Central Cordillera of Colombia: characteristics, formation, relief - science - 2023



TheCentral Cordillera of Colombia It is a mountain range that forms the axis of the Colombian Andes together with the Eastern Cordillera and the Western Cordillera. In its development starting in the south in the Colombian massif and up to the San Lucas mountain range to the north, it manages to travel approximately 1,023 km, occupying an approximate total area of ​​129 737 km2 with a maximum width of 449 km.

On this mountain range of high snow-capped mountains and active volcanoes is the so-called Eje Cafetero de Colombia and on its way it crosses several important Colombian departments, where some of the main cities of the country have settled.

As expected, this mountain range presents a range of possibilities in terms of fauna and flora, climate and resources, all of this enhanced by its changing relief that goes from the plains, passing through the level of the tropical forest to climb to heights of perpetual snow. .


Together with the Occidental and the Oriental, the Central Cordillera of Colombia supports 70% of the country's total population. Although it is true that the steep topography of the landscape has been a limitation in the growth of the population on a larger scale, it is also true that it has brought out the best of its inhabitants to adapt and seek their resources.

Bounded to the west by the Cauca River and to the east by the Magdalena River, there are important cities in Colombia. Some of them are: Medellín, Popayán, San Juan de Pasto, Ibagué, Armenia, Manizales and Pereira.

-Main economic activities

Oil exploitation

This activity has been developed since 1986, and is the basis of the current economy of the country.

Livestock and agriculture

Up to 1000 meters above sea level, bananas, plantains, rice, cotton, tobacco, cocoa and sugar cane are grown.

Between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level, corn, coffee, and fruits such as citrus, pears, pineapples and tomatoes are grown; and between 2000 and 3000 meters above sea level wheat, barley, potatoes and flowers are grown.


Emeralds, platinum, silver and gold for export stand out. For the domestic market, cement, coal, clay, salt, sand, gravel and silica are produced.


This activity is one of the most prosperous in this region, given its biodiversity and that it is an obvious tourist attraction.


The surface of our planet is in constant motion, and from the movement and encounter of tectonic plates all the topographic features that we can see around us have arisen.

It is this orogenesis that is responsible for the creation of the Andes and the Colombian mountain ranges. This geological process of folding of the earth's crust along a vast expanse is what provides the opportunity to enjoy perpetual snow or deep crevices near the plains where it disappears.

The last orogenic folding was the Andean-Alpine, which is estimated to have occurred in the Middle and Upper Cretaceous period. The first Colombian mountain range to emerge was the Central, during the Triassic-Jurassic period between 225 and 145 million years ago.

During the time that this mountain range rose (Mesozoic era), the mega-continent Pangea separated on the world stage. Other geological processes occurred in parallel due to the intense volcanic activity; these are now noticeable in the thick stripes of deep red or black colors in exposed areas of the mountainous structure.


This formation allows going from 0 to almost 6000 meters above sea level, where its highest point known as the Nevado de Huila is located.

The formation begins to the south, in the so-called Nudo de Almaguer or Colombian massif, and descends towards the north to disappear in the plains and plains of the San Lucas mountain range.

On this road from south to north, and while it separates into the three mountain ranges that make up the Colombian Andes, it leaves different accidents, peaks, snow-capped mountains and volcanoes. We will describe the most prominent ones below:


Nevado del Huila (5750 masl)

It is an active volcano located between the Huila, Tolima and Cauca departments.

Nevado del Tolima (5216 masl)

It is a volcano located in the homonymous department and is part of the Los Nevados National Park.

Nevado del Quindío (5150 masl)

Dormant volcano that is also part of Los Nevados National Park

Nevado de Santa Isabel (4965 masl)

Mountainous formation located between the departments of Risaralda, Caldas and Tolima. It is part of the Los Nevados National Park

Nevado El Cisne (4800 masl)

It is an inactive volcano, also part of the Los Nevados National Park.


Puracé Volcano (4646 masl)

Active volcano located in the department of Cauca. It is part of the Puracé National Park.

Pan de Azúcar Volcano (4670 masl)

Inactive volcano located in the department of Huila

-Other geological formations

Colombian massif

Also called Nudo de Almaguer, it is the starting point of the Colombian mountain range and of a large part of the rivers that bathe the region. There are heights that range between 2,600 and 4,700 meters above sea level.

Plateau of Santa Rosa de Osos

It is located in the department of Antioquia, with altitudes between 1000 and 3000 meters above sea level.

Serranía de San Lucas

It is a mountainous formation whose heights range from 0 to 2600 meters above sea level. It is located between the departments of Antioquia and Bolívar.


The Central Cordillera of Colombia gives the possibility of enjoying all possible climates, going from an intense heat to a freezing climate just by traveling along its valleys and mountains. We can identify the following types of weather:


It is present up to 1000 meters above sea level and has an average temperature that exceeds 24 ⁰C. It is dominant in the plains of the mountain range and is key to the production of certain fruits.

Rain forest

It implies temperatures that exceed 27 ⁰C and with a very high humidity. These areas are preferably located towards the north face of the geological formation.

Temperate / medium

Low mountain areas between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level are those that have this type of climate, under which temperatures can be between 17 and 24 ⁰C.


Between 2000 and 3000 masl we will find the temperatures that define this climate band: they range from 12 to 17 ⁰C.


Upon exceeding 3000 and up to 4000 meters above sea level, we will find temperatures between 6 and 12 ⁰C. Humidity is low at this point and is noticeable in the predominant vegetation type.


Those travelers who dare to exceed 4000 meters above sea level will find temperatures below 6 ⁰C and breathing difficulties.


The richness of the biodiversity of the area goes hand in hand with the rivers and bodies of water that are found throughout the mountain range. Many of these see their source in the Colombian massif and leave their nutrients for thousands of kilometers.

There are several hydrographic slopes that are identified in their journey from south to north. The main one is the so-called Caribbean slope, the longest and most important for the country.

In this there are several holes, which are nothing other than the set of rivers and bodies of water that flow in this slope.

Some of the most important rivers in the central mountain range of Colombia are the following:

- Magdalena (main river in Colombia).

- Cauca.

- Caquetá.

- Patia.

- Saldaña.

- Nima.

- Amaime.

- Tulúa.

- Amoyá

- Cambrín.

- Anamichú.

- Otún.

- Totarito.

- Molinas.

- Medellin.

It is worth noting that these bodies of water constitute a vital communication route for the growth of the economy, and with the construction of dams and reservoirs an additional boost is given to the quality of life of the inhabitants of the areas they serve.

The electrical energy produced by the aforementioned dams is practically an inexhaustible natural source of resources that would only be affected if the necessary ecological and maintenance measures were not taken.

Another interesting point is the existence of many underground, mineral and volcanic water currents. The former function as providers of the vital liquid in optimal conditions for consumption; the rest are a source of supply for sulfur mines.

The hot springs, very frequent thanks to the volcanic activity of various elements in the area, are a source of income thanks to tourist exploitation.


Life flourishes without restrictions thanks to the existence of several bodies of fresh water that see their birth in this mountain range, the same ones that in the past allowed the emergence of the many populations that today are maintained and grow thanks to the resources of that land. .

The greatest threat to the region is the intensive illegal hunting and exploitation of resources without recovery plans in affected areas. Large areas of forests are disappearing little by little and the diversity of the fauna is diminishing.

However, the creation of protection areas and national parks together with stricter regulations will help in the medium and long term to reforestation of the most sensitive sites and the return of species that guarantee the balance of biodiversity.


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