Meta River
The Meta River is formed in the Meta Department
Meta Department
Meta is a department of Colombia. It is close to the geographic center of the country, to the east of the Andean mountains. A large portion of the department, which is also crossed by the Meta River, is covered by a grassland plain known as the Llanos. Its capital is Villavicencio...

, Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 by the confluence of the Humea, Guatiquía and Guayuriba rivers. It flows east-northeastward across the Llanos Orientales
The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

 plains of Colombia through an ancient fault. The Meta forms the northern boundary of Vichada Department
Vichada Department
Vichada is a department of the Republic of Colombia in South America. Vichada is located in the eastern plains of Colombia, in the Orinoquia region within the Orinoco river basin bordering the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the north and east...

, first with Casanare Department
Casanare Department
Casanare is a department of Colombia. It is in the central eastern region of the country. Its capital is Yopal. It contains oil fields and an 800 km pipeline leading to the coastal port of Coveñas owned by BP.-Municipalities:# Aguazul# Chameza...

, then with Arauca Department
Arauca Department
Arauca is a department of Colombia located in the extreme north of the Orinoco part of Colombia , bordering Venezuela. It is bordered to the south by the Casanare River and the Meta River, which separate it from the departments of Casanare and Vichada. To the west borders with the Boyacá Department...

, and finally with Venezuela, down to Puerto Carreño where it flows into the Orinoco
The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes called the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3% of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia...


The Meta river is 804 kilometres (499.6 mi) long and its drainage basin is 93800 square kilometre. The Meta divides the Colombian llanos in two different realms: the western portion on the left is more humid, receives the relatively nutrient-rich sediments from the Andean mountain range
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 and therefore soils and tributaries are also nutrient-rich, while the eastern portion, high plain or altillanura, drains not to the Meta river but to the Orinoco, has a longer dry season and soils and surface waters are oligotroph
An oligotroph is an organism that can live in an environment that offers very low levels of nutrients. They may be contrasted with copiotrophs, which prefer nutritionally rich environments...

ic (nutrient poor).

The major tributaries of the Meta are the Cravo Sur, the Casanare, the Cusiana, the Upía
Upía River
Upía River is a river of Colombia. It is a tributary of the Meta River, part of the Orinoco River basin.-References:*Rand McNally, The New International Atlas, 1993....

 and the Manacacías.


Starting at Puerto López
Puerto López, Colombia
Puerto López is a small town and municipality in the Orinoquía Region in Colombia, specifically located in the Department of Meta, as a port on the Meta river. It is located approximately 100 kilometers east of Villavicencio. Its main industries are agriculture and cattle...

 the Meta becomes navigable, and thus is an important component of the trade across the Colombian and Venezuelan llanos
The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

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