As the capital city of the Amazonas province, Leticia is the largest city for hundreds of kilometers yet still looks and feels very much like a small frontier town. It's located on the Amazon River at the crossroads – or more accurately, the cross river – point where Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet. Leticia is located about 800km from the nearest Colombian highway.
Leticia was founded in 1867 as San Antonio. The origin of its current name has been lost to history. In any case, it was part of Peru until 1922 when both countries signed a controversial agreement that ceded the land to Colombia. In 1932 a war broke out between Colombia and Peru, finally ending in 1933 after the League of Nations negotiated a cease-fire, ultimately awarding Leticia to Colombia. In the 1970s Leticia became a lawless hub of narcotics trafficking until the Colombian army moved in and cleaned things up.
Leticia is on the banks of the Amazon on the Colombia–Brazil border. Just across the frontier sits Tabatinga, a Brazilian town much the same size as Leticia, with its own airport and port – the main gateway for boats downstream to Manaus. Visitors can freely move between the two cities as well as the Brazilian city of Benjamin Constant, 25km downstream, and the Peruvian island of Santa Rosa opposite Leticia/Tabatinga. Travelers wishing to venture further into either country must meet immigration requirements.
Despite oppressive heat, humidity and man-eating mosquitoes, Leticia makes a pleasant base for exploring the rest of the Amazon.