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Colombia's fourth-largest city, the hardworking port town of Barranquilla is located on the delta of the massive Río Magdalena and laid out in a tangled ribbon along mangroves and the Caribbean Sea, sweltering and hustling in the blinding sun. The birthplace of Colombian pop goddess Shakira, Barranquilla is actually most famous for its Carnaval, when the town clocks off, puts on its glad rags and goes wild as it throws the country's biggest street party.

While Barranquilla attracts big crowds for Mardi Gras, at any other time of the year there are very few visitors. If you do come, you'll find a city proud to be the home of costeño (people from the coast) culture, and one with plenty of excellent restaurants, lively bars and a smattering of decent museums.

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