Population, Political Divisions and Principal Cities
Cordillera Oriental, Cordillera Central, highland valley, commercial heart, Barranquilla
Colombia is divided into 32 departments and one capital district. The capital and largest city is Bogota, an industrial center with a population (1999 estimate) of 6,276,000. Other important commercial cities include the trading and textile centers of Medellin (1,958,000) and Cali (2,111,000); Barranquilla (1,226,000), which provides both a seaport and a major international airport; and Cartagena (877,000), a seaport and oil pipeline terminal.
Bogota, located on a mountain plateau in the Cordillera Oriental, is the heart of cultural and political life in Colombia. Medellin, situated in a highland valley of the Cordillera Central, is the most important economic area. Originally settled by migrants from Cartagena, Medellin grew into a gold-mining town, a general commercial settlement, and finally an important manufacturing center. Cali is located in the Cauca Valley. The city began as a center of coffee production, but it later developed as the commercial heart of the entire southern region.
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