Bogotá savanna

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Bogotá savanna (Sabana de Bogotá)
Montane savanna
Bogota surroundings.jpg
The Bogotá savanna near the city of Bogotá
Country  Colombia
State Cundinamarca
Region Andean region
Part of Altiplano Cundiboyacense
Borders on East: Eastern Hills
South: Sumapaz mountains
North: Hills of Tausa and Suesca
West: Western hills
Cities Bogotá, Soacha, Chía, Facatativá, Zipaquirá
River Bogotá
 Teusacá
 Torca
 Juan Amarillo
 Fucha
 Tunjuelo
Elevation 2,550 m (8,366 ft)
Coordinates 4°45′0″N 74°10′30″W / 4.75000°N 74.17500°W / 4.75000; -74.17500Coordinates: 4°45′0″N 74°10′30″W / 4.75000°N 74.17500°W / 4.75000; -74.17500
Capital Bogotá
Area 4,251.6 km2 (1,642 sq mi)
Population 9,348,588 (2015-16)
Density 2,199/km2 (5,695/sq mi)
Geology Mesozoic-Holocene
Orogeny Andean
Discovered by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
 - date March 1537
Timezone Colombia Standard Time (UTC-5)
Sabana de Bogota.png
Topography and outline of the Bogotá savanna
[1]
All but the southernmost locality Sumapaz of Bogotá is located on the Bogotá savanna

The Bogotá savanna is a montane savanna, located in the southwestern part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the center of Colombia. The Bogotá savanna has an extent of 4,251.6 square kilometres (1,641.6 sq mi) and an average altitude of 2,550 metres (8,370 ft). The savanna is situated in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes.

The Bogotá savanna is crossed from northeast to southwest by the 375 kilometres (233 mi) long Bogotá River, which at the southwestern edge of the plateau forms the Tequendama Falls (Salto del Tequendama). Other rivers, such as the Subachoque, Bojacá, Fucha, Soacha and Tunjuelo Rivers, tributaries of the Bogotá River, form smaller valleys with very fertile soils dedicated to agriculture and cattle-breeding.

Before the Spanish conquest of the Bogotá savanna, the area was inhabited by the indigenous Muisca, who formed a loose confederation of various caciques, named the Muisca Confederation. The Bogotá savanna, known as Bacatá, was ruled by the zipa. The people specialised in agriculture, the mining of emeralds, trade and especially the extraction of rock salt from rocks in Zipaquirá, Nemocón, Tausa and other areas on the Bogotá savanna. The salt extraction, a task exclusively of the Muisca women, gave the Muisca the name "The Salt People".

In April 1536, a group of around 800 conquistadors left the relative safety of the Caribbean coastal city of Santa Marta to start a strenuous expedition up the Magdalena River, the main fluvial artery of Colombia. Word got around among the Spanish colonisers that deep in the unknown Andes, a rich area with an advanced civilisation must exist. These tales bore the -not so much- legend of El Dorado; the city or man of gold. The Muisca, skilled goldworkers, held a ritual in Lake Guatavita where the new zipa would cover himself in gold dust and jump from a raft into the cold waters of the 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) high lake to the northeast of the Bogotá savanna.

After a journey of almost a year, where the Spanish lost over 80% of their soldiers, the conquistadors following the Suárez River, reached the Bogotá savanna in March 1537. The zipa who ruled the Bogotá savanna at the arrival of the Spanish was Tisquesusa. The Muisca posed little resistance to the Spanish strangers and Tisquesusa was defeated in April 1537 in Funza, in the centre of the savanna. He fled towards the western hills and died of his wounds in Facatativá, on the southwestern edge of the Bogotá savanna. The Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada established the New Kingdom of Granada with capital Santa Fe de Bogotá on August 6, 1538. This started a process of colonisation, evangelisation and submittance of the Muisca to the new rule. Between 65 and 80% of the indigenous people perished due to European diseases as smallpox and typhus. The Spanish introduced new crops, replacing many of the New World crops that the Muisca cultivated.

Over the course of the 16th to early 20th century, the Bogotá savanna was sparsely populated and industrialised. The rise in population during the twentieth century and the expansion of agriculture and urbanisation reduced the biodiversity and natural habitat of the Bogotá savanna severely. Today, the Metropolitan Area of Bogotá on the Bogotá savanna hosts more than ten million people. Bogotá is the biggest city worldwide at altitudes above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). The many rivers on the savanna are highly contaminated and efforts to solve the environmental problems are conducted in the 21st century.

Etymology[edit]

The Bogotá savanna is named after Bogotá, which is derived from Muysccubun Bacatá, which means "(Enclosure) outside of the farm fields".[2]

Geography[edit]

Hills of Sesquilé in the northeast of the Bogotá savanna
The climber's paradise Rocas de Suesca form the northeastern boundary of the Bogotá savanna

The Bogotá savanna is the southwestern part of the larger Andean plateau, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. The savanna is a montane savanna, bordered to the east by the Eastern Hills, the Sumapaz mountains in the south, the hills of Tausa and Suesca in the north and western hills of Cundinamarca in the west. The total surface area is 4,251.6 square kilometres (1,641.6 sq mi).[1]

Climate[edit]

The average temperature of the plateau is 14 °C (57 °F), but this can fluctuate between 0 and 24 °C (32 and 75 °F). The dry and rainy seasons alternate frequently during the year. The driest months are December, January, February and March. During the rainy months, the temperature tends to be more stable with variations between 9 and 20 °C (48 and 68 °F). June, July and August are the months that present the largest variations of temperature, and during the morning frost in the higher terrains surrounding the savanna is possible. Sometimes also ground frost is present, which has a negative impact on agriculture. Hail is a relatively common phenomenon on the savanna.[3][4]

Hydrology[edit]

The Bogotá River separating Cota, Cundinamarca (top) from Bogotá
The Bogotá River is the main river of the Bogotá savanna

Rivers[edit]

Lakes[edit]

Natural[edit]
Artificial[edit]
  • Tominé Reservoir - northeast, biggest waterbody on the Bogotá savanna - 690 cubic megametres (2.4×1022 cu ft)
  • Neusa Reservoir - north - 102 cubic megametres (3.6×1021 cu ft)
  • El Muña Reservoir - south - 42 cubic megametres (1.5×1021 cu ft)
  • Lake Herrera (since 1973)[5]

Waterfalls[edit]

Wetlands[edit]

Main article: Wetlands of Bogotá

There is a system of wetlands (humedales) that regulate the soil moisture acting like sponges for the rain waters. Fifteen wetlands have a protected status, with various wetlands as unprotected. In 1950, the total surface area of the wetlands amounted to 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres), but due to the urbanisation of the Colombian capital the total area has been reduced to 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres).[6]

Map
Wetland Location Altitude (m) Area (ha) Notes Image
Guaymaral y Torca Usaquén
Suba
2547 73 [7][8]
Yellow Hooded Blackbird 004.jpg
La Conejera Suba 2544 58.9 [9]
Humedal de la conejera.jpg
Córdoba Suba 2548 40.51 [10]
Árboles en Bogotá - Humedal de Córdoba Vegetación.JPG
Tibabuyes
Juan Amarillo
Suba
Engativá
2539 222.58 [11]
Humedal tibabuyes.jpg
Jaboque Engativá 2539 148 [12]
Humedal Jaboque Engativá Bogotá.JPG
Santa María del Lago Engativá 2549 12 [13]
Humedal SantaMaria.jpg
El Burro Kennedy 2541 18.84 [14]
Humedal Burro.jpg
La Vaca Kennedy 2548 7.96 [15]
Techo Techo, Kennedy 2545 11.46 [16]
Capellanía Fontibón 2542 27.05 [17]
Capella pan part.jpg
Meandro del Say Fontibón
Mosquera
2548 13.6 [18]
Tibanica Bosa
Soacha
2542 28.8 [19]
El Salitre Barrios Unidos 2558 6.4 [20]
La Isla Bosa 2550 7.7 [21]
La Florida Funza 2542 26 [22]
Ave Parque la Florida.jpg

Biodiversity[edit]

Despite the continuous urbanisation and industrial activities, the Bogotá savanna is a rich biodiverse area with many bird species registered.[23] The diversity of mammals, amphibians and reptiles is much lower.[24] Before the arrival of the European colonisers, the savanna was populated predominantly by white-tailed deer, the main ingredient of the Muisca cuisine. Today, this species of deer, as well as the once common spectacled bear, is restricted to protected areas surrounding the Bogotá savanna. The Thomas van der Hammen Natural Reserve is a protected area in the north of Bogotá.

History[edit]

Bogotá savanna is located in the Bogotá savanna
Ab
Ti
Te
P
Ag
C
H
Preceramic sites on the Bogotá savanna
Ab - El Abra
Ti - Tibitó
Te - Tequendama
P - Piedras del Tunjo
Ag - Aguazuque
C - Checua
H - Lake Herrera

The earliest confirmed inhabitation of present-day Colombia was on the Bogotá savanna with sites El Abra, Tequendama and Tibitó, where semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers lived in caves and rock shelters. One of the first evidences of settlement in open area space was Aguazuque, whose oldest dated remains are analysed to be 5000 years old. This prehistorical preceramic period was followed by the Herrera Period, commonly defined from 800 BCE to 800 AD.

Muisca Confederation[edit]

Main article: Muisca Confederation

At the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the region was inhabited by the Muisca who lived in hundreds of small villages scattered across the plateau. These villages were individually ruled by caciques who at the same time paid tribute to the zipa, ruler of Bacatá. The Muisca were known as "The Salt People", thanks to their extraction of rock salt from brines in large pots heated over fires. This process was the exclusive task of the Muisca women.

The economy of the Muisca, meaning "person" or "people" in their indigenous version of Chibcha; Muysccubun, was self-sufficient due to the advanced agriculture on the fertile soils of the frequently flooding Bogotá savanna. More tropical and subtropical agricultural products as avocadoes and cotton were traded with their neighbours, in particular the Guane and Lache in the north and northeast and the Guayupe, Achagua and Tegua in the east.

The Muisca were known as skilled goldworkers, represented in the famous Muisca raft, that symbolises the initiation ritual of the new zipa in Lake Guatavita. This ritual, where the zipa covered himself in gold dust and jumped in the 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) altitude lake, gave rise to the -not so much- legend of El Dorado.

Spanish conquest[edit]

Indigenous Muisca fishermen in Funza
Litho by Ramón Torres Méndez
Pottery producing Muisca in Tocancipá
Litho by Ramón Torres Méndez

In April 1536, a group of around 800 conquistadors left the relative safety of the Caribbean coastal city of Santa Marta to start a strenuous expedition up the Magdalena River, the main fluvial artery of Colombia. Word got around among the Spanish colonisers that deep in the unknown Andes, a rich area with an advanced civilisation must exist. These tales bore the -not so much- legend of El Dorado; the city or man of gold. The Muisca, skilled goldworkers, held a ritual in Lake Guatavita where the new zipa would cover himself in gold dust and jump from a raft into the cold waters of the 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) high lake to the northeast of the Bogotá savanna.

After a journey of almost a year, where the Spanish lost over 80% of their soldiers, the conquistadors following the Suárez River, reached the Bogotá savanna in March 1537. The zipa who ruled the Bogotá savanna at the arrival of the Spanish was Tisquesusa. The Muisca posed little resistance to the Spanish strangers and Tisquesusa was defeated in April 1537 in Funza, in the centre of the savanna. He fled towards the western hills and died of his wounds in Facatativá, on the southwestern edge of the Bogotá savanna. The Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada established the New Kingdom of Granada with capital Santa Fe de Bogotá on August 6, 1538. This started a process of colonisation, evangelisation and submittance of the Muisca to the new rule. Between 65 and 80% of the indigenous people perished due to European diseases as smallpox and typhus. The Spanish introduced new crops, replacing many of the New World crops that the Muisca cultivated.

The Spanish colonizers engaged in the construction of Spanish-style towns to replace all the indigenous villages and in the process of assimilation and religious convert of the Muisca. The majority of those villages kept their indigenous names, but some were slightly modified in time, like Suacha which became Soacha, Hyntiba becoming Fontibón and Bacatá becoming Bogotá.

Modern history[edit]

Over the course of the 16th to early 20th century, the Bogotá savanna was sparsely populated and industrialised. The rise in population during the twentieth century and the expansion of agriculture and urbanisation reduced the biodiversity and natural habitat of the Bogotá savanna severely. Today, the Metropolitan Area of Bogotá on the Bogotá savanna hosts more than ten million people. Bogotá is the biggest city worldwide at altitudes above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). The many rivers on the savanna are highly contaminated and efforts to solve the environmental problems are conducted in the 21st century.

Timeline of inhabitation[edit]

Timeline of inhabitation of the Bogotá savanna, Colombia
Tequendama Aguazuque Piedras del Tunjo Archaeological Park BD Bacatá Lake Herrera Nemocón#Checua Tibitó El Abra History of Colombia Spanish Empire Spanish conquest of the Muisca Muisca people Herrera Period Muisca Confederation#Prehistory Bochica Muisca mummification Muisca economy#Ceramics Andean preceramic Muisca agriculture Hunter-gatherer
Altiplano Cundiboyacense (subdivisions).png

Altiplano

Mapa del Territorio Muisca.svg

Muisca Confederation

Sabana de Bogota.png

Cities[edit]

The capital of Colombia, Bogotá, here seen at night from Monserrate, is the main city on the Bogotá savanna. The flatland is clearly visible

The main cities of the Bogotá savanna, in addition to the capital city of Bogotá, are: Mosquera, Soacha, Madrid, Funza, Facatativá, Subachoque, El Rosal, Tabio, Tenjo, Cota, Chía, Cajicá, Zipaquirá, Nemocón, Sopó, Tocancipá, Gachancipá, Sesquilé, Suesca, Chocontá and Guatavita.[25]

List of municipalities[edit]

Municipality
Locality
Altitude
urban centre (m)
Surface area
(km2)
Inhabitants[note 1] Remarks Map
Bogotá 1587 7,980,00116 Named after Bacatá[note 2]
Capital of Colombia
Biggest city at altitudes
above 2,500 metres (8,200 ft)
Colombia Bogotá location map.png
Usaquén 2650 65.31 449,62116
Bogotá - Usaquén.svg
Chapinero 2640 38.15 122,50707
Bogotá - Chapinero.svg
Santa Fe 2640 45.17 96,24107
Bogotá - Santa Fe.svg
San Cristóbal 2640 49.09 404,35007
Bogotá - San Cristóbal.svg
Usme 2700 119.04 314,43107
Bogotá - Usme.svg
Tunjuelito 2600 9.91 182,53207
Bogotá - Tunjuelito.svg
Bosa 2600 23.93 637,28315
Bogotá - Bosa.svg
Kennedy 2700 38.59 979,91407
Bogotá - Kennedy.svg
Fontibón 2600 33.28 317,17907
Bogotá - Fontibón.svg
Engativá 2600 35.88 824,33707
Bogotá - Engativá.svg
Suba 2700 100.56 1,161,50016
Bogotá - Suba.svg
Barrios Unidos 2600 11.9 230,06607
Bogotá - Barrios Unidos.svg
Teusaquillo 2600 14.19 139,29807
Bogotá - Teusaquillo.svg
Los Mártires 2600 6.51 94,94407
Bogotá - Los Mártires.svg
Antonio Nariño 2600 4.88 119,56507
Bogotá - Antonio Nariño.svg
Puente Aranda 2600 17.31 250,71507
Bogotá - Puente Aranda.svg
La Candelaria 2640 2.06 22,11507
Bogotá - La Candelaria.svg
Rafael Uribe Uribe 2600 13.83 378.78007
Bogotá - Rafael Uribe Uribe.svg
Ciudad Bolívar 2700 130 593,93707
Bogotá - Ciudad Bolívar.svg
Soacha 2565 184.45 522,44216 Preceramic site Tequendama
Herrera site
Muisca ceramics production
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Soacha.svg
Sibaté 2700 125.6 38,41215 Petrographs found
El Muña Reservoir
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Sibate.svg
Mosquera 2516 107 82,75015 Lake Herrera
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Mosquera.svg
Bojacá 2598 109 11,25415 Lake Herrera
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Bojaca.svg
Chía 2564 80 129,65216 Moon Temple
Herrera site
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Chia.svg
Cota 2566 55 24,91615 Petrographs found
Muisca community
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Cota.svg
Cajicá 2558 50.4 56,87515 Located in the funnel of the northern savanna
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Cajica.svg
Facatativá 2586 158 134,52215 Piedras del Tunjo
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Facatativa.svg
Funza 2548 70 75,35015 Muisca market town
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Funza.svg
Madrid 2554 120.5 77,62715 Lake Herrera
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Madrid.svg
El Rosal 2685 86.48 17,25415
Colombia - Cundinamarca - El Rosal.svg
Zipacón 2550 70 557015 Agriculture
Place of meditation for the zipa
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Zipacon.svg
Subachoque 2663 211.53 16,11715 Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Subachoqu.svg
Tabio 2569 74.5 27,03315 Hot springs used by the Muisca
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Tabio.svg
Tenjo 2587 108 18,38715 Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Tenjo.svg
Zipaquirá 2650 197 124,37615 El Abra
Muisca salt mines
Important market town
Petrographs and petroglyphs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Zipaquira.svg
Nemocón 2585 98.1 13,48815 Muisca salt mines
Preceramic site Checua
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Nemocon.svg
Cogua 2600 113 22,36115 Muisca ceramics production
Petrographs found
Neusa Reservoir
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Cogua.svg
Tocancipá 2605 73.51 31,97515 Preceramic site Tibitó
Muisca ceramics production
Important market town
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Tocancipa.svg
Gachancipá 2568 44 14,44215 Muisca mummy found
Muisca ceramics production
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Gachancipa.svg
Guasca 2710 346 14,75915 Siecha Lakes
Muisca ceramics production
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Guasca.svg
Guatavita 2680 247.3 689815 Muisca ceramics production
Main goldworking town
Petrographs found
Tominé Reservoir
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Guatavita.svg
Sopó 2650 111.5 26,76915 Herrera site
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Sopo.svg
Sesquilé 2595 141 13,93615 Lake Guatavita
Minor Muisca salt mines
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Sesquile.svg
Suesca 2584 177 17,31815 150 Muisca mummies found
Lake Suesca
Muisca ceramics production
Important market town
Petrographs found
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Suesca.svg

Panoramas[edit]

Panoramas
Panorama of the Tena Valley to the southwest of the Bogotá savanna, near San Antonio del Tequendama

Bogotá on the savanna

Zipaquirá

School in Cota

The northwestern part of the ancient Lake Humboldt is artificially represented in the Neusa Reservoir



La Conejera wetland

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 07; 2007, 15; 2015, 16; 2016
  2. ^ Bacatá refers to the southern part of the Bogotá savanna, ruled by the zipa based in Funza, but with various frequently visited other settlements, visibles in the names Nemocón (Nemequene), Zipacón, Zipaquirá, Tocancipá, Gachancipá

Bibliography[edit]

Geology[edit]

  • Dueñas, Hernando. 1980. Palinología de los sedimentos pliocénicos y cuaternarios de la Sabana de Bogotá. Boletín Instituto de Geociencias 31. 168-180.
  • De Porta, J. 1965. La posición estratigráfica de la fauna de Mamíferos del Pleistocene de la Sabana de Bogotá, 37-54. Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
  • De Porta, J. 1960. Los equidos fósiles de la Sabana de Bogotá, 51-78. Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
  • Huertas, Gustavo. 1960. De la flora fósil de la Sabana. Boletín Geológico, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga 5. 53-57.

Wetlands[edit]

Flora and fauna[edit]

History[edit]

Preceramic[edit]
Muisca[edit]
Conquest and colonial period[edit]