928, when the first National Olympics were held in Cali. However, the flag of Cúcuta was not legalized until Mayor Carlos A. Rangel issued Decree 106 on May 3, 1988.
The shield of Cúcuta was adopted in 1958 by Decree 032 on February 3, 1958, after a request by the History Academy of North Santander. The shield is a classic shape, and carries the title conferred to the city by Royal Decree of the Emperor Carlos IV: Very noble, valiant and loyal Village of San José of Cúcuta.
The upper part depicts the weapons of the city's founder Juana Rangel of Cuéllar, who donated lands for the foundation of the city on June 17, 1733. They are five silver and red fleur-de-lis in the shape of reels, on a golden background.
The lower part of the shield displays the weapons that the National Congress adopted for Colombia by the Law of October 6, 1821, at its meeting in the Villa del Rosario. In the center are a quiver of spears, marked with X's, and a set of bow and arrows, tied with tricolor tape. The spears represent attributes of the Roman consuls; the X is a symbol of the right of life or death; the bow and arrows are symbols of the Hispanic Indu race.
The Anthem of Cúcuta was legalized by means of Decree 039 of February 8, 1984, by Mayor Luis Vicente Mountain Forest. The lyrics were written by Father Manuel Grillo Martínez, and the music by the master Pablo Tarazona Prada. It was chosen as the Anthem of Cúcuta by a unanimous vote in a contest held in the Theater Zulima.
The metropolitan area, which includes the municipalities of Villa del Rosario, Los Patios, El Zulia, San Cayetano and Puerto Santander, has a combined population of more than 830,000 people. It is the largest metropolitan area in eastern Colombia and sixth in Colombia behind Barranquilla and Cartagena.
Many notable Colombians are from Cúcuta:
- Francisco de Paula Santander, the first President of Colombia, known as "the man of the laws".
- Virgilio Barco, a former president of Colombia.
- Fabiola Zuluaga, the most successful Colombian tennis player
- El reverendo padreRafael García Herreros (the founder of Minuto de Dios)
- Elias M. Soto, a classic musician.
- Marino Vargas Villalta, civic leader and businessman. During the fifties and sixties, he was also the president of the popular and successful local soccer team, the Cúcuta Deportivo.
- Alberto Villamizar, a former congressman and ambassador to Indonesia, the Netherlands and Cuba, Colombia's first kidnappings czar and leading political figure of the Nuevo liberalismo (New Liberalism) movement of Luis Carlos Galan.
Cúcuta is the capital of Norte de Santander Department, and houses the Department Hall and the City Hall of the Metropolitan Area of Cúcuta along with the Francisco de Paula Santander Justice Palace. The Principal Mayor and Urban Council, both elected by popular vote, are responsible for city administration.
Politics in Cúcuta are not defined by a single political movement. Past rivals included the Partido Liberal Colombiano and the Colombian Conservative Party. Today the political landscape is shared by many political parties, none commanding majority support.
The city is notable for bilateral trade and manufacturing. Its location on the border between Colombia and Venezuela has allowed that there are strong links with the Venezuelan city of San Cristóbal, Táchira.
The industry s most developed are: milk of construction and the textile is shoes and leather. It is a producer of cement of the first order and the industry clay and stoneware has the best reputation nationally for its high quality. The mining Carbon also plays an important cucuteña screed in the economy. The University Francisco de Paula Santander of Cucuta, the National University of Colombia of Bogotá, and the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia in Tunja, are the ones that provide the career of Mining Engineering in the country.
La divisa oficial en Colombia es el Peso Colombiano y por ende es la de circulación oficial, sin embargo y debido a su proximidad con Venezuela el Bolívar es aceptado por la gran mayoría de establecimientos comerciales.
The currency Colombia is the official Peso Colombian and hence is the official release, however, and because of its proximity to Venezuela the Bolivar (currency) is accepted by the vast majority of commercial establishments.
US–Colombia Free Trade Agreement implications for Cúcuta 
Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States amidst opposition by Venezuela. Despite this opposition, industries from Venezuela are constructing their infrastructure in Cúcuta to export their products to the United States, registering their products as if they were Colombian, a strategy that would allow them to export without paying certain tariffs. For that reason, Cúcuta is expected to become an industrial city.
Colombian law provides tax exemptions for Venezuelan imports through the Zona Franca, which, coupled with the motorway links between Cúcuta and Maracaibo, increases the possibility of exports from Maracaibo into Colombia.
For travel outside the city, there is a bus station called "Terminal de Transportes" (to be replaced by a new one), the Camilo Daza International Airport (Colombia) and the San Antonio Airport (Venezuela). Eighty years ago the city had the "Railroad of Cúcuta", which connected with Venezuela.
The highway to Bucaramanga (renovated in January 2007) connects Cúcuta with Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. The highway to Ocaña connects the city with Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta; the highway to San Cristóbal with Caracas.
The city has many bridges:
- San Rafael Bridge – official name is "Benito Hernández Bustos".
- Francisco de Paula Andrade Troconis Bridge – the prolongation of the Av. 0, connecting the city with the municipality of Los Patios.
- Elías M. Soto Bridge – rebuilt and extended to 6 rails.
- San Luís Bridge – imported from England.
- Rafael García Herreros Bridge – part of the East Anillo Vial.
Six overpasses are under construction.
Law 100 of 1993 is the governing Health in Colombia, which is regulated by the Ministry of Social Protection. In Cucuta and North Santander, health is administered by the Municipal Institute of Health (IMSALUD) and the local Department of Health, respectively. Entities such as the Colombian Red Cross, the Colombian Civil Defense (emergencies, calamities and natural disasters) and the Colombian Family Welfare Institute familiar (ICBF), are part of the social protection system.
The city has the following public health institutions (or State Social Enterprises, ESE) ESE Erasmus University Hospital Meoz, the E.S.E. Francisco de Paula Santander (Clinical Social Security), the E.S.E. CardioNeuroPulmonar Rehabilitation Center, the ESE Hospital of Los Patios and E.S.E. Hospital of Villa del Rosario. In private health centers highlights San Jose Clinic, North Clinic, Clinica Santa Ana, Lions Clinic, The Samaritan Clinic and Profamilia (sexual and reproductive health).
The aforementioned entities are part of the network of institutions providing services to health attached to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Municipal Health Department. The Erasmus Hospital Meoz holds fourth-level scale and specializes in performing highly complex surgeries, such as transplant s and reimplantation s. Additionally, it offers healthcare puentos distributed in the different districts of the city, which pays attention to varying degrees of complexity. The city has a large number of health promoting entities (SPE's) as Colsanitas, SaludCoop, Cafesalud, etc.
The basic education and the high school education are in Colombian "Calendar A" for schools (from February to November).
- Colegio Santa Teresa
- Colegio Calasanz Cúcuta.
- Colegio Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
- Colegio Instituto Técnico Nacional de Comercio
- Colegio Salesiano
- Colegio La Salle
- Colegio Comfaoriente
- Colegio Santo Angel de la Guarda
- Colegio Gimnasio Los Almendros
- Colegio Gimnasio Domingo Savio
- Colegio Carmen Teresiano
- Colegio Cardenal Sancha
- Colegio Instituto Tecnico Mercedes Abrego
- Instituto Bilingüe Londres
- Colegio Andino Bilingüe
- Universidad Francisco de Paula Santander
- Universidad de Pamplona
- Universidad Libre de Colombia
- Universidad de Santander
- Universidad Antonio Nariño
- Universidad Simón Bolivar
Recent development 
The city has recently undergone development at an historically unprecedented rate. This has included construction of six overpasses, a convention center, a new bus terminal, a new Integrated Massive Transportation System called Metrobus, modernization of state owned schools, renewal of downtown, and doubling the capacity of the General Santander Stadium.
Distances to other cities 
Cities of Colombia
Cities of Venezuela
The main monuments in the city are:
- The monument of the Battle of Cúcuta
- The monument of Juana Rangel de Cuellar, the founder of Cúcuta
- The monument of Camilo Daza, in the Camilo Daza International Airport.
The main parks in the city are:
- Santander Park (in Spanish, Parque Santander), the main park of the city located in front of the city hall.
- Colón Park (in Spanish, Parkque Colón), constructed in honor of Cristobal Columbus (in Spanish, Cristobal Colón).
- Simón Bolivar Park (in Spanish, Parque Simón Bolivar), constructed in honor of Simón Bolivar and donated by the Consulate of Venezuela in Cúcuta.
From its founding, residents have valued Cúcuta's trees.
Cúcuta has more green zones than many other cities in Colombia. Some consider it an urban lung, due to its many trees and lack of pollution. The greenery is thanks to gifts by prominent Cucuteños, and the legion of foreigners who reconstructed the city after the 1875 earthquake, led by engineer Francisco de Paula Andrade Troconis. The first planted trees were clemones. Soon they were replaced by acacias, peracos and almond trees that adorned the parks and roadsides. An example of this city design is the Avenue of the Lights (based on oití, ficus and cují), that forms a natural tunnel admired in the rest of the country and by tourists.
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- "Constitution of 1991 - Legislative Act N° 2 - July 6, 2007" (PDF). Presidence of the Republic of Colombia. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
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- "Centro Histórico Villa del Rosario". Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia.(Spanish)
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- Proexport Colombia - Zonas Francas
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- (Spanish) City Hall of Cúcuta
- (Spanish) Gobernación de Norte de Santander
- (Spanish) Education Secretary of North Santander
- (Spanish) Cúcuta a moder city
- (Spanish) Newspaper La Opinion
- (Spanish) Asi Es Cucuta - Noticias de Cucuta
- (Spanish) Cúcuta Nuestra
- (Spanish) EnCúcuta
- (Spanish) Cúcuta Linda
- (Spanish) Universidad Francisco de Paula Santander
- (Spanish) Universidad de Santander
- (Spanish) Universidad Simón Bolívar
- (Spanish) Universidad de Pamplona
- (Spanish) Universidad Antonio Nariño