What you need to know about Barranquilla

Map of Barranquilla- Colombia

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Barranquilla is a city and municipality located in northern Colombia. It is the only major city in South America that was populated before its formal foundation. Barranquilla is located near the Caribbean Sea. The city is located in the Atlántico Department, of which it is the capital. Barranquilla is the largest city and port in the northern Caribbean Coast region of Colombia, with a population of 2,370,753 as of 2011 in its metropolitan area, which makes it Colombia’s fourth most populous city after Bogotá, Medellín and Cali.

Barranquilla lies strategically next to the delta of the Magdalena River, 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) (originally 25 kilometres (16 miles) before rapid urban growth) from its mouth at the Caribbean Sea, serving as port for river and maritime transportation within Colombia. It is also the main industrial, shopping, educational and cultural centre of the Caribbean Region of Colombia. The city is the core of the Metropolitan Area of Barranquilla, which also includes the municipalities of Soledad, Galapa, Malambo, and Puerto Colombia.

Barranquilla was legally established as a town on April 7, 1813, although it dated from at least 1629. It grew into an important port, serving as a haven for immigrants from Europe, especially during and immediately following World War I and World War II, when waves of additional immigrants from the Middle East and Asia arrived. Barranquilla became Colombia’s principal port, and with its level of industrialization and modernity earned the city the nickname Colombia’s Golden Gate (Spanish: La Puerta de Oro de Colombia). In the 1940s, Barranquilla was the second largest city in Colombia and one of the most modern cities in the Caribbean and in South America, while later, local administrations, due to widespread corruption in their ranks, brought about a decline in the standard of living. As government investment increased in other Colombian cities, Barranquilla’s national position was eclipsed.

The city is home to one of the most important folk and cultural festivals of Colombia, the Carnival of Barranquilla, which was declared a National Cultural Heritage by the Congress of Colombia in 2001 and recognized by UNESCO in 2003. Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, built in Barranquilla in 1919, was the first airport in South America. The city is served by domestic and international flights.

Population: 1.218 million (2015)


In Barranquilla, the people speak a variant of Español costeño (“Coastal Spanish”) with well-defined local variants and accents.


The currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso(abbreviated as COP). You will find coins in 50, 100, 200 and 500 denominations, as well as banknotes in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000 Pesos.


The city is located in the northeastern corner of the department of the Atlantic, on the west bank of the Magdalena River, 7.5 km (4.7 mi) (originally 25 km (16 mi) before rapid urban growth) from its mouth in the Caribbean. The municipality covers an area of 154 km2, equivalent to 4.5{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d} of the area of the Atlántico Department. Barranquilla is located at latitude 10° 59 ’16 “north of the Equator and longitude 74° 47′ 20” west of Greenwich, with reference to the Plaza de la Paz, ground zero of the city. The urban area is built on a slightly inclined plane whose extreme heights, according to the Codazzi, are 4 m and 98 m east to west. Other sources say the slopes accidental heights of up to 120 meters outside the city. According to Google Earth, the height of the city varies between 0 m in the western breakwater, up to maximum 142 m in the neighborhood of Los Nogales. Politically, Barranquilla is limited to the east by the department of Magdalena (in between the Magdalena River), north to the town of Puerto Colombia and the Caribbean Sea, west with the municipalities of Puerto Colombia, Galapa and Tubará and south with the municipality of Soledad.

The main river is the Magdalena River; other rivers include the Arriba, Los Tramposos, La Ahuyama, La Tablaza and Las Compañías; streams run through the barrios of Rebolo, Santo Domingo, Las Américas y el Bosque; El Lindero, El Platanal, El Salado, El Salado 2, Don Juan, Hospital, La Paz, Bolívar, Felicidad, Coltabaco, Siape, Calle 92, and the streets 8, 15, 19, 51, 53, 58, 65 and 71. There are also the marshes of Mallorquín Swamp. The north of Barranquilla, from 11° N, corresponded to a region “with good chances of rain water infiltration, ” while the southern part appears as “low infiltration, poor soil and possible flooding from rain.”

The geological composition of the region is the Tertiary period (Miocene and Pliocene) in western hills and Quaternary (Pleistocene and Holocene) in the more flat, like the sole of river. According to the Geographic Institute Agustin Codazzi, the materials in the area are mainly Quaternary alluvial, lacustrine, fluviolacustre. The land ranges from banks, dikes, terraces, valleys, narrow, small alluvial fans, to marshes, swamps, flats and hills. The materials of the Tertiary (Miocene and Pliocene) are in the western hills, and presented as varied slopes.


Barranquilla has a tropical savanna climate (Aw) according to Köppen climate classification; it is hot all-year-round, with high levels of relative humidity. The average temperature is 28.4 °C (85 °F). Daytime temperature usually remains around 32 °C (90 °F). Nevertheless, from late November to early April, trade winds more or less cool it to a more comfortable temperature during daylight. During evening and through the night, temperature can change due to the strong winds it receives. Rainy seasons are from April to June and from August to November, when some streets flood producing “arroyos” (streams) that can be very dangerous, given the lack of appropriate rain drainage in some sectors of town.

Crime and security

In Barranquilla, in 2007 there were 348 homicides compared to 391 in 2006, a decrease of 11{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d} over the previous year. In Colombia, in 2007 the homicide rate per 100,000 population from Barranquilla is only exceeded by those of Cali , Bucaramanga (32) and Medellín (30). In the past 6 years (2002–2007), however, the number of homicides has been declining, the lowest performing in 2007, with a peak of 483 killings in 2003. Thuggery (42.24{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d}), fights (31.61{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d}) and robbery (14.94{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d}) are the main types of homicide in the city. Historically, the days when most homicides occur are Saturday and Sunday, but in 2007 there was a uniform distribution (approximately 15{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d}) on all days.

85.23{ad5ea6bb763c85d66ebbfa64a46f72c4c205a8ecfd36833dd2de038b5dff1c6d} of homicides are by firearm; Barranquilla and Cali in 2007 recorded the highest percentage of homicides involving firearms in Colombia. Most homicides are concentrated in the centre and south of the city. Another type of crime in Barranquilla also showed a growth trend over the past two years is theft, commercial entities (713 in 2007, 630 in 2006, mainly in the north and centre), residences (528 in 2007, 467 in, 2006 mainly in the north), financial institutions (20 in 2006 21 in 2007 mainly in the north) and people (2,692 in 2007, 2,146 in 2006, mainly in centre, north and south).

The programs developed by the Policía del Atlántico to improve safety are: CAI Mobile Community, Youth Civic Police, DARE and Make Peace. Citizen Support Network is made up of School Safety, Security Fronts, the Road Information Community Networks, the network of informants and collaborators and the Support Network and Communications. Community management has sought to increase police presence on the streets and neighborhoods and has set up the Police Bike Block which consists of 1 officer, 3 NCOs, 8 and 60 auxiliary patrol graduates.The city is operating the emergency telephone system of the National Police, through the toll free number 112. In addition to the National Police, the Fire Department, Civil Defense and Red Cross assist in the maintenance of public safety.


Throughout the year, the city has considerable cultural activity, it is best known is the Carnival of Barranquilla, one of the most famous festivals in Colombia. It is a multicultural event that is held every year in February and welcomes the world to four days of celebrations, costumes, and parades highlighting the cultural traditions from the 19th Century.[134] It is held annually during the four days preceding Ash Wednesday-Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, usually in February or early March. In 2001 it was declared the “Cultural Patrimony of the Nation” by the National Congress of Colombia and in 2003 “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. The city is home to varied manifestations as folk dances, songs, games, legends, tales and superstitions, among others, many of which reach their peak during the Carnival.

Barranquilla is home to many cultural events like art shows, exhibitions, literary workshops, talks philosophy, plays, poetry workshops, dances, exhibitions, concerts and festivals like the Festival de Orquestas under the Carnival and Barranquijazz. Since 1957 it conducts the Concert of the Month, for the dissemination of classical music.

The culture is promoted in the city by the Institute of Culture and Tourism of Barranquilla,[135] assigned to the Mayor, and entities such as the Centro Cultural Cayena of the Universidad del Norte, the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Universidad del Atlántico, Centro Cultural de Comfamiliar, Combarranquilla, Fundación Carnaval de Barranquilla, Banco de la República, Alianza Colombo-Francesa, Centro Cultural Colombo-Americano, Salón Cultural de Avianca, Corporación Luis Eduardo Nieto Arteta, Complejo Cultural de la Antigua Aduana, Biblioteca Piloto del Caribe, lBiblioteca Infantil Piloto del Caribe, File Histórico del Atlántico and the Centro de Documentación Musical Hans Federico Neuman; among many others.


Health in Colombia is governed by legislation (Act 100 of 1993) and is regulated by the Ministry of Social Protection. At the local level, it is in charge of two state institutions, the Ministry of Health and the State Social Enterprise Caprecom as administrator of the hospital administrative units (four hospitals, 6 Maternal Units and Child Health Centres) to replace the Public Hospital Network (Redehospital), in liquidation. Other institutions include the Colombian Red Cross, the Colombian Civil Defense, in charge of emergencies, calamities and natural disasters, and the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF),responsible for the comprehensive protection of the family and children.

Some of the notable public hospitals of the city are Hospital General de Barranquilla, Hospital Pediátrico de Barranquilla, Hospital Nazareth, Hospital La Manga, Hospital Universitario Metropolitano. Hospital Universitario Cari E.S.E, Hospital de la Universidad del Norte, Hospital Niño Jesús and Hospital del Seguro Social and the 6 maternal-child units of Santa María, La Playa, La Chinita, Las Flores, La Alboraya and Juan Mina. The city also contains 19 health centres and 28 health posts. At each location of the city, a center or health post. These institutions can provide services to primary and secondary care, with the exception of the Pediatric Hospital, which serves partial third level. In addition, the city operates a large number of private clinics that serve high levels of complexity (3 and 4) and multiple medical specialities.


Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport was built in Barranquilla in 1919, becoming South America’s first. The city is served by domestic and international flights.

Pumarejo Bridge over the Magdalena River is one of the most prominent civil engineering works in the city, and the longest in Colombia at just over 1.5 km (0.9 mi). The traffic in the city and its metropolitan area is governed from 2009 by the Ministry for Mobility.

In 2001, the district administration started developing TransMetro metropolitan mass transit system.[163] This transport system uses articulated buses traveling on exclusive lanes and stations where passengers board on. In 2015 the system was used by about 110000 people daily.

In 2010, the taxis operate a minimum charge of COP 4300 (USD $2.17) for a distance of up to 3.5 km (2.2 mi). To cover distance races over the minimum, the fee is negotiated directly with the driver and can reach up to COP 20,000 (USD $11.4) depending on the distance covered. Taxi service can also be contracted by the hour, COP 15,000 (USD $7.58). Several private companies provide taxi service in the city, which can be ordered by telephone for safety. In 2015 Uber started offering rides in the city in the midst of a debated arrival of this new transportation mode in Colombia.

In the city a network of buses and minibuses routes are where fares vary depending on model (old) and amenities like air conditioning. These prices are visible in the windshield of the vehicle and range from COP 1,300 (USD $0.60) and COP 1,500 (USD $0.75). The bus transportation is the most used by the population.

In the municipality of Soledad, south of the city, is the Metropolitan Transportation Terminal in Barranquilla, from which one can travel by land to major domestic destinations and Venezuela.

Barranquilla has a major sea and river port, third largest by cargo volume in the country. The waterborne terminal is managed, operated and marketed by the private Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Barranquilla. Traffic through the port of Barranquilla is regulated by the Captain of the Port of Barranquilla,which is responsible for the direction, coordination and control of maritime activities such as arrivals, departures, status of ships, safety, licensing, advertisements, among others.