Catatumbo River

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Countries Colombia, Venezuela
States Norte de Santander Department, Zulia
 - elevation 3,850 m (12,631 ft)
Mouth Maracaibo Basin
Length 500 km (311 mi)
Basin 22,317 km2 (8,617 sq mi)

The Catatumbo River (Spanish: Río Catatumbo) is a river rising in northern Colombia, flowing into Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The Catatumbo River is approximately 210 miles (338 km) long. It forms a part of the international boundary between the two countries.

Together with the nearby Río Escalante, Catatumbo is a producing area for cocoa beans of the Criollo cultivar.

Catatumbo lightning[edit]

Main article: Catatumbo lightning

The "Relámpago del Catatumbo" or "Faros del Catatumbo" (Catatumbo lightning) is a phenomenon that occurs over the marshlands at the Lake Maracaibo mouth of the river, where lightning storms occur for about 10 hours a night, 140 to 160 nights a year, for a total of about 1.2 million lightning discharges per year. The light from this storm activity can be seen up to 40 km away and has been used for ship navigation; it is also known as the "Maracaibo Beacon" for this reason.[1]


  1. ^ "Fire in the Sky". Retrieved 2007-12-14. The flashes are visible up to 40 kilometres away and have been used as a natural lighthouse for centuries; which is why this semi-permanent storm is also known as the "Faro de Maracaibo", or "Maracaibo Beacon". 

Coordinates: 9°20′39″N 71°42′38″W / 9.34417°N 71.7106°W / 9.34417; -71.7106