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Colombia’s Top 5 Major Ports-Header.jpg

Colombia’s Top 5 Major Ports

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Updated on 10 Jan 2024
5 min read
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The republic of Colombia largely occupies the South American territory, but it has some territories in North America as well. Home to some of the world’s most exquisite emeralds and tropical landscapes it is also home to some of the most lucrative ports along the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast. These ports have facilitated trade and commerce with North America and other pacific based countries as well as South American counterparts. Colombia is the only country in South America with access to trade routes in the Pacific and Caribbean fronts.


Here are Colombia’s top five ports:


Port of Barranquilla


The port has is located next to the mouth of the River Magdalena along the Caribbean Coast of Colombia and it is home to one of the most modern liquid bulk facilities in the county. The Palermo tanks terminal is situated on the port premises and it has a capacity of 352,000 barrels of refined oil products and crude oil.


This terminal has two storage tanks, infrastructure to facilitate loading and unloading the liquid bulk and a dock to handle the vessels. The long-term vision for the port is to hold 2.5 million barrels of liquid substances ranging from asphalt to petrochemicals and vegetable oil.


Port of Cartagena


Known locally as Puerto Cartagena, but officially it is referred to as the Port of Cartagena de Indias. It is home to huge cruise liners ferrying passengers to the city of Cartagena as well as massive vessels with general cargo among other imports and exports. As the fourth largest port nationwide in Colombia it has the capacity of handling 80% of the regions imports and 60% of their exports. The Murcia region of Colombia has intense agricultural activities that provide fruit and vegetable worth over 2500 million Euros and majority of that produce passes through this port.


The port has two major docks located separately from each other by 1.5 miles of sea and five kilometers of road. The docks are Escombreras and Cartagena. Because the port is a deep-water bay protected from the wind it has weak currents. It features the Compas terminal which is housed in the El Bosque district and the contecar terminal in Ceballos district. Both handle dry bulk, liquid bulk, containers, breakbulk, and some cruise traffic.


Port of Santa Marta


Run by the Port Society of Santa Marta this port lies on the Caribbean Sea coast in Colombia. It consists of seven docks and has a railway service that facilitates loading and unloading of cargo making its way through the port. It is a premier port opening up Colombia into the seaborne trade routes within the Atlantic Ocean.


The port handles multiple types of cargo from palm oil to fuel and carbon as well as grain and containers. One of the biggest advantages of this port is its ability to cater to post-Panamax carriers which have high cubic cargoes. This port transports the third highest volume when it comes to bulk cargo from Colombia.


Port of Tumaco


The port of Tumaco is located in the city of Tumaco which lies along the Pacific Ocean. The premises has berthing facilities that handle the dry and liquid bulk that passes through this port. It also has an offshore terminal that handles the country’s export crude oil. Port of Tumaco has excellent connectivity to regions around it including the capital city of Colombia, Bogota and the western city of Cali, by road and by plane.


The bananas that are planted within the pacific lowlands find their way into the port for exportation but primarily it is used as a terminus for the crude oil from the oil fields of Putamayo which are about 160 kilometers to the Southeast of the port. It’s also a major fishing port facilitating the exportation of tuna and sardines. The presence of the airport nearby make this a popular port to import delicate, time sensitive good and products because they will reach the hinterland faster.


Port of Buenaventura


This is a seaport on the Pacific Ocean front of Colombia. It also happens to be the main port of call in the Pacific for the country. The port is also located in Tumaco and true to its name “good fortune” it has been a boon for the Colombian economy because of the volume of bulk it handles. The port of Buenaventura has direct access to trade routes with the Asian market which is starting to become just as lucrative as the US and European markets.


The port generates 27% of the total customs revenue for Colombia. It is able to attract investment and trade because of its close proximity to Mexico and Chile and accessibility to markets in south east Asia and beyond. The reinvention of Buenaventura into a hub of trade and commerce that is continually growing is impressive considering the fact that the city used to be one of the deadliest because of prevalent cocaine wars in the port.

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