Choco-Darien, Central America

The hot tropical rainforests along South America's northwestern Pacific coast to where it connects with Central America is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. WWF is working to keep it that way.

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Tropical moist forest. Awa Reserve, La Planada, Colombia.
© Pablo CORRAL / WWF-Canon

Choco+Darien=Biodiversity

Running along the entire Colombian Pacific coast, from southwest Panama to northwest Ecuador, the Choco-Darien region is made up of rainforests, mountains and coastal areas.

The Panamanian Darien part represents some of the richest forests of Central America, while the Colombian Choco has some of the highest numbers of endemic plants in South America.

Many unique species are also found here, including jaguars, ocelots, giant anteaters, tapirs and tamarins.

Humpback whales and marine turtles visit the coasts.

Protecting Latin America's rainforests

The major threat to these species and ecosystem is deforestation.

Road building and other development projects have seen about 1/3 of the area cleared or degraded.

WWF is working with local partners, including indigenous communities, throughout the Choco-Darien region on a number of sustainable development and conservation projects, which include supporting community-based forest management and the creation of protected areas.
 / ©: Martin HARVEY / WWF-Canon
Found only in northwestern Colombia, the cotton-top tamarin is one of the country's most endangered primates.
© Martin HARVEY / WWF-Canon

Shared waters

 / ©: Diego M. GARCES / WWF-Canon
Humpback whale. Bay of Málaga, Colombia.
© Diego M. GARCES / WWF-Canon
Colombia and Panama not only share the Choco-Darien rainforests but also their coastal waters.
Each year, from June to November, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) stop near the Colombian Pacific coast to mate, give birth and feed their calves. During this period, neighbouring coastal communities offer whale-watching activities to tourists - an alternative, sustainable source of revenue.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Robert de Jongh
Bahia Malaga, Colombia.
© WWF-Canon / Robert de Jongh
 / ©: WWF- Canon / Diego Miguel GARCÉS
Crab, Choco-Darien.
© WWF- Canon / Diego Miguel GARCÉS

Where is the Choco-Darien region?

The Choco-Darien region is highlighted in pink.


View WWF Critical Regions of the World in a larger map

Facts & Figures

    • The Choco-Darien region covers about 187,500km2; the most extensive parts are in Colombia.
    • The rainforests have the highest rainfall on Earth, with some zones receiving up to 16 metres per year.
    • There are more than 8,000 plant species; nearly 20% of them endemic.
    • There are at least 97 reptile species; 127 amphibian species; and close to 600 bird species.
    • Indigenous groups found here include Embera, Waunanas, Kunas, Awa-Kwaikeres and Chachis.

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