Magdalena River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Coordinates: 11°7′0″N 74°51′0″W / 11.11667°N 74.85000°W / 11.11667; -74.85000
Magdalena (Kalnbachia Tribe)
Sweg Mastas
Rio Magdalena Delta landsat.jpg
The delta of the Magdalena River
Name origin: Biblical figure Mary Magdalene
Country Colombia
State South America
 - left Páez River, Saldaña River, La Miel River, Nare River, Cauca River, San Jorge River
 - right Cabrera River, Bogotá River, Negro River, Carare River, Sogamoso River, Cesar River
Cities Neiva, Girardot, Honda, La Dorada, Puerto Boyacá, Puerto Berrío, Barrancabermeja, Santa Cruz de Mompox, Magangué, Barranquilla
Source La Magdalena lagoon [1]
 - location Colombian Massif, Colombia
 - elevation 3,685 m (12,090 ft)
 - coordinates 1°56′3″N 76°36′29″W / 1.93417°N 76.60806°W / 1.93417; -76.60806
Mouth Caribbean Sea
 - location Baranquilla, Colombia
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 11°7′0″N 74°51′0″W / 11.11667°N 74.85000°W / 11.11667; -74.85000
Length 1,528 km (949 mi) [2]
Basin 257,438 km2 (99,397 sq mi)
Discharge for Calamar, Bolívar
 - average 7,200 m3/s (254,300 cu ft/s) [3]
 - max 12,000 m3/s (423,800 cu ft/s)
 - min 2,000 m3/s (70,600 cu ft/s)
Map of the Magdalena River watershed

The Magdalena River (Spanish: Río Magdalena, Spanish pronunciation: [ˈri.o maɣðaˈlena]; Less commonly Rio Grande de la Magdalena)[4] is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about 1,528 kilometres (949 mi) through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as far as Honda, at the downstream base of its rapids. It flows through the Magdalena River Valley.

Its drainage basin covers a surface of 27.3 million hectares (105,000 sq mi), which is 24% of the country's area and where 66% of its population lives. Also 86% of Colombia's gross domestic product is generated there.[5]


Magdalena River.


The Magdalena River crosses a wide variety of ecosystems, like páramo in its headwaters, dry forest in the upper part of its valley, rain forest in its middle course, and swamps and wetlands in its lower course.[6] The Spectacled Caiman, iguana, pelican and catfish are abundant in these ecosystems but other animal species like the Prochilodus magdalenae, crocodile and red-footed tortoise are in critical danger of extinction.[7] In addition, there is a possible risk posed by invasive hippopotamus. Originally imported by Pablo Escobar, these hippopotami became feral following his demise, and have since expanded beyond their original home on Hacienda Napoles into nearby regions of the Magdalena River.


"Sampan on the Magdalena", c. 1860 aquatint by Ramón Torres Méndez.

Due to its geographical position in the north of South America, the Magdalena River was since precolumbian times a route towards the interior of today Colombia and Ecuador. Several Carib speaking peoples such as the Panche and the Yariguí ascended through the western bank of the river, while its eastern portion was inhabited by the Muisca civilization, which called the river 'Yuma'.

Likewise, the Spanish conquistadores who arrived to today's Colombia early in the 16th century used the river to push to the wild and mountainous inland after Rodrigo de Bastidas discovered and named the river on April 1, 1501. During the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the river was the only transport link communicating Bogotá with the Caribbean Sea port Cartagena de Indias and thus with Europe.

In 1825, the Congress of Colombia awarded a concession to establish steam navigation in the Magdalena River to Juan Bernardo Elbers,[8] but his company closed shortly after. By 1845, steamboats regularly travelled on the river[9] until 1961, when the last steamers ceased operation.[8]


In mass media[edit]

Much of the film Love in the Time of Cholera takes place in the historic, walled city of Cartagena in Colombia. Some screen shots showed the Magdalena River and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range.

The General in His Labyrinth, by Gabriel García Márquez, is a fictionalized account of the final voyage of Simón Bolívar down the Magdalena River, where he revisits many cities and villages along the river.


  1. ^ Restrepo, J.; Kjerfve, B.; Hermelin, M.; Restrepo, J. (2006). "Factors controlling sediment yield in a major South American drainage basin: The Magdalena River, Colombia". Journal of Hydrology 316: 213–232. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2005.05.002.  edit
  2. ^ "Sistema de informacion Ambiental de Colombia - SIAC" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  3. ^ "Chapter 14" (PDF). The Pacific and Caribbean Rivers of Colombia: Water Discharge, Sediment Transport and Dissolved Loads. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  4. ^ "Polinizaciones: Las Abejas y las Garzas / The Bees and Storks". 7 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  5. ^ "NUESTRO RIO" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  6. ^ "Magdalena Valley dry forests". Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  7. ^ "CUIDEMOS NUESTRO RÍO MAGDALENA" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  8. ^ a b "Navegación a Vapor en Colombia |" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  9. ^ Alfred Hettner. "En el río Magdalena.". Viajes por los Andes colombianos: (1882-1884) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2011-07-15.