- Population: 846,609 pop.* 846,609
- Surface : 20,848 km 2
- Temperature : From 27°C to 35°C
- Altitude: From 0 m.a.s.l. to 450 m.a.s.l.
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Where Is La Guajira on the Map ?
Municipalities of La Guajira
- San Juan del Cesar
- LaJagua del Pilar
Geography, boundaries and hydrography
The departmental territory corresponds mostly to the peninsula of La Guajira. The relief is formed by mountains, cliffs, plains and dunes.
Due to their marked physiographic differences, three different regions are considered from the northeast to the southwest:
The Alta Guajira, located in the extreme peninsular, semi-desert, with scarce vegetation and mostly cactus, and some mountain ranges that do not exceed 650 meters above sea level, such as La Macuira, Jarará and the hill of La Teta.
The majority of the Wayúu Indians live there and the infrastructure for coal and salt exploitation is located there, as well as many of the natural charms.
The Media Guajira covers the central part, with a flat and undulating relief, it is less arid. It is dominated by dunes and sand dunes.
Baja Guajira, also known as La Provincia, corresponds to the foothills and part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Perijá mountain range and the Montes de Oca. It is more humid, has arable land and offers a great diversity of climates.
The semi-desert plains and dunes near the coast are extensive and striking. The Guajira coastal strip alternates between cliffs and straight coastline. The main coastal features are: the bays of Portete, Honda, Hondita and Cocineta, Cabo de la Vela and the Coco, Aguja, Gallinas and Boca de Camarones points.
To the east, with the Caribbean Sea and Venezuela. To the north, with the Caribbean Sea.
To the west, with the Caribbean Sea and the department of Magdalena.
To the south, with the department of Cesar.
The most important watercourse is the Ranchería River, which rises in the Sierra Nevada and flows into the Caribbean Sea in the city of Riohacha. Of great importance is the Ranchería River dam, located in the village of Chorrera in the municipality of Distracción.
This dam was built to provide multiple water benefits and to supply a large part of the department in a regulated manner. Although this river has many streams, especially in its middle and lower regions, they are insufficient and of temporary course.
The Montes de Oca are, along with the Sierra Nevada, the most important water providers in the region, which is why their main and tributary streams are used for various human and agricultural purposes. The main courses are the Carraipía river and the Majayura stream.
Due to the physiographic characteristics of the department, the natural factors are very varied. In Alta Guajira, dividivi bushes, trupillo, palo de brasil, cactus and xerophytic species predominate. The fauna is abundant in fish, reptiles, especially sea turtles, and birds such as the pink flamingo.
In the Middle and Lower Guajira, areas of higher humidity, lower winds and lower altitudes, the natural characteristics are also varied.
The forest relicts maintain an enormous biological potential that is the basis for the natural processes of regeneration and restoration of the surrounding ecosystems, in addition to being refuges for endangered, endemic and migratory species.
The existence of forest remnants from the basal zone to the Venezuelan border at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level allows for ecosystem connectivity and guarantees the maintenance of genetic flows with the Perijá mountain range and the rest of the Eastern Cordillera, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Ranchería and Cesar river valleys and the Caribbean plain.
In 2021, the population was 846,609 inhabitants, 44 percent of which corresponds to the municipal capitals and 56 percent to the rural sector, generally small conglomerates and rancherías.
The climate in the peninsula is dry and with high temperatures (27 oC to 35 oC), cooled by the sea breeze and the northeast trade winds that blow during most of the year. Rainfall is scarce and generally occurs in the months of September, October and November.
The aridity of the peninsula means that economic development does not have the same speed as in other departments of the country, but this is not an obstacle, as it is of great importance and value its natural resources: coal, natural gas and sea salt.
These activities represent approximately 70 percent of the economy, followed by the service sector, especially tourism, which accounts for 15 percent.
Cattle and goat ranching, along with corn, sesame, rice, African palm, cotton, sugar cane and tobacco crops, account for 11 percent, and small and medium manufacturing industry accounts for four percent. The city of Maicao, on the border with Venezuela, is an important point of commercial activity.
The coal mine disaster
Two national natural parks and a wildlife sanctuary are part of the Guajira territory: Serranía de Macuira National Park in the Alta Guajira region;
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park, whose surface area is shared with the departments of Magdalena and Cesar; and Los Flamencos Wildlife Sanctuary, a short distance from the departmental capital.
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