Río Magdalena

Verlauf des Río Magdalena (blau)
process of the Río Magdalena (blue)

the Río Magdalena (Magdalenenstrom, Magdalena) is a river at 1538 km length in the west of Colombia in South America. Its catchment area amounts to approx. 260,000 km ² and is in approximately as large thereby as that of the Rhine.

The two rivers are however of geography, the Flora and fauna etc. perfectly differently.

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the name of the river has to do with its discovery. Its discoverer, Rodrigo de Bastidas, and its landed men at the 1. April 1501 with their ships at the delta. As it was usual at that time, they designated the rivers and places after a holy one. The dailyholy at the 1. April was Maria Magdalena.

names and surname

the full name of the Río Magdalena is called: Río Grande de la Magdalena. From the Spanish “large river (Maria) of the Magdalena” is called translated.

The Indians gave different names to the river. The Kariben - Indians at the underflow called the Río Magdalena Caripuana, which meant translated “large water”. Some Indian peoples at the upper run called their part Guacacallo for “river of the graves”. Other natives at the river called it Yauma for “friend of the river”.

The Río Magdalena possesses many surnames. For this for example “nut/mother of all rivers” or “river of forgetting” counts.


situation and process

the entire lower run of the Río Magdalena cuts through the lowlandses in such a way specified of the Río Magdalena, which is enough in the east up to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and in the west to to the Antilles sea.

The Río Magdalena rises in the Zentralkordillere and is there also surrounded by extinct volcanos, like z. B. Alto del Purutal or Cerro de la Pelota. Afterwards the river flows eastward by the archaeological zone San Agustín. In this zone some meters large statues from stone were discovered, whose origin is a mystery. The river measures only 1.7 M. at the closest place. Subsequently, the Magdalena flows northward into the level, which separates the Zentralkordilleren from the Ostkordilleren. Thus it divides practically the mountains. The river flows northward by cities like e.g. Neiva or Barrancabermeja. Close El Banco leaves the Magdalenenstrom the mountain area and it comes to meeting with its largest tributary, the Río Cauca. From here on it flows after northwest. It flows last northward and with Barranquilla into the Caribbean sea.


Satellitenaufnahme der Mündung (unten). Das Süßwasser ist deutlich zu erkennen und noch kilometerweit nach der Mündung zu sehen. Oben (dunkle Bucht) befindet sich die Cienaga Grande
Satellitenaufnahme of the delta (down). The fresh water is to be recognized clearly and be seen still kilometres away after the delta. (Darken bay) the Cienaga Grande of the Río

Magdalena is above rises on the mountain knot of read dads into the Zentralkordilleren from the lagoon del Buey (also Laguna de Magdalena called) under that 2. northern degree of latitude. This lies in the Kolumbian administrative department Huila. Close one of the source is San Agustin.


of the 11. Degree of latitude with Barranquilla begins on the Río Magdalena to divide and a large muzzle delta form into several Mündungsarme. Here are islands, which are covered with jungles and are suspended strong inundations. Developed into the 1930ern the delta and now is Barranquilla directly at the delta. The fresh water of the Río Magdalena extends far into Caribbean seawater sea and is noticeable therefore still kilometres away after the delta.

San Agustín

the famous archaeology - zone San Agustín was discovered 1857 by the Italian Agostino Codazzi. He saw dozens of stone sculptures. These sculptures are large several meters and illustrate humans, e.g. a priest with a queue or a ball player, who carries out any action. To the most well-known researchers, who looked there for such sculptures, the German Eduard Seler and Konrad Theodor Preuss belongs.


Rodrigo de Bastidas, Entdecker des Río Magdalena
Rodrigo de Bastidas, Entdecker of the Río Magdalena

of the Spaniards Rodrigo de Bastidas from Sevilla investigated de la Cosa with two ships 1501 to a large extent unknown northern coast of South America together with the Kartografen Juan. From the east they came at the 1. April 1501 to the delta of the “large river”, the Rio Grande de la Magdalena. Bastidas and Cosa drove not river upward, but continued to go to the west. However today still another some of Bastidas' descendant at the river is to live.

Only again the Portuguese dared a closer investigation. On behalf the Portuguese queen Johanna of Kastilien drove on Jerónimo de Melo the river river upward. There they met the legendary kings of mark lectern.

The deputy governor Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada drove on the river 1536 with 600 men on the search for the source of the Rio Magdalenas. The source, then one believed, is in the gold country Piru. Gonzalo de Quesada and its crew came however only until Barrancabermeja.

1539 developed the first river port of Colombia on the Rio Magdalena close of the city Guataqui.

Of 6. April to 15. June 1801 visited the German researcher Alexander of Humboldt the river with its South America journey.


at the underflow lived in former times the kings of mark lectern. In this area the Kariben was settled, a people, to who cannibalism was after-said and by dessem name perhaps the word cannibalism deduces itself. The Kogi lives in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, mountains close of the delta. Directly at the underflow live for decades as well as no more Indians.

At the upper run today still Indians live in the proximity. For this counts the Andaquíes, which particularly lives in the jungles in the Amazon basin. South the Uitoto continues to live. Their ancestor is considered to some researchers as the designers of the mysteriösen stone sculptures of San Agustin. From approximately 1200 to 1540 also the Muisca lived at the upper run.


of the Río Magdalena about 1000 kilometers, navigable from the Caribbean coast to the inland port Honda, are and the main traffic route in the interior of Colombia. After the currentfast with Honda further 240 kilometers are navigable. Of Neiva (437 m and. M.) is navigable the river on, but interrupts above Honda (200 m and. M.) Qatar document the navigability on 150 km. Steam ships drive on the lower Magdalena 800 km far to Honda and since 1875 (steamer Moltke) also the distance to Neiva, lain above the currentfast.

history of the navigation

the natives drive on today still the Río Magdalena with boats named Champán. This Champánes consists of Zedernholz and is 15 to 20 m long. For instance in the center is a semicircular Palmrohrdach. They are moved with rudders or Staken. They were before the steam ships the only means of transport on the river. Around the whole river upward with these boats to drive on one needs nearly three months.

The first ships were steam ships, like at the Mississippi in 19. Century. They were introduced by the German immigrant Johann Bernhard Elbers. To 2. It received the exclusive right for the navigation on the Río Magdalena to July 1823. In the January of the next yearly the first ship drove named Fidelidad on the river. Because of many the driving wood in the water the impellers had to be shifted with the ships. Most ships sank however for different reasons (engine breakdown, depth or the ship were too unstable) and so came ever more competitor, that wanted to have also the right for the navigation. The Colombian president came Simón Bolívar the navigation for steam ships to 28 to several processes, to. January 1837 on the river for freely explained.

Flora and fauna


the plant world at the Madgalenenstrom are very exotic. On the banks palms ( Unama - palms) are, Yuccas, Koka, Kakteen (Kandelaberkakteen) etc. The Flora differs however depending upon height (gebirgig, level) or under and/or. Upper run. In the gebirgigen upper run is less jungle.

In 19. Century consisted still nearly each bank of sumptuous rain forest. In 20. Century came then the industry and the cities, but there is this very day much jungle on the banks.


the animal world at the Río Magdalena is various and unique. Most animals at the river are however threatened from becoming extinct.

There is a multiplicity of birds, under it also to owls, as for example the veil owl or the Brillenkauz, which apply with the natives as mystisch.

When particularly dangerously apply the crocodiles, alligators and Kaimane, which live in the upper and in the underflow. Here also the rare Korallenottern lives: Falsa coral and the gifige Micrurus corallinus.

On the banks live Jaguare, which applied to the Indians as holy. Large cats became extinct to a large extent. At the river live also Zebu cattle, apes and TAP Irish. The navel pig (Weissbartpekari) lives today only into the Serrania de la Macarena, a small high country about 200 km southeast the source.

In the river rare fish swim like for example the Rotbuckel Buntbarsch in the upper run or the Cachama, a popular food fish. At the river also poisonous Coya spiders live.

fossil animals

in the spring the river is often afflicted by downpours. Then earth is often rinsed off and it to come in some places fossils to the appearance. Here already the remnants of a giant armadillo or a Mastodons were found. Also Fischsaurier were already discovered, what did not mean however that there was the river already before several millions years. , The such remnants give themselves some hobby paleontologists ergattern.

myths and legends

around the river climb many myths and legends, which come partially from the Indian faith. There is also here the myth of the drowning in the white garb, which errs the ships in leads. This legend reminds of the sirens. The people in the cities on the banks are very superstitious and it give with them a great many verfluchte places, z. B. the level of Matanzas or Alto de read Pierra. A further myth is the house of Adolf Bastian Hars, which shines allegedly at night in different colors. Here the devil is to have the fingers in the play.


the largest supply of the Río Magdalena is the Cauca. While above Honda the river takes up only small supplies, because its valley has small width, it receives far down more important, like the Carare, Río Sagamoso and Cesar from the east and the Quali, Nare and Cáuca of the west. The Río Magdalena receives the Río Cauca by the Brazo de Loba. Above Honda gives it small supplies like the Río Sombrerillos or Río Matanzas of the east and the Río Mazamorras in the west. Altogether the Río Magdalena of thousands tributaries has, about which most are relatively small however.


of the individual channels was in former times the El Dique the most important leading after Cartagena. The greatest importance the channel going northward, which flows below Sabanilla into the Antilles sea, kept later. Because of its delta is a dangerous Barre.

places at the river

in the catchment area (with tributaries) of the Río Magdalena live about 80% of the entire Colombian population. The largest city directly at the river is Barranquilla, which is in the proximity of the delta of the Río Magdalena because of the Caribbean sea. Barranquilla is also the most important sea port of Colombia. The city has with dye 1.3 million inhabitant and is thereby the fourth largest city. Also different cities belong to Soledad with 320.115 (18.) to the 50 largest cities of the country, like Neiva with 348.920 (place 15),, Barrancabermeja with 202.167 (27.) and Girardot with 124.520 (40.) Inhabitants. La Dorado belongs with 45.000 inhabitants also to the larger cities.


at the upper run flows through the still small Magdalenenstrom several small places. The first large city is Neiva. Afterwards again small cities, like La Palmita or Purificacion , come until then Girardot follows. To Guataquil and Cambao Honda, one of the most important river ports of the river comes. Also for the navigation the place has a meaning. Shortly thereafter the Río Magdalena flows by La Dorado, which has even an airport. Now only small cities, under it postage Gutierrez, follow postage Boyaoa, postage Olaya or postage Carara over a long distance. The river is now a river, it follows Barrancabermeja, an important industrial city. To Mompos there are again only smaller places, like z. B. San Pablo, La Gloria, El Banco and Guamal. The Río Magdalena, which already received the Río Cauca, flows through now the cities Santa Ana, Plato, Calamar and Salamina. Calamar has an important river port. Because of the delta finally are the cities Sitionuevo, Soledad and Barranquilla.


the valley of the Río Magdalena, including that of the Río Cauca, is rich at oil and natural gas. These raw materials are promoted. Many large cities in the proximity possess oil refineries, like z. B. Barrancabermeja or Neiva. The first mentioned forms the center of the oil promotion. Barranquilla is an important industrial centre with aluminum -, glass - and wood industry.

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