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(kärtähā`nä), city (1993 pop. 616,231), capital of Bolívar dept., NW Colombia, a port on the Bay of Cartagena in the Caribbean Sea. It exports oil, coffee, and platinum. Manufactures include leather and tobacco products, cosmetics, and textiles. Tourism is a growing industry. Cartagena was founded in 1533 and became the treasure city of the Spanish Main, where precious stones and minerals from the New World awaited transshipment to Spain. Although the harbor was guarded by 29 stone forts and the city was encircled by a high wall of coral, Cartagena suffered sackings and invasions—in 1544, 1560, and in 1586 (by Sir Francis Drake). In 1741 it withstood a three-month British siege. The city was the first of those in Colombia and Venezuela to declare (1811) absolute independence from Spain. Known as the Republic of Cartagena, it was one of the bases used by Simón Bolívar to launch his campaign to liberate Venezuela. In 1815 the city was besieged and captured by the Spanish general Pablo MorilloMorillo, Pablo
, 1778–1837, Spanish general. Sent in 1815 to put down the revolution in New Granada, he captured Cartagena, quelled (1816) the insurrection in Bogotá, and then marched into present-day Venezuela. His military occupations were ruthless and bloody.
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, who inflicted savage reprisals on the population. Captured by rebel forces in 1821, Cartagena was incorporated into Colombia. After the revolution the city lost its importance and did not regain it until the 20th cent., with the improvement of communications and the laying of a pipeline to the oil fields of the Magdalena basin. Shady plazas and narrow cobblestone streets make Cartagena one of the most picturesque cities in Latin America. Points of interest include walls and fortifications from colonial times, a 16th-century cathedral, and the Univ. of Cartagena.


Lat. Carthago Nova, city (1990 pop. 175,966), Murcia prov., SE Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. A major seaport and naval base, it has a fine natural harbor, protected by forts, with a naval arsenal and important shipbuilding and metallurgical industries. Lead, iron, and zinc are mined and processed nearby, but the rich silver mines exploited in ancient times by Carthaginians and Romans are now almost exhausted. The city is an episcopal see. It was founded by Hasdrubal c.225 B.C. and soon became a flourishing port, the chief Carthaginian base in Spain. Captured (209 B.C.) by Scipio Africanus Major, it continued to flourish under the Romans. The Moors, who took it in the 8th cent., later included it in Murcia. The Spaniards recovered it definitively in the 13th cent. Cartagena was sacked (1585) by Sir Francis Drake and figured later in the Peninsular and Carlist wars. It served as the Loyalist naval base during the civil war (1936–39). In the 20th cent. it suffered from the competition of other Mediterranean ports (e.g., Barcelona, Málaga, and Valencia). The medieval Castillo de la Concepción, whose ruins are surrounded by fine gardens, commands a splendid view of the city and harbor. No traces of the ancient city remain.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and important port and industrial center in Spain on the Mediterranean coast, in the province of Murcia. Population, 147, 400 (1969). The port has an annual turnover of goods of over 10 million tons. Nonferrous metals and fruit are exported, and oil is imported. Oil refining (the capacity of the plant is approximately 8 millon tons) and the petrochemical industry are located in a suburb, the port city of Escombera; the production of lead, zinc, and cadmium is located in another suburb, La Union. Other industries include shipbuilding and chemicals (in particular, sulfuric acid). There is also a steam power plant, with a capacity of 250 megawatts.

Cartagena, known in ancient times as Carthago Nova, was founded around 228 b.c. by the military leader Hasdrubal as the Carthaginian military base for the conquest of Spain. The city was under Roman rule from 209 b.c. to the fifth century a.d. It was conquered by the Vandals in 425, by Byzantium in 534, by the Visigoths in the seventh century, and by the Arabs in 711. In the course of the Reconquista, Cartagena was annexed by Castile in 1243.

Cartagena was one of the ports of the Republican fleet duringthe National Revolutionary War of the Spanish People of1936–39.



a city in northern Colombia, on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, the administrative center of Bolivar Department. Population, 323, 000 (1971).

Cartagena is an important Colombian port, with a goods turnover of half a million tons in 1969. The city is linked by highway with Bogota. It is the economic and commercial distribution center of northern Colombia. The production of crocheted and knitted wear, shoes, vegetable oils, flour, and sugar are important branches of Cartagena’s economy. An oil refinery and chemical enterprises are located near the city. Exports include oil and coffee.

Cartagena was founded in 1533 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Heredia on the site of an Indian settlement. Cartagena was the largest port and fortress during the flourishing of the Spanish colonial empire.

Many monuments from the colonial period remain intact, including the strong city walls and fortifications (1532–1796, engineers J. B. Antonelli, A. de Arevalo, and others), the cathedral (1538–1796, architects, J. C. Chacon and others), and monasteries, churches, and houses of the 16th to 18th centuries, all mainly in the baroque style. Modern structures include the baseball stadium (1947, architects G. A. Ortega and M. G. Solano), with a reinforced concrete roof projecting far over the stands.


Porto del Portillo, R. Plazas y calles de Cartagena. Bogota, 1945.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a port in NW Colombia, on the Caribbean: centre for the Inquisition and the slave trade in the 16th century; chief oil port of Colombia. Pop.: 1 002 000 (2005 est.)
2. a port in SE Spain, on the Mediterranean: important since Carthaginian and Roman times for its minerals. Pop.: 194 203 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005