Tenza Valley

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Tenza Valley
Represa de Chivor 2014-09-11 (3).jpg
Chivor Reservoir and Dam in the Tenza Valley
Boyaca Topographic 2.png
Topographical map of Boyacá
Tenza Valley is located in the south
the elongated Chivor Reservoir
is inside the valley
Floor elevation395–2,095 m (1,296–6,873 ft)
LocationEastern Ranges
StateCundinamarca, Boyacá
Population centersTenza, Garagoa and Sutatenza
Coordinates5°05′00″N 73°25′00″W / 5.08333°N 73.41667°W / 5.08333; -73.41667Coordinates: 5°05′00″N 73°25′00″W / 5.08333°N 73.41667°W / 5.08333; -73.41667
The emeralds of Chivor and Somondoco were already mined in the time of the Muisca

The Tenza Valley (Spanish: Valle de Tenza) is an intermontane valley in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The valley stretches over the southeastern part of the department of Boyacá and the northeastern part of Cundinamarca. It is located east of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense and in the time before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca, as the Altiplano was inhabited by the Muisca in the higher altitudes and the Tegua in the lower areas to the east.


The Tenza Valley is named after Tenza which means in Chibcha: "Behind the mouth" or "Going down at night".[1]

Geography and geology[edit]

The Tenza Valley is situated in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes at altitudes between approximately 2,100 metres (6,900 ft) in the northwest and 400 metres (1,300 ft) in the southeast. The Lengupá River, part of the Orinoco drainage basin, flows through the valley and connects the higher altitude Altiplano Cundiboyacense with the Llanos Orientales.[2] The Une, Villeta, Socha, Macanal and Bogotá Formations outcrop in the valley. The valley is rich in water.[3] The average temperature is 20 °C (68 °F).[4]


The Tenza Valley was inhabited by the Muisca before conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada entered the central highlands of Colombia. The Tenza Valley was ruled by a cacique who was loyal to the zaque based in Hunza, present-day Tunja.[5] On the fertile lands of the valley the indigenous people elaborated their agriculture.[6] The valley was also important in the economy of the Muisca, hosting the important emerald resources of Chivor and Somondoco.

Archaeologist Juanita Sáenz Samper has discovered three agricultural terraces and five cemeteries hosting one grave and pertaining to pre-Columbian times. The research in the Tenza Valley has also uncovered typical grey ceramics of the area, called Valle de Tenza Gris.[7]

Modern times[edit]

The Chivor Reservoir, producing 8% of Colombia's hydroelectric energy, is located in the Tenza Valley.[6] Despite the pleasant climate compared to the colder regions of Boyacá, the Tenza Valley is not touristic.[4]


The temperate climate of the Tenza Valley allows for a variety in agriculture. Main products cultivated are maize, yuca, potatoes, papa criolla, sugarcane, tomatoes, bananas, coffee, fique, arracacha, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, mangoes, chirimoya, oranges, avocadoes, pineapples, mandarines, papayas, maracuyá, guayaba and lulo.

In terms of mining, the emerald mines of Chivor and Somondoco are important. Coal mines and gold extraction form another part of the mining business in the valley. Salt is mined on a minor scale in Sutatenza and gypsum is exploited in Macanal.

Municipalities in the Tenza Valley[edit]

Municipality Department Ruler(s) Altitude
urban centre (m)
Surface area
Remarks Map
Tenza Boyacá cacique 1600 51 Namesake of the valley
Colombia - Boyaca - Tenza.svg
Almeida Boyacá zaque 1925 57.98 Hydroelectric plant of the Chivor Reservoir
Colombia - Boyaca - Almeida.svg
La Capilla Boyacá zaque 1750 57.26
Colombia - Boyaca - La Capilla.svg
Chinavita Boyacá zaque 1763 148
Colombia - Boyaca - Chinavita.svg
Chivor Boyacá cacique 1800 108.36 Important emerald mines
Colombia - Boyaca - Chivor.svg
Garagoa Boyacá zaque 1650 191.75 Seat of the Diocese (Catholic Church)
Colombia - Boyaca - Garagoa.svg
Guateque Boyacá cacique 1815 36.04
Colombia - Boyaca - Guateque.svg
Guayatá Boyacá cacique 1767 112 Famous for its bread rolls (mogollas)
Colombia - Boyaca - Guayata.svg
Macanal Boyacá zaque 1680 199.5 Gypsum mining
Colombia - Boyaca - Macanal.svg
Pachavita Boyacá zaque 1985 68
Colombia - Boyaca - Pachavita.svg
Somondoco Boyacá zaque 1670 58.7 Emerald mines
Colombia - Boyaca - Somondoco.svg
Sutatenza Boyacá zaque 1890 41.26 Minor salt mining
Colombia - Boyaca - Sutatenza.svg
Manta Cundinamarca cacique 1924 105 Possible birthplace of
Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, assassinated in 1948
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Manta.svg
Machetá Cundinamarca zaque 2094 229.35
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Machetá.svg
Tibiritá Cundinamarca zaque 1980 57.2
Colombia - Cundinamarca - Tibirita.svg
Santa María Boyacá Tegua 850 326.44
Colombia - Boyaca - Santa Maria.svg
San Luis de Gaceno Boyacá Tegua 395 458.5
Colombia - Boyaca - San Luis de Gaceno.svg

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]