Cartagena, Colombia, also known as Cartagena de Indias, is a large seaport on the north coast of Colombia. Founded in 1533 by don Pedro de Heredia, and named after Cartagena, Spain, it was a major center of early Spanish settlement in the Americas, and continues to be an economic hub as well as a popular tourist destination.
Cartagena faces the Caribbean Sea to the west. To the south is the Bahia de Cartagena (Bay of Cartagena), which has two entrances: Bocachica in the south, and Bocagrande in the north. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Cartagena was a prime target for English and French pirates (such as Sir Francis Drake, who sacked the city in 1580). Many of Cartagena's fortifications still stand: the Castle of San Felipe, built between 1536 and 1657; the walls around the Old City (las Murallas); the undersea wall across Bocagrande built between 1771 and 1778; and the forts of San Jose and San Fernando, built between 1751 and 1759 at Bocachica.
Many colonial buildings can be found in the Old City, including the Palace of the Inquisition, a cathedral, the Convent of Santa Clara (now a hotel) and a Jesuit college. St. Peter Claver patron saint of the slaves worked in and from the Jesuit college. Just outside the city walls, you can see the "India Catalina" statue, a local Indian hero.
To the south of the Murallas is the modern city of Cartagena on the peninsula of Bocagrande. Cartagena is the capital of the department of Bolivar, with a population of 812,595 persons (1997 estimate). It is one of Colombia's major seaports as well as the terminus of an oil pipeline. The city is served by Rafael Núñez Airport, north of the city.
About 30km southeast of Cartagena are the Islas de Rosario (Rosario Islands), a nationally protected park which features an aquarium with trained dolphins and many varieties of tropical fish and sharks.
Due to Cartagena's tropical location, the climate changes very little, with an average highs of 31°C (88°F) and average low of 24°C (75.4°F) throughout the year. Cartagena also averages around 90% humidity, with a rainy season typically in October. Cartagena receives about 100cm (40 inches) of rain a year.