Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Colombia has great contrasts within its borders and harsh natural environments as a result of both topography and climate. The western part of the country is penetrated by the Andes with their high, snow-capped peaks and cool plateaus, while the low, hot swamps of the upper Amazon and Orinoco rivers fill its eastern and southeastern parts. Colombia is also the only country in South America that has longer coastlines along both the Pacific and the Caribbean.
The highlands of the Andes, which meets the western part of Colombia, is the dominant landform region. It is the northernmost part of one of the world’s highest and youngest mountain ranges, which has emerged by compressing the Nazca plate in the southeastern Pacific Ocean and lifting the western part of the South American plate. This process is still in operation, which is reflected in the numerous earthquakes in Colombia. The rocks that make up the highlands are predominantly Mesozoic and Tertiary. The Andes are divided into three separate main chains, of which the West Cordillera runs parallel to the Pacific coast. However, a smaller stretch of the mountain, the Baudagurgen, which is a continuation of the Panamanäs mountain, runs closest to the coast to the north. The West Cordillera is separated by the Caucasus River Valley from the Central Cordillera, which is the tallest of the chains, averaging 3,050 m above sea level. and with the top Huila 5 750 m above sea level. This is one of about 20 high and partly snow-covered, active volcanoes. In eruption, they can convert large amounts of snow into catastrophic sludge streams. This caused 25,000 people to die in 1985, when the Ruíz volcano erupted. On the other side of the Magdalena wide river valley, the long eastern Cordillera branch branches to the northeast, built up of marine sedimentary rocks and older shales and gneisses. There are several high plateaus, which are formed by filling the lake basin with young weathering material, e.g. Bogotás platåland. A little further north is the summit Sierra Nevada de Cocuy, 5 495 m above sea level. The mountain range branches into two, of which the west, the Perijá Mountains, forms a border between Colombia and Venezuela. An isolated granite fall outside the mountain range zone, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, has the highest point in the country, 5,775 meters above sea level,
Coastal plains spread within both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, though significantly wider and more undulating at the latter.
The eastern lowlands are a third landform region, comprising two-thirds of Colombia’s area. The northern parts, which belong to Llanos, are drained to Orinoco, the south to the Amazon River with the tropical rain forest, Selvas. The alluvial soil in the river valleys is suitable for cultivation, as is the volcanic, which, however, is easily exposed to soil erosion.
Because Colombia is cut by the equator in its southernmost part, the climate is tropical, but it varies, depending on the altitude and precipitation. The temperature difference during the year is slight, and the average temperature in the lower parts remains above 24 °C. The rainfall, on the other hand, varies; on the northern Pacific coast and in the central Magdalena Valley and in the Amazon region, it is around 2,500 mm per year and provides a tropical rainforest climate.
In the Caribbean low plains there is dry season from November to April and rainy season from May to October, with a short dry season blown in. The rainfall here is 1,000–1 750 mm per year and the climate a tropical savannah climate, which is also found in Llanos and in parts of the upper Magdalena valley.
Drier conditions, a tropical steppe climate, prevail around the Guajira Peninsula on the Caribbean with a rainfall of less than 750 mm per year.
In the mountain areas, where the temperature varies with the altitude, there are highland climates, and here, as in other Andean countries, the land surface is usually divided into different temperature zones. Up to 1,000 meters above sea level the annual average temperature is above 24 °C and the area is called tierra caliente. Between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level. tierra templada spreads with a temperature of 24–18 °C according to altitude. Between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level. is called the tierra free zone, and the temperature is 18-12 °C. At 3,000–4,500 m above sea level, the Páramo area, temperatures are below 10 °C and fog and wind are common. Elevations above 4,500 meters above sea level has constant snow and ice.
The vegetation is largely dependent on the climate. The area in the north, along the Caribbean coast, is covered by dry to desert fields with shrubs of the genera Bromelia, acacias, Mimosa and Prosopis as well as cacti. Originally, there were also dry forests.
Llanos, the eastern plains to Venezuela, is covered by grassland (partly cultivated) with scattered remains of a former tree and shrub vegetation. The area is largely flooded during the rainy season.
Colombia’s southern and southeast half and a coastal strip west of the Andes are covered (or covered) by moist, very rich rainforest-type forests. In a narrow belt along the foot of the western side of the Andes grows the country’s wettest (precipitation 4,000–10,000 mm per year) and most rich rainforest, which is still relatively intact.
In the lower parts of the Andes there are mountain forests (often moist) with several oak species and trees in the families stock plants, mulberries and myrtle plants. The trees here are rich in epiphytes of pineapple plants, ferns and mosses. Above 3 100–3 400 m above sea level. you will find páramo – moist grasslands with frail ions (tall basket-flowering plants) and Sphagnum mosses.
Much of the country’s original vegetation has been destroyed by man. So today, for example, many areas at medium height in the Andes, which were originally wooded, of bare, heavily eroded mountain sides.
Due to the country’s many and varied vegetation zones, the species richness of animals is great. The bird fauna is one of the world’s richest; 1,695 species have been observed, and it is expected that the list will be expanded to over 1,800. Oven birds, ant birds, tyrants, hummingbirds and parrots are species rich.
Of mammals, there are about 20 species of monkeys, jaguars, cougars, bush dogs, capybara and in the Andes mountain tapestries and eyeglasses. Among the reptiles are caimans, iguanas and rattlesnakes. The insect fauna is very rich, especially of beetles and butterflies. The freshwater fish fauna is estimated at over 1,000 species.
Colombia has about 60 national parks, which occupy about 10% of the country’s area. The largest is Serranía Chiribiquete (12,800 km2). Also mentioned are Puracé (páramo and forest with mountain tapestries, eyeglasses and northern pudu) and Isla de Salamanca (mangrove with rich wildlife).