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Regions of Colombia Over a ­north-­south distance of approximately 300 miles (483 kilometers), only two roads descend from the highlands to the coast. The northern half of the lowland is drained northward into the Gulf of Urabá and the Caribbean Sea by the Atrato River. The region holds one rather unenviable ­distinction—­it has one of Earth’s most soggy and sweltering climates. Temper-­ atures average approximately 80°F (26.7°C) year round, with little seasonal or ­day-­to-­day variation, and is it ever wet! Officially, Quibdó, located on the Atrato River southwest of Medel-­ lín, is the rainiest spot on the mainland of the Americas. But unofficially, Lloro, a small community located a short distance from Quibdó, holds the world record for annual precipitation. Its current average rainfall is 524 inches (13,310 millimeters)! Much of the region is covered by rainforest or swamp. There is little farmland, and few minerals have drawn people into the coastal lowland. As was noted, ­east-­west surface routes are all but nonexistent, and in a ­north-­south direction, no roads exist at all. The Atrato River does provide a water route from its val-­ ley settlements to the Caribbean lowlands and coast, however. All things considered, it is little wonder that even today fewer than 4 percent of all Colombians inhabit the region. Most resi-­ dents are of African origin or of mixed black and Amerindian ancestry. Few people of European descent chose to make this region their ­home. The only city of any size is the port of Buenaventura, which has a population of about 325,000. It has the advantage of being the only lowland city with reliable surface transporta-­ tion linkages to the interior. Both a railroad and paved highway provide access to the interior at Cali and beyond. Because of these facilities, Buenaventura is now Colombia’s major sea-­ port on the Pacific Ocean and also its primary port for coffee exports. Unfortunately, during recent years, the city has been plagued by violence, giving Buenaventura the dubious distinc-­ tion of now being Colombia’s “murder capital.” During the past several years, the city’s murder rate has soared to nearly



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