ColombiaOne.comCultureExploring the Five Largest Departments of Colombia

Exploring the Five Largest Departments of Colombia


The five largest departments of Colombia showcase the country’s incredible geographical and cultural diversity. Credit: Jorge.kike.medina/CC BY 3.0

Colombia is a country of remarkable diversity, from its landscapes to its cultures. Within this beautiful nation, the departments (similar to states or provinces) are the building blocks of its administrative regions. Among the 32 departments, five stand out as the largest, each offering unique features, traditions, and natural wonders.

1. Amazonas: The Enchanting Jungle

Located in the southernmost part of Colombia, Amazonas is the largest department in terms of area, covering approximately 109,665 square kilometers. It shares borders with Brazil, Peru, and the Colombian departments of Putumayo, Caqueta, and Vaupes.

largest departments Colombia
Leticia, capital of the department of Amazonas, known as the “Gate of South America” and the “City of Light of Colombia”. Credit: Oscar Garces/Colombia Travel

This department of Amazonas is a true wonderland, characterized by dense rainforests, winding rivers, and a rich biodiversity that includes countless species of flora and fauna. The capital city, Leticia, is the gateway to the Colombian Amazon and serves as a base for exploring the stunning natural beauty of the region.

2. Vichada: Land of Llanos

Vichada is Colombia’s second-largest department, covering an area of around 105.947 square kilometers. Located in the eastern part of the country, it is known for its vast plains, part of the Orinoco River basin.

The colombian capybara is the largest and heaviest rodent in the world. Credit: Clodomiro Esteves Junior/CC BY-SA 2.0

These llanos, or grasslands, are home to diverse wildlife, including capybaras, anteaters, and a wide variety of bird species. Puerto Carreño, the capital, is a picturesque town situated along the Orinoco River, offering access to the region’s natural wonders.

3. Caqueta: The Green Heart

Caqueta, situated in the southern part of Colombia, covers an area of about 88.965  square kilometers. This department is characterized by its dense rainforests, making it one of the country’s greenest regions.

largest departments Colombia
The Chiribiquete National Natural Park is located in the Colombian Amazon region, specifically in the departments of Caqueta and Guaviare. Credit: Wikipedia/Carlos Castaño Uribe/CC BY-SA 3.0

The capital, Florencia, serves as a gateway to exploring the natural beauty of Caqueta, including its rivers, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Additionally, Caqueta is known for its commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable practices.

4. Meta: Where the Andes Meet the Plains

Meta, with an area of around 85,635 square kilometers, is the fourth-largest department in Colombia. It’s a land of contrasts, where the Andes Mountains gradually transition into the vast plains of the llanos.

largest departments Colombia
Caño Cristales in Meta department, known as the Reiver of seven colors of Colombia. Credit: Mario Carvajal/CC BY 3.0

The department is known for its extensive cattle ranches and agriculture, particularly rice cultivation. Villavicencio, the capital, is a lively city that offers a taste of both Andean and llanero (plains) cultures.

5. Guainia: An Amazonian Treasure

Guainia, covering an area of approximately 72,238 square kilometers, is Colombia’s fifth-largest department. Situated in the eastern part of the country, it is known for its stunning Amazon rainforests, pristine rivers, and remote indigenous communities.

largest departments Colombia
The Mavecure Hills in Guainia, Colombia, offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a remote and enchanting corner of the world. Credit: Felipe Rodriuez-Moreno/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The capital, Inirida, serves as a starting point for exploring the natural wonders and cultural richness of Guainia.

The five largest departments of Colombia showcase the country’s incredible geographical and cultural diversity. From the lush rainforests of the Amazon to the expansive llanos of Vichada and Meta, these regions offer a wealth of natural beauty and unique experiences for travelers and adventurers. Colombia’s size and variety make it a nation with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

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