San Andrés and Providencia

San Andrés and Providencia, district (1990 est. pop. 39,949), 21 sq mi (54 sq km), Colombia, comprising two small islands and seven groups of coral reefs and cays in the Caribbean 125–200 mi (201–325 km) E of the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua. San Andrés, on San Andrés (or St. Andrews) island, the largest in the group, is the capital. Providencia (or Providence) island is 55 mi (89 km) NNE of San Andrés. Coconuts and some fruit and vegetables are raised. There are deposits of poor-quality guano, but rich oil and gas deposits are believed to exist offshore. Tourism is important. The inhabitants are a mix of persons of African descent (Raizals) who speak an English creole and more recently arrived Colombians engaged in the tourist trade and duty-free retail enterprises.

The islands and reefs have also been claimed by Nicaragua, and have been a source of tension between Colombia and Nicaragua. In 2007 the International Court of Justice ruled that the status of the two islands was determined by a 1928 treaty between the two nations that awarded them to Colombia. The ICJ confirmed Colombia's ownership of the reefs and cays in 2012 but limited the associated maritime boundaries. Colombia's constitutional court, however, ruled that a treaty would be required between Colombia and Nicaragua for Colombia to recognize the 2012 decision.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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