ANDEAN REGION

Location

Named after the three Andes Cordilleras where this region is located.

Composed of beautiful mountains and valleys. It expands to about 305,000 squared km and it limits with Ecuador to the foothills of the Cordilleras in the plains of the Atlantic. From west to east to the external flank of the West Cordillera and the external flank of the East Cordilleras.

The three cordilleras have peaks of volcanic formation of more than 4,000 meters above sea level. The Central and the East cordillera have peaks of more than 5000 meters above sea level covered with permanent snow. A lot of these volcanoes are active and in the past they have caused major destructions and deaths due to the gas explosions and ash as well as ice and mud avalanches. The west of the country is more prone to the telluric activity which demonstrated its unstable geological nature. To the Northwest of the Western Cordillera you can find the mountain range called Serrania del Baudo, which continues through the Darien turning west towards Panamá. This region gets its name because the Andean Cordillera goes through it and it creates a great number of valleys, canyons, plateaus and rivers like The Cauca and Madgalena Rivers.

The departments in this region are: Antioquia, Boyaca, Caldas, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Huila, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Quindío, Risaralda, Santander, Tolima y Valle del Cauca.

Population

This region is made of all the departments located in the Andes Cordillera. More than 90% of the country’s population reside in this region, concentrated in all the urban centers.

The ethnic distribution is as varied as the number of departments that make part of it, this distribution manifest itself in the cultural diversity. Due to this diversity, it divides itself in sub regions which despite its similar folklore, there are clear differences marked by their geographic location.

Due to its mining, industrial and agriculture activity this region is vital for the country’s economy.

It’s vast size allows for a variety of accents and customs. Some of these accents include; paisa, boyancense, huilense, el tolimense and el rolo amongst others.

This region is located in the middle of the country.

This region has 34 million inhabitants, it is the most populated region in the country and the most active economically.

In its majority it is rural and mixed race.

Fauna

The Andean Region presents itself with a very rich fauna due to the climate conditions in the area. These are some examples:

The valley of the Magdalena River inhabits eagles, storks, and owls. From east to west and north to south you can observe Macaws, hummingbirds, turkeys, singing birds with beautiful plumage, partridges, gallinetas, chicken, cows, bulls, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits and many more.

In the river banks there and the areas where there is abundant vegetation it is common to see: danta, yellow tapir, squirrels, otters, crows, topos, leopards, monkeys, serpents, weasels, bears, rats. In the higher parts of the mountains there is scarce fauna. The condor, an animal that has resisted low temperature is endangered.

Flora

The altitude, amount of rain, temperature, light and the constitution of its ground are basic elements that influence the flora in any area.

Each thermal floor in the Andean Region has its own vegetation.

The warm thermal floor; from 0-1,000 meters is perfect for cultivating sugar cane, cotton, tobbaco, plantain, bananas, cocoa, rice, corn, palm tree, mangles, ceiba, totumo, tamarind, Caucho Tree, níspero, mamey, zapote, orange trees, lime trees, mango, pineapple and many more. The slopes in this altitude are covered with jungle trees of great height and impenetrable by men.

In the temperate or moderate thermal floor from 1,000-2,000 meters you can find guadua, gualanday, guava, avocado, guamas, cambulo, bucaro, anis, coffee, plantain, sugar cane, (until 1.500 m) guarumo, wax laurel, balso, ferns. There is an abundance of jungle with similar vegetation but a bit less developed.

In the cold thermal floor from 2,000-3,000 you can find barley, wheat, potato, vegetables, vegetable fiber, quinua which is very appreciated in commerce; red cedar, oak, laurel, white caucho, curtidera, monte celery, corn (until 2,800 m) strawberry, anis grape, monte grape. There are a lot of forests and grass vegetation.

In the thermal floor of barren plateaus above 3,000 meters the size of trees starts to decrease a vegetation is scarce. Predominantly there are ferns and moss

4,000 meters there’s mainly different types of grass

4,400 meters only some lichens

Above 4,400 there is not vegetation because this is where permanent snow starts.

In order to feed themselves, plants need grounds rich in minerals like iron, cal, phosphorus, etc. It must have mud and clays for the plants to have enough sand and humidity that allows for proper oxygenation.

Cuisine

Due to its great variety of food and locations, it is necessary to divide the region from a culinary point of view:

Antioquia y Gran Caldas: they have very traditional culinary tastes: their people have transformed the mountain dish, based off of beans with white rice, ground beef, chicharron (pork rind), chorizo or morcilla, fried eggs, avocada, plaintain, fried plantain, corn arepas. This is called the bandeja paisa the most representative dish of the region.

Los Santanderes: they have a rich variety of dishes. The most know are the fricasse goat, mondongo, rabbit stew and as heritage to the Guane indigenous people: the hormigas culonas (Colombian ants)

Music and Dances

Amongst the picturesque Andean traditions the following dances stand out: Bambuco, Torbellino, Guabina, Pasillo, Bunde

As mentioned before this region is the most populated in the country, with 34 million inhabitants. It is made of the Central, Western and Eastern Cordilleras and the most important rivers are the Magdalena and Cauca. The Eje Cafetero or Coffee Region consists of the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindio called the Coffee Triangle and finally Antioquia with the capital being Medellin.

The coffee region was declared People’s Heritage since 2011.Due to the recognition from UNESCO, which determined the Coffee Triangle as Coffee Cultural Landscape, this region has become a major attraction for people around the world.

The men who live in this region dress in black or white pants with stamped shirts, espadrilles, poncho, leather satchels, hat and handkerchiefs. The women often wear long skirts with flowers on them, white blouses with sleeves to their elbows and a bolero of the same fabric, they often put their hair in long braids. The often carry basket in which the collect coffee and most of them wear big hats to cover themselves from the sun while they collect coffee.

Festivals and Fairs:

Flower Fair: The silleteros show off their silletas filled with flowers weighing an average of 120 kilos. Florists and growers in this department of Colombia await with angst this event which takes place annually in Medellín.

Manizales Fair: This is one of the most important fairs in Colombia, where there are concerts, events, exhibitions, and the well-known Bull fighting Festival as well as the National Coffee Contest. This beautiful fair takes place in the month of January.

Traditional Festival and The National Bambuco Beauty Pageant: This is an event that takes place in Neiva once a year. The music, the carnival troupes, and the show of typical dances of the region are the activities that take place once a year from the middle of June to the beginning of July.

Typical Dances of the region:

El Bambuco: It is the traditional manifestation of the people of mixed race in the Andina region in Colombia, an its essence makes it the national dance that most represents the country. There are quite a few hypothesis regarding its origin, one of them highlights the anthropogeographic essence of indigenous, black African and Spanish origin. The indigenous hypothesis defends the chibcha music which has a saddened tone in its slow rhythm.

Some anthropologists discuss the existence of the indigenous people “bambas” in the pacific coastline and the presence of their language ending in “uco” as well as the designation of bambucos” in the musical reference to their movement of “bambaleo”.

The African hypothesis has exposed the thesis about the word “bambuco” which it is quite well accepted, which is based on the instrument used by the negros antillanos called “bambucos” made out of bamboo tubes.

Lastly, the Spanish hypothesis is based on the possible vasque heritage that has bambuco rhythm. The vasque rhythms, amongst them the zorticico, present agile, joyful and loose rhythms that support the melodies which are very similar to the Colombian bambuco.