The Port of Buenaventura is Colombia’s main port on the Pacific Ocean. On Cascajal Island where the Dagua River meets Buenaventura Bay, Buenaventura exports coffee and sugar from the Cauca River valley, wood from southwest Colombia’s coastal forests, and gold and platinum from the north. It receives oil by pipeline from Puerto Berrio, and it is served by the Puerto Berrio-Popayan railroad.
Most of the city has a rural atmosphere, and it is essentially a collection of villages. It lies a few miles west of the Andes range and about 78 kilometers northwest of Colombia’s capital, Cali. Getting from six to seven thousand millimeters of rain a year, it is one of the world’s rainiest cities. In 2007, over 300 thousand people lived in the Port of Buenaventura.
Originally founded in the mid-16th Century, the first site for the Port of Buenaventura had been destroyed by indigenous peoples before 1600. For most of its history, it was a small village with a hot humid climate and few dependable transportation routes. After the Panama Canal was opened in 1914, it began to grow and prosper as a port.
During the 1930s, the modern port was built and an airport was constructed, bringing new prosperity to the Port of Buenaventura. Today, the port is important not only for exports but for imports of raw materials for distribution to nearby areas.
Still the most important port in Colombia, the modern Port of Buenaventura is a hotbed of violence where drug traffickers, guerillas, and paramilitary groups struggle for dominance.