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Cauca Valley

Cauca Valley

Cauca Valley, an inland valley of southwestern Colombia between the western and central chains of the Andes. It is the site of one of Colombia's most developed networks of urban centers, with Cartago at the northern end and Cali, the main urban center of the valley, at the southern end. No other area of Colombia can boast such a significant network of middle-sized urban centers.

Considered one of the most fertile plains in Latin America, the region was stagnant economically for centuries and absent from participation in the world market. The opening of the Panama Canal, however, provided the impetus for economic transformation. Growth was further stimulated by the phenomenal sugar cane boom of 1930–1980, which transformed the inefficient haciendas into the large-scale sugar agribusinesses of today—a process that, unfortunately, provoked a certain amount of violence in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1950s the entrepreneurial elite of Cali provided another economic boost by promoting the creation of a regional development corporation modeled after the Tennessee Valley Authority—the Corporación autónoma regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC)—which has been instrumental in promoting electrification, dam construction, and land reclamation.

The valley was immortalized in local resident Jorge Isaacs's canonical nineteenth-century novel María, read by most Latin American high school students, even today.

See alsoIsaacs, Jorge .


Raymond E. Crist, The Cauca Valley, Colombia: Land Tenure and Land Use (1952).

Richard P. Hyland, El crédito y la economía, 1851–1880. Vol. IV, Sociedad y economía en el Valle del Cauca (1983).

José María Rojas, Empresarios y Tecnología en la Formación del Sector Azucarero en Colombia, 1860–1980. Vol. V, Sociedad y economía en el Valle del Cauca (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Cardale de Schrimpff, Marianne. Caminos prehispánicos en Calima: El estudio de caminos precolombinos de la cuenca del alto río Calima, Cordillera Occidental, Valle del Cauca. Santafé de Bogotá: Fundación de Investigaciones Arqueológicas Nacionales, Banco de la República, 1996.

Ramírez Santos, Alberto. Maravillosa Colombia: El Folklore, El Valle del Río Cauca, Los Andes del Sur. Madrid: Printer Latinoamericana Editorial, 2003.

Saavedra Rivera, Libardo. Gorrones, salseros y montaneros: Una mirada antropológica al Valle del Cauca. Bogotá: Fundayudas, 1995.

Salgado López, Héctor. Asentamientos prehispánicos en el noroccidente del departamento del Valle del Cauca. Bogotá: Fundación de Investigaciones Arqueológicas Nacionales, Banco de la República, 1986.

Trimborn, Hermann. Señorío y Barbarie en el Valle del Cauca: Estudio sobre la Antigua civilización Quimbaya y Grupos afines del Oeste de Colombia. Colombia: Editorial Universidad del Cauca, 2005.

                                                 JosÉ Esorcia

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