Buenaventura, Colombia's most important port. Buenaventura (1985 population of nearly 200,000) serves as the outlet to the Pacific Ocean for the agricultural and industrial produce of the Cauca Valley region. Established in 1539 amid hostility from the Noanamaes, the port's only passage through the western cordillera to the fertile Cauca Valley was provided by the treacherous Dagua River. It remained isolated and impoverished until the second half of the nineteenth century, when it began to grow as a point of export for sugar and coffee, which helped stimulate demands for the construction of the Pacific railroad to Cali. The completion of the railroad in 1915, along with the construction of the Panama Canal, defined the town's twentieth-century economic function. Although Buenaventura has a poorly developed infrastructure, it has the best port facilities in the country, through which one-half of Colombia's exports and most of its coffee travel.
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David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself (1993).
Poveda Ramos, Gabriel. Historia económica de Colombia en el siglo XX. Medellín: Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, 2005.