Cartagena, a fortified maritime city of the United States of Colombia, capital of a province of the same name and of the state of Bolivar, 410 m. N. N. W. of Bogota; lat. 10° 25' N., Ion. 75° 30' W.; pop. about 8,500. It is situated on an island beside the coast of the Caribbean sea, joined to the mainland by a series of artificial isthmuses, and to its suburb Jejemani by a wooden bridge. Both the city and suburb are surrounded by freestone fortifications, and on the mainland is an eminence 150 ft. high, which is, however, overlooked by the summit of Mount Popa, 550 ft. above the level of the sea, and not fortified, although it has repeatedly served as a successful point of attack against the city. The streets are narrow, the widest not being over 30 ft. broad, but regular, with paved or flagged sidewalks, and lighted with gas. The houses are of stone and well built; the majority have but one story. There are numerous public edifices of some beauty, especially the churches of Santo Domingo and San Juan de Dios (both bombproof); the monasteries of Santa Teresa and Santa Clara; that of Nuestra Sefiora de la Popa, on the mountain of the same name; and the cathedral, which is noteworthy for its magnificent marble pulpit.
Cartagena has a college, a naval school, a hospital, a theatre, etc. The port is one of the best on the N. coast of South America, and the only one in Colombia in which vessels can be repaired. The bay is divided into three sections: Boca Grande and Pascaballos, with a mean depth of 15 fathoms; Boca Chica, somewhat deeper, and defended by two strong castles; and the Caldera, as deep as the first, and thoroughly sheltered. The entrance to the bay is rather difficult; the tides are extremely irregular, and the roadstead for large vessels is distant nearly 3 m. from the city. The excessive heat is somewhat tempered by frequent sea breezes. The climate is not extremely insalubrious, especially in the dry season from December to May; but yellow fever epidemics at times commit fearful ravages, and leprosy is not uncommon. The lomba, a disease closely resembling yellow fever, in 1872 carried off G,000 victims in the course of a few months. Mosquitoes are very large and troublesome; and a small insect, the comejen, may destroy in a single night whole packages of silk, woollen, or linen fabrics. Maize, rice, beans, peanuts, yuca, and tobacco are produced in abundance, with plentiful supplies of cabinet and other woods, and various species of gums, medicinal plants, etc.
The exports to the United States are tolu, caoutchouc, vegetable ivory, mora, hides, and some other commodities. Delicious fish are taken in the bay, which is besides remarkable for enormous turtles, and for the number, voracity, and hideous appearance of the sharks found in it. - Cartagena was founded by the Spaniards in 1533, and fortified at a cost of $29,000,000. In 1544 it was seized by the French; it was taken by Sir Francis Drake in 1585, and again by the French in 1697. Admiral Vernon unsuccessfully besieged it in 1741. In 1815 it was taken by Bolivar, again surrendered to the royalists the same year, and was finally retaken by the republicans Sept. 25,1821.