Colombia

Colombia

Overview
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, bordered to the east by Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

; to the south by Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

; to the north by the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

; to the northwest by Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Colombia has maritime borders with Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 and Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. Colombia is the 26th largest country by area and the 27th largest by population, and the third largest in South America after Brazil and Argentina.
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Timeline

1538   Bogotá, Colombia, is founded by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada.

1539   Re-founding of the city of Bogotá, New Granada (now Colombia), by Nikolaus Federmann and Sebastián de Belalcázar.

1773   Cúcuta (Colombia) is founded by Juana Rangel de Cuéllar.

1821   The Republic of Gran Colombia (a federation covering much of present day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador) is established, with Simón Bolívar as the founding President and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president. thumb

1831   Ecuador and Venezuela are separated from Greater Colombia.

1851   Slavery is abolished in Colombia, South America.

1903   The Hay-Herran Treaty, granting the United States the right to build the Panama Canal, is ratified by the United States Senate. The Colombian Senate would later reject the treaty.

1903   With the encouragement of the United States, Panama separates from Colombia.

1909   Colombia recognizes the independence of Panama.

1935   Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Colombia are established.

 
Encyclopedia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, bordered to the east by Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

; to the south by Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

; to the north by the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

; to the northwest by Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Colombia has maritime borders with Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 and Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. Colombia is the 26th largest country by area and the 27th largest by population, and the third largest in South America after Brazil and Argentina. With over 46 million people, Colombia has the third largest population of any Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. It is also the only country in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 having coasts in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples in Colombia
The indigenous peoples in Colombia comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who inhabited the country's present territory prior to its discovery by Europeans around 1500.-Origins:...

 including the Muisca
Muisca
Muisca was the Chibcha-speaking tribe that formed the Muisca Confederation of the central highlands of present-day Colombia. They were encountered by the Spanish Empire in 1537, at the time of the conquest...

, Quimbaya
Quimbaya civilization
The Quimbaya civilization is a South American civilization, noted for spectacular gold work characterized by technical accuracy and detailed designs. The majority of the gold work is made in tumbaga alloy, with 30% copper, which imparts beautiful color tonalities to the pieces...

, and Tairona
Tairona
Tairona was a group of chiefdoms in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in present-day Cesar, Magdalena and La Guajira Departments of Colombia, South America, which goes back at least to the 1st century AD and had significant demographic growth around the 11th century.The Tairona people...

. The Spanish arrived in 1499 and initiated a period of conquest and colonization
Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations
Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations refers to the conquest by the Spanish monarchy of the Chibchan speaking nations, mainly the Muiscas and Taironas that inhabited present day Colombia, beginning the Spanish colonization of the Americas....

 ultimately creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 (comprising modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, north-western Brazil and Panama), with its capital at Bogotá
Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

. Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 "Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia is a name used today for the state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831. This short-lived republic included the territories of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru and northwest Brazil. The...

" had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. What is now Colombia and Panama emerged as the Republic of New Granada
Republic of New Granada
The Republic of New Granada was a centralist republic consisting primarily of present-day Colombia and Panama with smaller portions of today's Ecuador, and Venezuela. It was created after the dissolution in 1830 of Gran Colombia. It was later abolished in 1858 when the Granadine Confederation was...

. The new nation experimented with federalism as the Granadine Confederation
Granadine Confederation
The Granadine Confederation was a short-lived federal republic established in 1858 as a result of a constitutional change replacing the Republic of New Granada. It comprised the present day nations of Colombia and Panama...

 (1858), and then the United States of Colombia
United States of Colombia
The United States of Colombia was the name adopted in 1861 through the Rionegro Constitution for the nation which had been known as the Republic of New Granada since the dissolution of the federation of Gran Colombia in 1830-1831....

 (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. Panama seceded
Separation of Panama from Colombia
The Separation of Panama from Colombia was formalized on 3 November 1903 with the establishment of the Republic of Panama from the Republic of Colombia's Department of Panama.-Prelude:...

 in 1903.

Colombia was the first constitutional government
Constitutional history of Colombia
The Constitutional history of Colombia is the process of formation and evolution of the different constitutions that Colombia has had since its formation.-Pre-Columbian and Spanish times :...

 in South America, and the Liberal
Colombian Liberal Party
The Colombian Liberal Party is a center-left party in Colombia that adheres to social democracy and social liberalism.The Party was founded in 1848 and, together with the Colombian Conservative Party, subsequently became one of the two main political forces in the country for over a century.After...

 and Conservative
Colombian Conservative Party
The Colombian Conservative Party , is a conservative political party in Colombia. The party was unofficially founded by a group of Revolutionary Commoners during the Revolutionary War for Independence from the Spanish Monarchy and later formally established during the Greater Colombia...

 parties, founded in 1848 and 1849 respectively, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas. However, tensions between the two have frequently erupted into violence, most notably in the Thousand Days War
Thousand Days War
The Thousand Days' War , was a civil armed conflict in the newly created Republic of Colombia, between the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and its radical factions. In 1899 the ruling conservatives were accused of maintaining power through fraudulent elections...

 (1899–1902) and La Violencia
La Violencia
La Violencia is a period of civil conflict in the Colombian countryside between supporters of the Colombian Liberal Party and the Colombian Conservative Party, a conflict which took place roughly from 1948 to 1958 ....

, beginning in 1948. Since the 1960s, government forces
Military of Colombia
The Military Forces of Colombia are the armed forces of the Republic of Colombia.-Services:The Military of Colombia consists of:* National Army of Colombia * Colombian National Armada - Marines, Navy and Coast Guard attached* Colombian Air Force...

, left-wing insurgents
Guerrilla movements in Colombia
Guerrilla movements in Colombia refers to the origins, development and actions of guerrilla movements in the Republic of Colombia.-Spanish colonial control:...

 and right-wing paramilitaries
Paramilitarism in Colombia
Paramilitarism in Colombia refers to the origins and activities of far right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia during the 20th century.Right-wing paramilitary groups are the parties considered to be most responsible for human rights violations in Colombia during the later half of the current...

 have been engaged in the continent's longest-running armed conflict. Fuelled by the cocaine trade
Illegal drug trade in Colombia
Illegal drug trade in Colombia refers to the practice of producing and distributing illegal drugs with psychoactive effects in Colombia. Colombia has had four major drug trafficking cartels which eventually created a new social class and influenced several aspects of Colombian culture...

, this escalated dramatically in the 1980s. Since 2000 the violence has decreased significantly, with many paramilitary groups demobilising as part of a controversial peace process and the guerrillas losing control of much of the territory they once dominated. Meanwhile Colombia's homicide rate almost halved between 2002 and 2006. As of 2011 Colombia remains the world's largest producer of cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 alongside countries as Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 and Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, although production has been falling
Coca eradication
Coca eradication is a controversial strategy strongly promoted by the United States government starting in 1961 as part of its "War on Drugs" to eliminate the cultivation of coca, a plant whose leaves are not only traditionally used by indigenous cultures but also, in modern society, in the...

. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace
Institute for Economics and Peace
The Institute for Economics and Peace , chaired by entrepreneur Steve Killelea, is a global non-profit research organization headquartered in Sydney, Australia with a branch in New York...

 Colombia is the most violent nation in Latin America as of 2011.

Colombia is very ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans
Afro-Colombian
Afro Colombians refers to Colombians of African ancestry, and the great impact they have had on Colombian culture. Notable Afro-Colombians include Colombian scientists like Raul Cuero, writers like Manuel Zapata Olivella and politicians:...

 brought as slaves and twentieth-century immigrants from Europe
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

 and the Middle East
Arab diaspora in Colombia
The Arab diaspora in Colombia refers to the Arab immigrants and their offspring in the Republic of Colombia. Most of the Middle Easterners came from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine escaping from the repression of the Ottoman Empire and financial hardships...

 has produced a rich cultural heritage. This has also been influenced by Colombia's varied geography. The majority of the urban centres are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains
Andes
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...

, but Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

, tropical grassland
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....

 and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Ecologically, Colombia is one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries
Megadiverse countries
The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse...

, and is considered the most megadiverse per square kilometer.

Etymology


The word "Colombia" comes from Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 (Spanish: Cristóbal Colón). It was conceived by the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda
Francisco de Miranda
Sebastián Francisco de Miranda Ravelo y Rodríguez de Espinoza , commonly known as Francisco de Miranda , was a Venezuelan revolutionary...

 as a reference to all the New World
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, but especially to those under the Spanish and Portuguese rule. The name was later adopted by the Republic of Colombia of 1819, formed out of the territories of the old Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 (modern-day Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador).

In 1835, when Venezuela and Ecuador broke away, the Cundinamarca
Cundinamarca Province
Cundinamarca Province was one of the Provinces of the Republic of New Granada...

 region that remained became a new country – the Republic of New Granada
Republic of New Granada
The Republic of New Granada was a centralist republic consisting primarily of present-day Colombia and Panama with smaller portions of today's Ecuador, and Venezuela. It was created after the dissolution in 1830 of Gran Colombia. It was later abolished in 1858 when the Granadine Confederation was...

. In 1858 New Granada officially changed its name to the Granadine Confederation
Granadine Confederation
The Granadine Confederation was a short-lived federal republic established in 1858 as a result of a constitutional change replacing the Republic of New Granada. It comprised the present day nations of Colombia and Panama...

, then in 1863 the United States of Colombia
United States of Colombia
The United States of Colombia was the name adopted in 1861 through the Rionegro Constitution for the nation which had been known as the Republic of New Granada since the dissolution of the federation of Gran Colombia in 1830-1831....

, before finally adopting its present name – the Republic of Colombia – in 1886.

To allude to the country, the Colombian government uses the terms Colombia and República de Colombia.

History


Prehistory


Due to its geographical location the present territory of Colombia was a corridor of populations between Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

, the Caribbean, the Andes and the Amazon. The oldest archaeological finds were found at sites of Monsú and Pubenza and dating from about 20,000 years B. C. Other vestiges realize that there were also early occupation in regions like El Abra
El Abra
El Abra is an archaeological excavation site, located in the valley of the same name, east of the city of Zipaquirá, department Cundinamarca, Colombia; in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, at an altitude of 2,570 m...

 between Tocancipá
Tocancipá
Tocancipá is a municipality and town of Colombia in the department of Cundinamarca. The race track is located in the surroundings of the town, here they make vintage auto races as well as gt races....

, Zipaquirá
Zipaquirá
Zipaquirá is a municipality and city of Colombia in the department of Cundinamarca. Its neighboring municipalities are Tausa and Cogua to the north; Nemocón, Gachancipá and Sopó to the east; Cajicá and Tabio to the south; and Subachoque and Pacho to the west. Its seat of municipal government is 49...

 and Tequendama in Cundinamarca
Cundinamarca
-Geography :* Cundinamarca Department , Republic of Colombia* Free and Independent State of Cundinamarca...

. These sites correspond to the Paleoindian period. In Puerto Hormiga has been found traces of the archaic period, including the oldest pottery found in America, dating from about 3,000 BC.

Pre-Columbian


Approximately 10,000 BC, the territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous people
Indigenous peoples in Colombia
The indigenous peoples in Colombia comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who inhabited the country's present territory prior to its discovery by Europeans around 1500.-Origins:...

 including the Muisca
Muisca
Muisca was the Chibcha-speaking tribe that formed the Muisca Confederation of the central highlands of present-day Colombia. They were encountered by the Spanish Empire in 1537, at the time of the conquest...

, Quimbaya
Quimbaya civilization
The Quimbaya civilization is a South American civilization, noted for spectacular gold work characterized by technical accuracy and detailed designs. The majority of the gold work is made in tumbaga alloy, with 30% copper, which imparts beautiful color tonalities to the pieces...

, and Tairona
Tairona
Tairona was a group of chiefdoms in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in present-day Cesar, Magdalena and La Guajira Departments of Colombia, South America, which goes back at least to the 1st century AD and had significant demographic growth around the 11th century.The Tairona people...

. Hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 societies existed near present-day Bogotá (at "El Abra
El Abra
El Abra is an archaeological excavation site, located in the valley of the same name, east of the city of Zipaquirá, department Cundinamarca, Colombia; in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, at an altitude of 2,570 m...

" and "Tequendama") which traded with one another and with cultures living in the Magdalena River
Magdalena River
The Magdalena River is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as...

 Valley. Beginning in the first millennium BC, groups of Amerindians developed the political system of "cacicazgos" with a pyramidal structure of power headed by caciques
Cacique Nutibara Bloc
The Cacique Nutivara Bloc was a Colombian paramilitary bloc founded by Diego Murillo Bejarano, affiliated with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia paramilitary umbrella group....

. The Muiscas inhabited the area of what is now the Departments
Departments of Colombia
Colombia is an unitary republic formed by thirty-two departments and a Capital District . Each department has a Governor and a Department Assembly , elected by popular vote for a four-year period. The governor cannot be re-elected in consecutive periods...

 of Boyacá
Boyacá Department
Boyacá is one of the 32 Departments of Colombia, and the remnant of one of the original nine states of the "United States of Colombia".Boyacá is centrally located within Colombia, almost entirely within the mountains of the Eastern Cordillera to the border with Venezuela, although the western end...

 and Cundinamarca
Cundinamarca Department
- Origin of the name :The name of Cundinamarca comes from Kundur marqa, an indigenous expression, probably derived from Quechua. Meaning "Condor's Nest", it was used in pre-Columbian times by the natives of the Magdalena Valley to refer to the nearby highlands....

 high plateau mainly (Altiplano Cundiboyacense
Altiplano Cundiboyacense
The Altiplano Cundiboyacense is a set of highlands located on the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes between the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá. The altiplano corresponds to the ancient territory of the Muisca...

). They farmed maize, potato, quinoa and cotton, among others. Skilled in goldsmiths, bartered emeralds, blankets, ceramic handicrafts, coca and salt actively trading these with neighboring nations. The Taironas inhabited in northern Colombia in the Andes
Andes
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...

 isolated mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated mountain range apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 metres above sea level just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world's highest coastal range...

.

Spanish discovery (1499 - 1525)



Spanish explorers made the first exploration of the Caribbean littoral in 1499 led by Rodrigo de Bastidas
Rodrigo de Bastidas
Rodrigo de Bastidas was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who mapped the northern coast of South America and founded the city of Santa Marta.-Early life:...

. Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 navigated near the Caribbean in 1502. In 1508, Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.He traveled to the New World in...

 started the conquest of the territory through the region of Urabá. In 1513, he was the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean, which he called Mar del Sur (or "Sea of the South") and which in fact would bring the Spaniards to Peru and Chile.

Alonso de Lugo (who had sailed with Columbus) reached the Guajira Peninsula in 1500. Santa Marta was founded in 1525, and Cartagena in 1533. Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada led an expedition to the interior in 1535, and founded the "New City of Granada", the name soon changed to "Santa Fé." Two other notable journeys by Spaniards to the interior took place in the same period. Sebastian de Belalcazar, conqueror of Quito, traveled north and founded Cali in 1536 and Popayán in 1537; Nicolas Federman crossed the Llanos Orientales and went over the Eastern Cordillera.

The Caribbean people, whom the Spaniards conquered through warfare and alliances, while resulting disease such as smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, and the conquest and ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 itself caused a demographic reduction among the indigenous people. In the 16th century, Europeans
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

 began to bring slaves from Africa.

Colonial times (1525 - 1808)


The Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 settled along the north coast of today's Colombia as early as the 1500s, but their first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, was not established until 1525. In 1549, the institution of the Audiencia in Santa Fe de Bogotá
Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

 gave that city the status of capital of New Granada
New Kingdom of Granada
The New Kingdom of Granada was the name given to a group of 16th century Spanish colonial provinces in northern South America governed by the president of the Audiencia of Bogotá, an area corresponding mainly to modern day Colombia and parts of Venezuela. Originally part of the Viceroyalty of...

, which comprised in large part what is now territory of Colombia.

With the risk that the land was deserted, the Spanish Crown sold properties to the gobernors, conquerors and their descendants creating large farms and possession of mines. Black slaves were introduced as labor. Also to protect the indigenous population decimated, and Indian reservations were created. The repopulation was achieved by allowing colonization by farmers and their families who came from Spain. With this began the colonial period. New Granada was ruled by the Royal Audience of Santa Fe de Bogota, but important decisions were taken to the colony from Spain by the Council of the Indies.

A royal decree of 1713 approved the legality of Palenque de San Basilio founded by runaway slaves from the fifteenth century, slaves had fled and sought refuge in the jungles of the Caribbean coast. The Spanish forces could not tolerate them and ended up submitting, thereby giving rise to the first free place in the Americas. It was their principal leader Benkos Biohó
Benkos Bioho
Benkos Biohó was said to have been born in the region of Bioho, Guinea Bissau, West Africa where he was seized by the Portuguese Pedro Gomez Reynel, the dealer, sold to businessman Juan Palacios and resold as a slave to the Spaniard Alonso del Campo in 1596, in Cartagena de Indias...

, born in the region Bioho, Guinea Bissau, West Africa. Palenque de San Basilio was declared in 2005 as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

.

In 1717 the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 was originally created, and then it was temporarily removed, to finally be reestablished in 1739. The Viceroyalty had Santa Fé de Bogotá as its capital. This Viceroyalty included some other provinces of northwestern South America which had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalties of New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 or Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 and correspond mainly to today's Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

. So, Bogotá became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World, along with Lima and Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, though it remained somewhat backward compared to those two cities in several economic and logistical ways.

During the eighteenth century noted the figure of the priest, botanist and mathematician José Celestino Mutis
José Celestino Mutis
-External links:*** at The Catholic Encyclopedia official site...

 (1732–1808), delegated by the viceroy Antonio Caballero y Góngora
Antonio Caballero y Góngora
Antonio Caballero y Góngora was a Spanish Roman Catholic prelate and, from 1782 to 1789, viceroy of New Granada....

 to conduct an inventory of the nature of the New Granada, which became known as the Botanical Expedition
Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada
The Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada took place between 1783 and 1816 in the territories of New Granada, covering present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and northern Brazil and western Guyana....

 which classified plants, wildlife and founded the first astronomical observatory in the city of Santa Fe de Bogota. On August 15, 1801 the Prussian scientist Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt...

 reaches Fontibón
Fontibon
Fontibon is a former municipality located at the westernmost side of Bogotá, Colombia.-History:Founded on May 10, 1954; Fontibon was the gate to the current Bogotá City also known as Santa Fe de Bogotá, to the conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada and his fellow expeditioners.The origin of the...

 where he joins Mutis in New Granada expedition to Quito.

Independence from Spain (1808 - 1824)



Since the beginning of the periods of conquest and colonization, there were several rebel movements under Spanish rule, most of them were either crushed or remained too weak to change the overall situation. The last one which sought outright independence from Spain sprang up around 1810, following the independence of St. Domingue (present-day Haiti) in 1804, which provided a non-negligible degree of support to the eventual leaders of this rebellion: Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 and Francisco de Paula Santander
Francisco de Paula Santander
Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña , was a Colombian military and political leader during the 1810–1819 independence war of the United Provinces of New Granada...

.

A movement initiated by Antonio Nariño
Antonio Nariño
Antonio de la Santísima Concepción Nariño y Álvarez was an ideological Colombian precursor and one of the early political and military leaders of the independence movement in the New Granada - Early political activity :Nariño was born to an aristocratic family...

, who opposed Spanish centralism and led the opposition against the viceroyalty, led to the independence of Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

 in November 1811, and the formation of two independent governments which fought a civil war – a period known as La Patria Boba. The following year Nariño proclaimed the United Provinces of New Granada
United Provinces of New Granada
The United Provinces of New Granada was a country in South America from 1811 to 1816, a period known in Colombian history as the Patria Boba. It was formed from areas of the New Kingdom of Granada. The government was a federation with a parliamentary system, consisting of a weak executive and...

, headed by Camilo Torres Tenorio. Despite the successes of the rebellion, the emergence of two distinct ideological currents among the liberators (federalism and centralism) gave rise to an internal clash which contributed to the reconquest of territory by the Spanish. The viceroyalty was restored under the command of Juan de Samano, whose regime punished those who participated in the uprisings. The retribution stoked renewed rebellion, which, combined with a weakened Spain, made possible a successful rebellion led by the Venezuelan-born Simón Bolívar, who finally proclaimed independence in 1819. The pro-Spanish resistance was finally defeated in 1822 in the present territory of Colombia and in 1823 in Venezuela.
The territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 became the Republic of Colombia
Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia is a name used today for the state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831. This short-lived republic included the territories of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru and northwest Brazil. The...

 organized as a union of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela (Panama was then an integral part of Colombia). The Congress of Cucuta in 1821 adopted a constitution for the new Republic. Simón Bolívar became the first President of Colombia
President of Colombia
The President of Colombia is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of Colombia. The office of president was established upon the ratification of the Constitution of 1819, by the Congress of Angostura, convened in December 1819, when Colombia was part of "la Gran Colombia"...

, and Francisco de Paula Santander was made Vice President
Vice President of Colombia
The Vice President of Colombia is the first in the presidential line of succession, becoming the new President of Colombia upon leaves of absence or death, resignation, or removal of the President, as designated by the Colombian Constitution of 1991 which also reinstated the vice president figure...

. However, the new republic was very unstable and ended with the rupture of Venezuela in 1829, followed by Ecuador in 1830.

Post-independence and republicanism (1824 - 1930)


Colombia was the first constitutional government in South America, and the Liberal and Conservative parties, founded in 1848 and 1849 respectively, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas.

Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. The so-called "Department of Cundinamarca
Cundinamarca Department (1824)
Cundinamarca Department was one the departments of Gran Colombia. It was part of the Centro District.- Provinces :* Bogotá Province. Capital: Bogotá. Cantones: Bogotá, Funza, Guaduas, Mesa, Tocaima, Ubaté y Zipaquirá....

" adopted the name "Nueva Granada", which it kept until 1856 when it became the "Confederación Granadina" (Granadine Confederation
Granadine Confederation
The Granadine Confederation was a short-lived federal republic established in 1858 as a result of a constitutional change replacing the Republic of New Granada. It comprised the present day nations of Colombia and Panama...

). After a two-year civil war
Colombian Civil War (1860–1862)
The Colombian Civil War of May 8 1860 to November 1862 was an internal conflict between the newly formed conservative Grenadine Confederation and a more liberal rebel force from the newly seceded region of Cauca, composed of dissatisfied politicians commanded by General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera,...

 in 1863, the "United States of Colombia
United States of Colombia
The United States of Colombia was the name adopted in 1861 through the Rionegro Constitution for the nation which had been known as the Republic of New Granada since the dissolution of the federation of Gran Colombia in 1830-1831....

" was created, lasting until 1886, when the country finally became known as the Republic of Colombia. Internal divisions remained between the bipartisan political forces, occasionally igniting very bloody civil wars, the most significant being the Thousand Days' War (1899–1902).

This, together with the United States of America's intentions to influence the area (especially the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 construction and control) led to the separation of the Department of Panama in 1903 and the establishment of it as a nation. The United States paid Colombia $25,000,000 in 1921, seven years after completion of the canal, for redress of President Roosevelt's role in the creation of Panama, and Colombia recognized Panama under the terms of the Thomson-Urrutia Treaty
Thomson-Urrutia Treaty
The Thomson-Urrutia Treaty was signed on April 20, 1921 between the United States and Colombia. Based on the terms of the agreement, the U.S. paid Colombia 25 million dollars in return for Colombia's recognition of Panama's independence.-External links:***...

.
Colombia was engulfed in the Year-Long War with Peru over a territorial dispute involving the Amazonas Department
Amazonas Department
Amazonas is a department of Colombia in the south of the country. Its capital is Leticia. Its name comes from the Amazon River that drains much in the department and the rainforest that covers a large part of the department....

 and its capital Leticia.

The Violence and the National Front (1930 - 1974)


Soon after, Colombia achieved a relative degree of political stability, which was interrupted by a bloody conflict that took place between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, a period known as La Violencia de los Putos ("The Violence of the bastards"). Its cause was mainly mounting tensions between the two leading political parties, which subsequently ignited after the assassination of the Liberal
Colombian Liberal Party
The Colombian Liberal Party is a center-left party in Colombia that adheres to social democracy and social liberalism.The Party was founded in 1848 and, together with the Colombian Conservative Party, subsequently became one of the two main political forces in the country for over a century.After...

 presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán
Jorge Eliécer Gaitán
Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala was a politician, a leader of a populist movement in Colombia, a former Education Minister and Labor Minister , mayor of Bogotá and one of the most charismatic leaders of the Liberal Party.He was assassinated during his second presidential campaign in 1948, setting off...

 on 9 April 1948. This ensuing riots in Bogotá, known as El Bogotazo, spread throughout the country and claimed the lives of at least 180,000 Colombians .

From 1953 to 1964 the violence between the two political parties decreased first when Gustavo Rojas
Gustavo Rojas Pinilla
Gustavo Rojas Pinilla was a Colombian politician, military officer, General of the Army and President of Colombia between 1953 and 1957.- Biographic data :...

 deposed the President of Colombia in a coup d'état and negotiated with the Guerrillas, and then under the military junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

 of General Gabriel París Gordillo
Gabriel París Gordillo
Gabriel París Gordillo was President of Colombia from May 1957 to August 1958 as Chairman of the Colombian Military Junta Government following the 1957 Coup d'état.- Biographic data :...

.

After Rojas' deposition the Colombian Conservative Party
Colombian Conservative Party
The Colombian Conservative Party , is a conservative political party in Colombia. The party was unofficially founded by a group of Revolutionary Commoners during the Revolutionary War for Independence from the Spanish Monarchy and later formally established during the Greater Colombia...

 and Colombian Liberal Party agreed to the create the "National Front", a coalition which would jointly govern the country. Under the deal, the presidency would alternate between conservatives and liberals every 4 years for 16 years; the two parties would have parity in all other elective offices. The National Front ended "La Violencia", and National Front administrations attempted to institute far-reaching social and economic reforms in cooperation with the Alliance for Progress. In the end, the contradictions between each successive Liberal and Conservative administration made the results decidedly mixed. Despite the progress in certain sectors, many social and political problems continued, and guerrilla groups were formally created such as the FARC, ELN
National Liberation Army (Colombia)
National Liberation Army is a revolutionary, avowed Marxist guerrilla group that has been operating in several regions of Colombia since 1964....

 and M-19
19th of April Movement
The 19th of April Movement or M-19, was a Colombian guerrilla movement. After its demobilization it became a political party, the M-19 Democratic Alliance , or AD/M-19.The M-19 traced its origins to the allegedly fraudulent presidential elections of 19 April 1970...

 to fight the government and political apparatus.

The Medellín and Cali cartels


Emerging in the late 1970s, powerful and violent drug cartel
Drug cartel
Drug cartels are criminal organizations developed with the primary purpose of promoting and controlling drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking...

s further developed during the 1980s and 1990s. The Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar
Pablo Escobar
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian drug lord. He was an elusive cocaine trafficker and rich and successful criminal. He owned numerous luxury residences, automobiles, and even airplanes...

 and the Cali Cartel
Cali Cartel
The Cali Cartel was a drug cartel based in southern Colombia, around the city of Cali and the Valle del Cauca Department. The Cali Cartel was founded by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, as well as associate José Santacruz Londoño...

, in particular, exerted political, economic and social influence in Colombia during this period. These cartels also financed and influenced different illegal armed groups throughout the political spectrum. Some enemies of these allied with the guerrillas and created or influenced paramilitary groups
Paramilitarism in Colombia
Paramilitarism in Colombia refers to the origins and activities of far right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia during the 20th century.Right-wing paramilitary groups are the parties considered to be most responsible for human rights violations in Colombia during the later half of the current...

.


Constitution of 1991


The new Colombian Constitution of 1991
Colombian Constitution of 1991
The Political Constitution of Colombia, better known as the Constitution of 1991, is the current governing document of the Republic of Colombia. Promulgated on July 4 of 1991 , it replaced the Constitution of 1886...

, ratified after being drafted by the Constituent Assembly of Colombia
Constituent Assembly of Colombia
The Constituent Assembly of Colombia was formed on February 5, 1991, to draft Colombia's 1991 constitution. It was dissolved in June 1991, after the new document was adopted nationwide.-Background:...

, included key provisions on political, ethnic, human and gender rights. The new constitution initially prohibited the extradition of Colombian nationals, causing accusations that drug cartels had successfully lobbied for the provision; extradition resumed in 1996 after the provision was repealed. The cartels had previously promoted a violent campaign against extradition, leading to many terrorist attacks and mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

-style executions. They also tried to influence the government and political structure of Colombia through corruption, as in the case of the 8000 Process scandal.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution of 1991 and the reforms made, the country has continued to be plagued by the effects of the drug trade, guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 insurgencies
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 like FARC, and paramilitary groups such as the AUC
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia was created as an umbrella organization of regional far-right...

, which along with other minor factions have engaged in a bloody internal armed conflict
Colombian Armed Conflict
The Colombian armed conflict or Colombian Civil War are terms that are employed to refer to the current asymmetric low-intensity armed conflict in Colombia that has existed since approximately 1964 or 1966, between the Colombian government and peasant guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed...

. President Andrés Pastrana and the FARC attempted to negotiate a solution to the conflict between 1999 and 2002. The government set up a "demilitarized" zone, but repeated tensions and crises led the Pastrana administration to conclude that the negotiations were ineffectual. Pastrana also began to implement the Plan Colombia
Plan Colombia
The term Plan Colombia is most often used to refer to U.S. legislation aimed at curbing drug smuggling and combating a left-wing insurgency by supporting different activities in Colombia....

 initiative, with the dual goal of ending the armed conflict and promoting a strong anti-narcotic
Narcotic
The term narcotic originally referred medically to any psychoactive compound with any sleep-inducing properties. In the United States of America it has since become associated with opioids, commonly morphine and heroin and their derivatives, such as hydrocodone. The term is, today, imprecisely...

 strategy .

Colombian armed conflict, 2002 - present


During the presidency of Álvaro Uribe
Álvaro Uribe
Alvaro Uribe Vélez was the 58th President of Colombia, from 2002 to 2010. In August 2010 he was appointed Vice-chairman of the UN panel investigating the Gaza flotilla raid....

, the government applied more military pressure on the FARC and other outlawed groups. After the offensive, supported by aid from the United States, many security indicators improved. Reported kidnappings
Kidnappings in Colombia
Kidnappings in Colombia refers to the practice of kidnapping in the Republic of Colombia. This criminal practice was first introduced in modern Colombian history during the early 1970s by the guerrilla movements and, later, also by criminal groups...

 showed a steep decrease (from 3,700 in 2000 to 172 in 2009 (Jan.-Oct.)) as did intentional homicides (from 28,837 in 2002 to 15,817 in 2009, according to police, while the health system reported a decline from 28,534 to 17,717 during the same period). The rate of abductions declined steadily for almost a decade until 2010, when 280 cases were reported between January and October, most concentrated in the Medellín
Medellín
Medellín , officially the Municipio de Medellín or Municipality of Medellín, is the second largest city in Colombia. It is in the Aburrá Valley, one of the more northerly of the Andes in South America. It has a population of 2.3 million...

 area. While rural areas and jungles remained dangerous, the overall reduction of violence led to the growth of internal travel and tourism.

According to official statistics from the Colombian Army
Colombian Army
The National Army of Colombia is the land military force of the government of Colombia and the largest service of the Colombian Armed Forces...

 FARC-EP had a total of 18,000 members as of December 2010, with 9,000 of them being regular guerrillas and the rest armed militia members operating in civilian clothing in cities and villages. Independent researchers speaking to Time Magazine claimed that the FARC-EP have 30,000 such militia members in 2011, indicating a shift in rebel strategy. ELN are estimated to have between 2900 and 5000 members as of 2010.

On 26 March 2008, Manuel Marulanda Vélez, the founder and leader of FARC, died of a heart attack and Cano succeeded him as commander-in-chief. During the same month two other members of the Secretariat, Raul Reyes and Ivan Rios were killed in action. In July 2008, the Colombian Army rescued fifteen of FARC's highest profile hostages, including Íngrid Betancourt in Operation Jaque, further weakening the rebels' position.

Cano was shot and killed by army forces on 4 November 2011 in the southwestern Cauca Department in what the Colombian government dubbed "Operation Odyssey." President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed his death on television, claiming the Colombian army dealt the FARC "the biggest blow in the history" of the guerrilla organisation. The FARC leader's death came months after he fled his stronghold in the south of Tolima, being pursued by armed forces since.

Inequity problems


Colombia has the fourth largest economy in Latin America, but income and wealth are unevenly distributed. In 1990, the income ratio between the richest and poorest 10% was 40-to-one, climbing to 80-to-one in 2000. In 2009, Colombia had a Gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 of 0.587, one of the highest in Latin America, with 46% of Colombians living below the poverty line and 17% in "extreme poverty".

Taking better roads


Despite the grim history of corruption, war, drug cartels, guerrillas - the complete set of ills afflicting modern societies such as Mexico - Colombia has taken some steps that put them back on the international scene. They are modest progress in the struggle to defend human rights, as expressed by HRW. In terms of international relations has moved from a period of tense animosity with Venezuela
2010 Colombia–Venezuela diplomatic crisis
The 2010 Colombia–Venezuela diplomatic crisis was a diplomatic stand-off between Colombia and Venezuela over allegations in July by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe that the Venezuelan government was actively permitting the FARC and ELN guerrillas to seek safe haven in its territory...

, towards a prosperous outlook to further enhance integration. Colombia has also won a seat on the Security Council of the UN.

The world's second biggest bank HSBC
HSBC
HSBC Holdings plc is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. it is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine...

 has created a perspective on the economic outlook in 2050 where Colombia is seen playing a decisive role in the global economy, especially in the Americas as the number 25 in the world economies measured by GDP . This group has been called CIVETS
CIVETS
The CIVETS is an acronym for favored emerging markets coined in late 2009 by Robert Ward, Global Forecasting Director for the Economist Intelligence Unit . The term has also been used by HSBC's chief executive Michael Geoghegan...

. Today Colombia is the fourth largest oil producer in South America and it is estimated that by 2012, Colombia will be producing a million barrels a day.

Geography



The geography of Colombia is characterized by containing five main natural region
Natural region
A Natural region is one which is distinguished by its natural features of geography and usually more important, geology. The natural ecology of the region is likely to be significant but one of these factors tends to influence the others....

s that present their own unique characteristics, from the Andes mountain range
Andes
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...

 region shared with Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

; the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 coastal
Pacific Coast
A country's Pacific coast is the part of its coast bordering the Pacific Ocean.-The Americas:Countries on the western side of the Americas have a Pacific coast as their western border.* Geography of Canada* Geography of Chile* Geography of Colombia...

 region shared with Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 and Ecuador; the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 coastal region shared with Venezuela and Panama; the Llanos
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....

(plains) shared with Venezuela; to the Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 region shared with Venezuela, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 and Ecuador. Colombia is the only South American country which borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

; to the south by Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

; to the north by Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 and the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

; and to the west by Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean. Including its Caribbean islands, it lies between latitudes 14°N
14th parallel north
The 14th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 14 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 5°S
5th parallel south
The 5th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 5 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

, and longitudes 66°
66th meridian west
The meridian 66° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, South America, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 82°W
82nd meridian west
The meridian 82° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....



Part of the Ring of Fire
Pacific Ring of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements...

, a region of the world subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

, Colombia is dominated by the Andes
Andes
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...

 mountains (which contain the majority of the country's urban centres). Beyond the Colombian Massif
Colombian Massif
The Colombian Massif also known colloquially as Nudo de Almaguer refers to a group of mountains within the Andes of south central Colombia. The massif is mainly within the area of the Cauca, Huila, and Nariño Departments...

 (in the south-western departments of Cauca
Cauca Department
Cauca is a Department of Colombia. Located in the south-western part of the country, facing the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Valle del Cauca Department to the north, Tolima Department to the northeast, Huila Department to the east and the Nariño Department to the south, covering a total area of...

 and Nariño
Nariño Department
Nariño is a department of Colombia named after Antonio Nariño. It is in the west of the country, bordering Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean.Its capital is Pasto, other important cities include Tumaco, Ipiales.-Municipalities:# Albán# Aldana# Ancuya...

) these are divided into three branches known as cordilleras (mountain ranges): the Cordillera Occidental, running adjacent to the Pacific coast and including the city of Cali
Santiago de Cali
Santiago de Cali , simply referred to as Cali, is a city in western Colombia and the capital of the Valle del Cauca Department. With a population of 2.5 million, Cali is the third largest city in the country. It has one of the fastest growing economies and infrastructure in the country because...

; the Cordillera Central, running between the Cauca
Cauca River
The Cauca River is a river in Colombia that lies between the Occidental and Central cordilleras. Born in southwestern Colombia near the city of Popayán, it joins the Magdalena River near Pinillos in Bolívar Department, and the combined river eventually flows out into the Caribbean Sea. It has a...

 and Magdalena
Magdalena River
The Magdalena River is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as...

 river valleys (to the west and east respectively) and including the cities of Medellín
Medellín
Medellín , officially the Municipio de Medellín or Municipality of Medellín, is the second largest city in Colombia. It is in the Aburrá Valley, one of the more northerly of the Andes in South America. It has a population of 2.3 million...

, Manizales
Manizales
Manizales is a city and municipality in central Colombia, capital of Department of Caldas and part of the region of Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis, near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano....

, Pereira
Pereira, Colombia
Pereira is the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda. It stands in the center of the western region of the country, located in a small valley that descends from a part of the western Andes mountain chain. Its strategic location in the coffee producing area makes the city an urban...

 and Armenia; and the Cordillera Oriental, extending north east to the Guajira Peninsula
Guajira Peninsula
Guajira Peninsula , is a peninsula in northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea...

 and including Bogotá, Bucaramanga
Bucaramanga
Bucaramanga is a Colombian city, and capital city of the department of Santander, Colombia. Bucaramanga has the fifth largest city economy and sixth largest population in Colombia, with 1,212,656 people in its metropolitan area...

 and Cúcuta
Cúcuta
Cúcuta is a Colombian city, capital of Norte de Santander, in the northeast of the country. Due to its proximity to the Colombian-Venezuelan border, Cúcuta is an important commercial center. The city has the constitutional category of Special District. It is located at the most active...

. Peaks in the Cordillera Occidental exceed 13000 ft (3,962 m), and in the Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental they reach 18000 ft (5,486 m). At 8500 ft (2,591 m), Bogotá is the highest city of its size in the world.

East of the Andes lies the savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

 of the Llanos
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....

, part of the Orinoco River basin
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...

, and, in the far south east, the jungle
Jungle
A Jungle is an area of land in the tropics overgrown with dense vegetation.The word jungle originates from the Sanskrit word jangala which referred to uncultivated land. Although the Sanskrit word refers to "dry land", it has been suggested that an Anglo-Indian interpretation led to its...

 of the Amazon rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

. Together these lowlands comprise over half Colombia's territory, but they contain less than 3% of the population. To the north the Caribbean coast, home to 20% of the population and the location of the major port cities of Barranquilla
Barranquilla
Barranquilla is an industrial port city and municipality located in northern Colombia, near the Caribbean Sea. The capital of the Atlántico Department, it is the largest industrial city and port in the Colombian Caribbean region with a population of 1,148,506 as of 2005, which makes it Colombia's...

 and Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

, generally consists of low-lying plains, but it also contains the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated mountain range apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 metres above sea level just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world's highest coastal range...

 mountain range, which includes the country's tallest peaks (Pico Cristóbal Colón
Pico Cristóbal Colón
Pico Cristóbal Colón is the highest mountain in Colombia and the fifth most prominent in the world . The nearest peak that is higher is Cayambe, some away. There is a permanent snowcap on this peak and on the nearby mountains. It is part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range, along with Pico...

 and Pico Simón Bolívar), and the Guajira Desert
La Guajira Desert
La Guajira Desert is located in the northernmost part of Colombia, north of Bogota, in the La Guajira Department, covering most of La Guajira Peninsula including Venezuelan territory. The area holds immense coal reserves, exploited in a zone known as El Cerrejon...

. By contrast the narrow and discontinuous Pacific coastal lowlands
Pacific Region of Colombia
The Pacific Region is one of the five major natural regions of the Colombian geography. The Pacific region covers the area near the Pacific Ocean in Colombia that contains certain endemic species and ecosystems accompanied by Colombian cultural influence....

, backed by the Serranía de Baudó
Baudó Mountains
The Baudó Mountains are a coastal mountain range on the Pacific coast of Colombia. They are separated from the Cordillera Occidental by the Atrato valley where the Atrato River flows and Quibdó is located. From the south the range extends from the Baudó River north and slightly west along the...

 mountains, are sparsely populated and covered in dense vegetation. The principal Pacific port is Buenaventura
Buenaventura, Colombia
Buenaventura is a port city and municipality located in the department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia . Buenaventura is the main port of Colombia in the Pacific Ocean....

.

Colombian territory also includes a number of Caribbean and Pacific islands
Insular Region (Colombia)
The Insular Region is considered by some as a geopolitical region of Colombia which comprises the areas outside the continental territories of Colombia and includes the San Andrés y Providencia Department in the Caribbean sea and the Malpelo and Gorgona Islands in the Pacific Ocean...

. This is considered by some as a sixth region, comprising those areas outside continental Colombia, including the department of San Andrés y Providencia in the Caribbean Sea and the islands of Malpelo
Malpelo Island
Malpelo Island is an island located from Colombia's Pacific coast, and approximately from Panama's coast. It has a land area of . It is uninhabited except for a small military post manned by the Colombian Army, which was established in 1986. Visitors need a written permit from the Colombian...

 and Gorgona
Gorgona, Colombia
Gorgona is a Colombian island in the Pacific Ocean situated about 50 km off the Colombian Pacific coast and part of the municipality of Guapi in the Department of Cauca. The island is about 9 km long and 2.5 km wide, with a maximum height of 338 m ; with an area of 10 square miles...

 in the Pacific Ocean. However, cultural ties are with the respective coastlines. In this region Colombia has a lot of stable sand banks of considerable size, considered suitable for the development of artificial island
Artificial island
An artificial island or man-made island is an island or archipelago that has been constructed by people rather than formed by natural means...

s.

Climate


The striking variety in temperature and precipitation results principally from differences in elevation. Temperatures range from very hot at sea level to relatively cold at higher elevations but vary little with the season. At Bogotá, for example, the average annual temperature is 15 °C (59 °F), and the difference between the average of the coldest and the warmest months is less than 1°C (1.8 °F). More significant, however, is the daily variation in temperature, from 5 °C (41 °F) at night to 17 °C (62.6 °F) during the day.

Colombians customarily describe their country in terms of the climatic zones: the area under 900 metres (2,953 ft) in elevation is called the hot zone (tierra caliente), elevations between 900 and 1980 m (2,952.8 and 6,496.1 ft) are the temperate zone (tierra templada), and elevations from 1980 metres (6,496 ft) to about 3500 metres (11,483 ft) constitute the cold zone (tierra fría). The upper limit of the cold zone marks the tree line and the approximate limit of human habitation. The treeless regions adjacent to the cold zone and extending to approximately 4500 metres (14,764 ft) are high, bleak areas (usually referred to as the páramos), above which begins the area of permanent snow (nevado).
About 86% of the country's total area lies in the hot zone. Included in the hot zone and interrupting the temperate area of the Andean highlands are the long and narrow extension of the Magdalena Valley and a small extension in the Cauca Valley. Temperatures, depending on elevation, vary between 24 and 38 °C (75.2 and 100.4 °F), and there are alternating dry and wet seasons corresponding to summer and winter, respectively. Breezes on the Caribbean coast, however, reduce both heat and precipitation.

The cold or cool zone constitutes about 6% of the total area, including some of the most densely populated plateaus and terraces of the Colombian Andes; this zone supports about onefourth of the country's total population. The mean temperature ranges between 10 and 19 °C (50 and 66.2 °F), and the wet seasons occur in April and May and from September to December, as in the high elevations of the temperate zone..

Hydrology


The hydrography of Colombia is one of the richest in the world. Its main rivers are Magdalena
Magdalena River
The Magdalena River is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as...

, Cauca
Cauca River
The Cauca River is a river in Colombia that lies between the Occidental and Central cordilleras. Born in southwestern Colombia near the city of Popayán, it joins the Magdalena River near Pinillos in Bolívar Department, and the combined river eventually flows out into the Caribbean Sea. It has a...

, Guaviare, and Caquetá. Colombia has four main drainage systems: the Pacific drain, the Caribbean drain, the Orinoco Basin and the Amazon Basin. The Orinoco
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...

 and Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 Rivers mark limits with Colombia to Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 respectively.

These are the main rivers confined to Colombia: Atrato
Atrato River
The Río Atrato is a river of northwestern Colombia. It rises in the slopes of the Western Cordillera and flows almost due north to the Gulf of Urabá , where it forms a large, swampy delta....

, Cauca
Cauca River
The Cauca River is a river in Colombia that lies between the Occidental and Central cordilleras. Born in southwestern Colombia near the city of Popayán, it joins the Magdalena River near Pinillos in Bolívar Department, and the combined river eventually flows out into the Caribbean Sea. It has a...

, Magdalena
Magdalena River
The Magdalena River is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as...

, Sinú, Baudó
Baudo
-animal species:*Baudó Oropendola, bird species*Baudo Guan, bird species...

,, San Juan
San Juan River (Colombia)
San Juan River is an important river of Colombia. It quoted source is in the Cordillera Occidental and has a length of 380 km...

, Meta
Meta River
The Meta River is formed in the Meta Department, Colombia by the confluence of the Humea, Guatiquía and Guayuriba rivers. It flows east-northeastward across the Llanos Orientales plains of Colombia through an ancient fault...

, Vichada
Vichada River
The Vichada River is a blackwater river in the country of Colombia, South America. It flows into the Orinoco River.The westward course of the Vichada is offset by an impact structure, called the Vichada Structure. The structure is most likely the largest impact structure in South America....

. Colombia it's an important source of water, in its land born some several main rivers: Catatumbo, Arauca
Arauca River
The Arauca River rises in the Andes Mountains of north-central Colombia and ends at the Orinoco in Venezuela. For part of its run it is the boundary between Colombia and Venezuela...

, Caquetá, Guainía, Putumayo River
Putumayo River
The Içá or Putumayo River is one of the tributaries of the Amazon River, west of and parallel to the Yapura. It forms part of Colombia's border with Ecuador, as well as most of the frontier with Peru...

 and Vaupés
Vaupés River
Vaupés River is a tributary of the Rio Negro in South America. It arises in the Guaviare Department of Colombia, flowing east through Guaviare and Vaupés Departments. It forms part of the international border between Colombia and the Amazonas state of Brazil. On the border it merges with the...

.

Environmental issues



The environmental challenges faced by Colombia are caused by both natural and human factors. Many natural hazards result from the geological instability related to Colombia's position along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Colombia has 15 major volcanoes, the eruptions of which have on occasion resulted in substantial loss of life, such as at Armero in 1985. Geological faults that have caused numerous devastating earthquakes, such as the 1999 Armenia earthquake
1999 Armenia, Colombia earthquake
The 1999 Coffee Axis, Colombia earthquake was an earthquake that heavily affected the city of Armenia, Colombia in the Quindío department, 18 towns and 28 villages in the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis region departments, and to a lesser degree, the cities of Pereira and Manizales.The earthquake...

. Heavy floods both in mountainous areas and in low-lying watersheds and coastal regions regularly cause deaths and considerable damage to property during the rainy seasons. Rainfall intensities vary with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...

 which occurs in unpredictable cycles, at times causing especially severe flooding.

Human induced deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 has started to creep into the rainforests of Amazonia and the Pacific coast and has substantially changed the Andean landscape. Deforestation is also linked to the conversion of lowland tropical forests to oil palm
Oil palm
The oil palms comprise two species of the Arecaceae, or palm family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis is native to West Africa, occurring between Angola and Gambia, while the American Oil Palm Elaeis oleifera is native to...

 plantations. However, compared to neighbouring countries rates of deforestation in Colombia are still relatively low. In urban areas, contamination of the local environment has been caused by human produced waste, and the use of fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

s. Participants in the country's armed conflict have also contributed to the pollution of the environment. Illegal armed groups have deforested large areas of land to plant illegal crops, with an estimated 99,000 hectares used for the cultivation of coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

 in 2007, while in response the government has fumigated these crops
Coca eradication
Coca eradication is a controversial strategy strongly promoted by the United States government starting in 1961 as part of its "War on Drugs" to eliminate the cultivation of coca, a plant whose leaves are not only traditionally used by indigenous cultures but also, in modern society, in the...

 using hazardous chemicals. Insurgents have also destroyed oil pipelines creating major ecological disasters. Demand from rapidly expanding cities has placed increasing stress on the water supply as watersheds are affected and ground water tables fall. Nonetheless, Colombia is the fourth country in the world by magnitude of total freshwater supply, and still has large reserves of freshwater.

Government



The government of Colombia takes place within the framework of a presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 republic as established in the Constitution of 1991
Colombian Constitution of 1991
The Political Constitution of Colombia, better known as the Constitution of 1991, is the current governing document of the Republic of Colombia. Promulgated on July 4 of 1991 , it replaced the Constitution of 1886...

. In accordance with the principle of separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

, government is divided into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch.
As the head of the executive branch, the President of Colombia
President of Colombia
The President of Colombia is the head of state and head of government of the Republic of Colombia. The office of president was established upon the ratification of the Constitution of 1819, by the Congress of Angostura, convened in December 1819, when Colombia was part of "la Gran Colombia"...

 serves as both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, followed by the Vice President
Vice President of Colombia
The Vice President of Colombia is the first in the presidential line of succession, becoming the new President of Colombia upon leaves of absence or death, resignation, or removal of the President, as designated by the Colombian Constitution of 1991 which also reinstated the vice president figure...

 and the Council of Ministers
Council of Ministers of the Republic of Colombia
The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Colombia is part of the executive power, and according to the presidential orientation of the Colombian Constitution of 1991, it is a cabinet of advisors to the President of Colombia.-19th century:...

. The president is elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms and is limited to a maximum of two such terms (increased from one in 2005). At the provincial level executive power is vested in department governors, municipal mayors
Municipalities of Colombia
The Municipalities of Colombia are decentralized subdivisions of the Republic of Colombia. Municipalities make up most of the departments of Colombia with 1,119 municipalities...

 and local administrators for smaller administrative subdivisions, such as corregidores or corregimientos.

The legislative branch of government is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The 102-seat Colombian senate
Senate of Colombia
The Senate of the Republic of Colombia is the upper house of the Congress of Colombia, with the lower house being the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia...

 is elected nationally and the Representatives are elected by every region and minority groups. Members of both houses are elected to serve four-year terms two months before the president, also by popular vote. At the provincial level the legislative branch is represented by department assemblies and municipal councils. All regional elections are held one year and five months after the presidential election.

The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Colombia
The Supreme Court of Colombia in Bogotá is the highest judicial body in civil and penal matters and issues of criminal and civil procedure in Colombia...

, consisting of 23 judges divided into three chambers (Penal, Civil and Agrarian, and Labour). The judicial branch also includes the Council of State
Council of State of Colombia
The Council of State of ColombiaState Council- It is conformed by twenty-seven magistrates that exercise during eight years.- It regulates the conflicts between the matters and the State.Superior Council of Judicature...

, which has special responsibility for administrative law
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

 and also provides legal advice to the executive, the Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of Colombia
The Constitutional Court of Colombia is the highest entity in the judicial branch of government in the Republic of Colombia in charge of safeguarding the integrity and supremacy of the Colombian Constitution of 1991 within the Constitutional laws.However it is not the highest court of criminal...

, responsible for assuring the integrity of the Colombian constitution, and the Superior Council of Judicature
Superior Council of Judicature
Superior Council of Judicature is Colombian institution part of the judicial branch of Colombia in charge of adopting a yearly report which is presented to the Congress of Colombia with a detailed report on justice handling in Colombia...

, responsible for auditing the judicial branch. Colombia operates a system of civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

, which since 2005 has been applied through an adversarial system
Adversarial system
The adversarial system is a legal system where two advocates represent their parties' positions before an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case...

.

Administrative divisions


Click on a department on the map below to go to its article.
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18
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Colombia is divided into 32 departments
Departments of Colombia
Colombia is an unitary republic formed by thirty-two departments and a Capital District . Each department has a Governor and a Department Assembly , elected by popular vote for a four-year period. The governor cannot be re-elected in consecutive periods...

 and one capital district, which is treated as a department (Bogotá also serves as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca
Cundinamarca Department
- Origin of the name :The name of Cundinamarca comes from Kundur marqa, an indigenous expression, probably derived from Quechua. Meaning "Condor's Nest", it was used in pre-Columbian times by the natives of the Magdalena Valley to refer to the nearby highlands....

). Departments are subdivided into municipalities
Municipalities of Colombia
The Municipalities of Colombia are decentralized subdivisions of the Republic of Colombia. Municipalities make up most of the departments of Colombia with 1,119 municipalities...

, each of which is assigned a municipal seat, and municipalities are in turn subdivided into corregimientos. Each department has a local government with a governor and assembly directly elected to four-year terms. Each municipality is headed by a mayor and council, and each corregimiento by an elected corregidor, or local leader.

In addition to the capital nine other cities have been designated districts
Districts of Colombia
The Districts in Colombia are cities that have a feature that highlights them, such as its location and trade, history or tourism. Arguably, the districts are special municipalities....

 (in effect special municipalities), on the basis of special distinguishing features. These are Barranquilla
Barranquilla
Barranquilla is an industrial port city and municipality located in northern Colombia, near the Caribbean Sea. The capital of the Atlántico Department, it is the largest industrial city and port in the Colombian Caribbean region with a population of 1,148,506 as of 2005, which makes it Colombia's...

, Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

, Santa Marta
Santa Marta
Santa Marta is the capital city of the Colombian department of Magdalena in the Caribbean Region. It was founded in July 29, 1525 by the Spanish conqueror Rodrigo de Bastidas, which makes it the oldest remaining city in Colombia...

, Cúcuta
Cúcuta
Cúcuta is a Colombian city, capital of Norte de Santander, in the northeast of the country. Due to its proximity to the Colombian-Venezuelan border, Cúcuta is an important commercial center. The city has the constitutional category of Special District. It is located at the most active...

, Popayán
Popayán
Popayán is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca. It is located in southwestern Colombia between Colombia's Western Mountain Range and Central Mountain Range...

, Bucaramanga
Bucaramanga
Bucaramanga is a Colombian city, and capital city of the department of Santander, Colombia. Bucaramanga has the fifth largest city economy and sixth largest population in Colombia, with 1,212,656 people in its metropolitan area...

, Tunja
Tunja
Tunja is a city and municipality located in the central part of Colombia, in the region of "Alto Chicomocha". As of the 2005 Census it had 152,419 inhabitants. It is the capital of the Department of Boyacá and part of the subregion of the Central Boyacá Province. It is approximately 145 km...

, Turbo
Turbo, Colombia
Turbo is a port town in Antioquia Department, Colombia. It is located at around . It is located on the coast of Gulf of Urabá, 340 km. north from Medellín...

, Buenaventura
Buenaventura, Colombia
Buenaventura is a port city and municipality located in the department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia . Buenaventura is the main port of Colombia in the Pacific Ocean....

 and Tumaco
Tumaco
Tumaco is a port city and municipality in the Nariño Department, Colombia, by the Pacific Ocean. It is located on the southwestern of Colombia, near to border with Ecuador, and enjoys of hot tropical climate...

. Some departments have local administrative subdivisions, where towns have a large concentration of population and municipalities are near each other (for example in Antioquia and Cundinamarca). Where departments have a low population and there are security problems (for example Amazonas, Vaupés and Vichada), special administrative divisions are employed, such as "department corregimientos", which are a hybrid of a municipality and a corregimiento.

Foreign affairs


The foreign affairs of Colombia are headed by the President, as head of state, and managed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Colombia)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also known as the Chancellery, is the national executive ministry of the Government of Colombia responsible for the foreign relations of Colombia through its diplomatic missions abroad by formulating foreign policy relevant to the matters of the State, it is...

. Colombia has diplomatic missions in all continents and is also represented in multilateral organizations at the following locations:
  • Brussels (Mission to the European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

    )
  • Geneva (Permanent Missions to the United Nations and other international organizations)
  • Montevideo (Permanent Missions to the Latin American Integration Association
    Latin American Integration Association
    The Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración is a Latin American trade integration association, based in Montevideo. Its main objective is the establishment of a common market, in pursuit of the economic and social development of the region...

     and Mercosur
    Mercosur
    Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...

    )
  • Nairobi (Permanent Missions to the United Nations and other international organizations)
  • New York (Permanent Mission to the United Nations)
  • Paris (Permanent Mission to UNESCO
    UNESCO
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

    )
  • Rome (Permanent Mission to the Food and Agriculture Organization
    Food and Agriculture Organization
    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

    )
  • Washington, D.C. (Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States
    Organization of American States
    The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

    )


The foreign relations of Colombia are mostly concentrated on combating the illegal drug trade, fighting terrorism, improving Colombia's image in the international community, expanding the international market for Colombian products, and dealing with international environmental issues. Colombia receives special military and commercial co-operation and support in its fight against internal armed groups from the United States, mainly through Plan Colombia
Plan Colombia
The term Plan Colombia is most often used to refer to U.S. legislation aimed at curbing drug smuggling and combating a left-wing insurgency by supporting different activities in Colombia....

; it also enjoys special financial preferences from the European Union in certain product categories.

Colombia was one of the 12 founding members of the UNASUR, which is supposedly modeled on the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 having free trade agreements between the members, free movement of people, a common currency, and also a common passport. Colombia as well as all the other members of UNASUR have had some problems with the integration due to the 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis
2008 Andean diplomatic crisis
The 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis was a diplomatic stand-off between the South American countries of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. It began with an incursion into Ecuadorian territory across the Putumayo River by the Colombian military on March 1, 2008, leading to the deaths of over twenty...

. Colombia is a member of the Andean Community of Nations
Andean Community of Nations
The Andean Community is a customs union comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The trade bloc was called the Andean Pact until 1996 and came into existence with the signing of the Cartagena Agreement in 1969...

 and the Union of South American Nations.

Colombians need tourist visa for 180 countries and exempt from tourist visa requirements in 15 countries.

Defense




The executive branch of government is responsibile for managing the defense of Colombia, with the President commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the armed forces.

The Colombian military is divided into three branches: the National Army of Colombia; the Colombian Air Force
Colombian Air Force
The Colombian Air Force or FAC is the Air Force of the Republic of Colombia.The Colombian Air Force is one of the three institutions of the Armed Forces of Colombia, charge according to the 1991 Constitution of the work to exercise and maintain control of Colombia's airspace to defend the...

; and the Colombian National Armada
Colombian National Armada
The Colombian Navy , also known as the "Armada Nacional" or just the "Armada" in Spanish, is the naval branch of the military forces of Colombia....

. The National Police functions as a gendarmerie
Gendarmerie
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called "gendarmes". The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes a gendarme as "a soldier who is employed on police duties" and a "gendarmery, -erie" as...

, operating independently from the military as the law enforcement agency for the entire country. Each of these operates with their own intelligence apparatus separate from the national intelligence agency, the Administrative Department of Security.

The National Army is formed by divisions, regiments and special units; the National Armada by the Colombian Naval Infantry
Colombian Naval Infantry
The Colombian Naval Infantry and also referred to as Colombian Marines is the marine force of the Colombian National Armada. The 24,000-member Colombian Marine Infantry is organized into a single division with four brigades , each with several battalions plus numerous small security units.-...

, the Naval Force of the Caribbean, the Naval Force of the Pacific, the Naval Force of the South, Colombia Coast Guards, Naval Aviation and the Specific Command of San Andres y Providencia; and the Air Force by 13 air units. The National Police has a presence in all municipalities.

Politics


For over a century Colombian politics were monopolized by the Liberal Party
Colombian Liberal Party
The Colombian Liberal Party is a center-left party in Colombia that adheres to social democracy and social liberalism.The Party was founded in 1848 and, together with the Colombian Conservative Party, subsequently became one of the two main political forces in the country for over a century.After...

 (founded in 1848 on an anti-clerical
Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

, broadly economically liberal
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 and federalist
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 platform), and the Conservative Party
Colombian Conservative Party
The Colombian Conservative Party , is a conservative political party in Colombia. The party was unofficially founded by a group of Revolutionary Commoners during the Revolutionary War for Independence from the Spanish Monarchy and later formally established during the Greater Colombia...

 (founded in 1849 espousing Catholicism, protectionism
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

, and centralism). This culminated in the formation of the National Front
National Front (Colombia)
National Front was a period in the history of Colombia in which the two main political parties; Liberal Party and Conservative Party agreed to let the opposite party govern, intercalating for a period of four presidential terms....

 (1958–1974), which formalized arrangements for an alternation of power between the two parties and excluded non-establishment alternatives (thereby fueling the nascent armed conflict).

By the time of the dissolution of the National Front, traditional political alignments had begun to fragment. This process has continued since, and the consequences of this are exemplified by the results of the 2006 presidential election
Colombian presidential election, 2006
The 2006 Colombian presidential election was held on 28 May 2006. Álvaro Uribe was re-elected as President of the Republic and will serve another four-year term, starting on 7 August 2006...

 which was won with 62% of the vote by the incumbent, Álvaro Uribe
Álvaro Uribe
Alvaro Uribe Vélez was the 58th President of Colombia, from 2002 to 2010. In August 2010 he was appointed Vice-chairman of the UN panel investigating the Gaza flotilla raid....

. Uribe was from a Liberal background but he campaigned as part of the Colombia First
Colombia First
Colombia First is a political movement in Colombia that supported the candidacy of Álvaro Uribe in the 2002 and 2006 presidential elections.-External links:* Foundation...

 movement with the support of the Conservative Party. His hard line on security issues and liberal economics place him on the right of the modern political spectrum.

In second place with 22% was Carlos Gaviria
Carlos Gaviria Díaz
Carlos Emilio Gaviria Díaz is a Colombian lawyer, professor and politician. He served as the 5th Chief Magistrate of the Constitutional Court of Colombia, where he served as a Magistrate from 1993 to 2001...

 of the Alternative Democratic Pole
Alternative Democratic Pole
The Alternative Democratic Pole is a political alliance in Colombia, formed by the Independent Democratic Pole and the Democratic Alternative in December 2005...

, a newly formed social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 alliance which includes elements of the former M-19 guerrilla movement. Horacio Serpa
Horacio Serpa
Horacio Serpa Uribe is a Colombian politician and lawyer. Horacio Serpa has run as the Colombian Liberal Party candidate for President of Colombia on three occasions; in 1998, 2002, and 2006...

 of the Liberal Party achieved third place with 12%. Meanwhile in the congressional elections
Colombian legislative election, 2006
On March 12, 2006 Colombians went to the polls to elect Senate and Chamber of Representatives. Presidential primaries were also held for the Liberal Party and the Alternative Democratic Pole.-Senate Members:...

 held earlier that year the two traditional parties secured only 93 out of 268 seats available.

Despite a number of controversies, most notably the ongoing parapolitics scandal, dramatic improvements in security and continued strong economic performance have ensured that former President Uribe remained popular among Colombian people, with his approval rating peaking at 85%, according to a poll in July 2008. However, having served two terms, he was constitutionally barred from seeking re-election in 2010. The Colombian Congress, with overwhelming support of the Colombian people, had attempted to hold a referendum allowing a vote that would overturn the 2-term limit for presidents, but this attempt was ruled unconstitutional by the Colombian constitutional court on 27 February 2010. Uribe stated that he respects the decision as one that cannot be appealed.

In presidential elections held on 30 May 2010 the former Minister of defense Juan Manuel Santos
Juan Manuel Santos
Juan Manuel Santos Calderón is a Colombian politician who has been the President of Colombia since 7 August 2010. He previously served as Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of Finance, and Minister of National Defense.-Career:...

 received 46% of the vote. However, according to legislation, a second round was required since he received less than the 50% threshold of votes. In the run-off elections on 20 June 2010 against the second most popular candidate, Antanas Mockus
Antanas Mockus
Aurelijus Rutenis Antanas Mockus Šivickas is a Colombian mathematician, philosopher, and politician.The son of Lithuanian immigrants, he left his post as the president of the National University of Colombia in Bogotá in 1993, and later that year ran a successful campaign for mayor...

 who had scored 21%, Juan Manuel Santos was declared the winner; his term as Colombia's president runs for four years from 7 August 2010.

Economy



In spite of the difficulties presented by serious internal armed conflict, Colombia's market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

 grew steadily in the latter part of the twentieth century, with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at an average rate of over 4% per year between 1970 and 1998. The country suffered a recession
Recession
In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. During recessions, many macroeconomic indicators vary in a similar way...

 in 1999 (the first full year of negative growth since the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

), and the recovery from that recession was long and painful. However, in recent years growth has been impressive, reaching 8.2% in 2007, one of the highest rates of growth in Latin America. Meanwhile the Colombian stock exchange
Bolsa de Valores de Colombia
The Bolsa de Valores de Colombia, also known as BVC, is the principal stock exchange of Colombia. It was created on July 3, 2001 by the union of three extant stock exchanges in Colombia: Bogotá Stock Exchange , Medellín Stock Exchange and Cali's Western Stock Exchange .The company maintains...

 climbed from 1,000 points at its creation in July 2001 to over 7,300 points by November 2008.

According to International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 estimates, in 2010 Colombia's GDP (PPP) was US$429.866 billion (28th in the world and third in South America). Adjusted for purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

, GDP per capita stands at $6,273, placing Colombia 82nd in the world. However, in practice this is relatively unevenly distributed among the population, and, in common with much of Latin America, Colombia scores poorly according to the Gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

, with UN figures placing it 119th out of 126 countries. In 2003 the richest 20% of the population had a 62.7% share of income/consumption and the poorest 20% just 2.5%, and 17.8% of Colombians live on less than $2 a day.
Government spending
Government spending
Government spending includes all government consumption, investment but excludes transfer payments made by a state. Government acquisition of goods and services for current use to directly satisfy individual or collective needs of the members of the community is classed as government final...

 represents 37.9% of GDP. Almost a quarter of this goes towards servicing the country's relatively high government debt
Government debt
Government debt is money owed by a central government. In the US, "government debt" may also refer to the debt of a municipal or local government...

, estimated at 52.8% of GDP in 2007. Other problems facing the economy include weak domestic and foreign demand, the funding of the country's pension system, and unemployment (10.8% in November 2008). Inflation has remained relatively low in recent years, standing at 5.5% in 2007.

Historically an agrarian economy, Colombia urbanised rapidly in the twentieth century, by the end of which just 22.7% of the workforce were employed in agriculture, generating just 11.5% of GDP. 18.7% of the workforce are employed in industry and 58.5% in services, responsible for 36% and 52.5% of GDP respectively. Colombia is rich in natural resources, and its main exports include petroleum, coal, coffee
Colombian coffee
Colombian Coffee is a protected designation of origin granted by the European Union that applies to the coffee produced in Colombia. The Colombian coffee has been recognized worldwide as having high quality and distinctive taste...

 and other agricultural produce, and gold. Colombia is also known as the world's leading source of emerald
Emerald
Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the 10 point Mohs scale of mineral hardness...

s, while over 70% of cut flowers
Floriculture
Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry, comprising the floral industry...

 imported by the United States are Colombian. Principal trading partners are the United States (a controversial free trade agreement with the United States is currently awaiting approval by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

), the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, Venezuela and China. All imports, exports, and the overall balance of trade
Balance of trade
The balance of trade is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy over a certain period. It is the relationship between a nation's imports and exports...

 are at record levels, and the inflow of export dollars has resulted in a substantial re-valuation of the Colombian peso
Colombian peso
The peso is the currency of Colombia. Its ISO 4217 code is COP and it is also informally abbreviated as COL$. However, the official peso symbol is $. As 20 July 2011, the exchange rate of the Colombian peso is 1750 Colombian pesos to 1 U.S. dollar.-History:The peso has been the currency of Colombia...

.

Economic performance has been aided by liberal reforms
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 introduced in the early 1990s and continued during the presidency of Álvaro Uribe
Álvaro Uribe
Alvaro Uribe Vélez was the 58th President of Colombia, from 2002 to 2010. In August 2010 he was appointed Vice-chairman of the UN panel investigating the Gaza flotilla raid....

, whose policies included measures designed to bring the public sector deficit below 2.5% of GDP. In 2008, The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong...

 assessed the Colombian economy to be 61.9% free
Index of Economic Freedom
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

, an increase of 2.3% since 2007, placing it 67th in the world and 15th out of 29 countries within the region.

Meanwhile the improvements in security resulting from President Uribe's controversial "democratic security
Democratic security
Democratic security or Democratic security policy refers to a Colombian security policy implemented during the administration of President Álvaro Uribe...

" strategy have engendered an increased sense of confidence in the economy. On 28 May 2007 the American magazine BusinessWeek
BusinessWeek
Bloomberg Businessweek, commonly and formerly known as BusinessWeek, is a weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg L.P. It is currently headquartered in New York City.- History :...

 published an article naming Colombia "the most extreme emerging market on Earth". Colombia's economy has improved in recent years. Investment soared, from 15% of GDP in 2002 to 26% in 2008. private business has retooled. However unemployment at 12% and the poverty rate at 46% in 2009 are above the regional average.

According to a recent World Bank report, doing business is easiest in Manizales, Ibagué and Pereira, and more difficult in Cali and Cartagena. Reforms in custom administration have helped reduce the amount of time it takes to prepare documentation by over 60% for exports and 40% for imports compared to the previous report. Colombia has taken measures to address the backlog in civil municipal courts. The most important result was the dismissal of 12.2% of inactive claims in civil courts thanks to the application of Law 1194 of 2008 (Ley de Desistimiento Tácito).

Tourism


For many years serious internal armed conflict deterred tourists from visiting Colombia, with official travel advisories
Travel advisory
A travel advisory is a public notice issued by a government agency to provide information about the relative safety of travelling to or visiting one or more specific foreign destinations...

 warning against travel to the country. However, in recent years numbers have risen sharply, thanks to improvements in security resulting from President Álvaro Uribe's "democratic security" strategy, which has included significant increases in military strength and police presence throughout the country and pushed rebel groups further away from the major cities, highways and tourist sites likely to attract international visitors. Foreign tourist visits were predicted to have risen from 0.5 million in 2003 to 1.3 million in 2007, while Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011...

picked Colombia as one of their top ten world destinations for 2006.
In 2010 Colombia received 1,4 million foreign visitors, according to official statistics.

In November 2010 the U.S. State Department travel warning for the country stated that security conditions had improved significantly in recent years and kidnappings had been noticeably reduced from their previous peak, but cautioned travelers about continuing terrorist threats and the dangers of common crime, including hostage-taking. Rising murder rates in Cali and Medellín were also highlighted and U.S. citizens were urged to travel between cities by air instead of using ground transportation.>



Popular tourist attractions include the historic Candelaria
La Candelaria
La Candelaria is a historic neighborhood in downtown Bogotá, Colombia. It is the equivalent to the Old City in other cities. The architecture of the old houses, churches and buildings has Spanish Colonial and Baroque styles...

 district of central Bogotá, the walled city and beaches of Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

, the colonial towns of Santa Fe de Antioquia, Popayán
Popayán
Popayán is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca. It is located in southwestern Colombia between Colombia's Western Mountain Range and Central Mountain Range...

, Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva is a colonial town and municipality, in the Boyacá department of Colombia, part of the subregion of the Ricaurte Province. The town is located some 40 km west of Tunja and has a population of about 9,600 people...

 and Santa Cruz de Mompox
Santa Cruz de Mompox
Mompox or Mompós, officially Santa Cruz de Mompox, is a town and municipality in northern Colombia, in the Bolívar Department, which has preserved its colonial character. Located on an island in the Magdalena River where it joins the Cauca River, 249 kilometers from Cartagena. Mompox depends upon...

, and the Las Lajas Sanctuary and the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Tourists are also drawn to Colombia's numerous festivals
Festivals in Colombia
- Major Colombian Carnivals and Festivals :*Barranquilla's Carnival , it holds the second largest carnival parades in the world after Rio de Janeiro's...

, including Medellín
Medellín
Medellín , officially the Municipio de Medellín or Municipality of Medellín, is the second largest city in Colombia. It is in the Aburrá Valley, one of the more northerly of the Andes in South America. It has a population of 2.3 million...

's Festival of the Flowers
Festival of the Flowers
Festival of the Flowers is a festival that takes place in Medellín, Colombia. The festival is the most important social event for the city and there is a pageant, automobiles, a Paso Fino horse parade and many musical concerts.-History:...

, the Barranquilla Carnival
Barranquilla's Carnival
Barranquilla's Carnaval is Colombia's most important folklore celebration, one of the biggest carnivals in the world. The carnival has traditions that date back to the 19th century...

, the Carnival of Blacks and Whites
Carnival of Blacks and Whites
Blacks and Whites' Carnival , is the largest and most important celebration in southern Colombia, its geographical indication belongs to the city of Pasto...

 in Pasto
Pasto
Pasto, officially San Juan de Pasto, is the capital of the department of Nariño, located in southwest Colombia. The city is located in the "Atriz Valley", on the Andes cordillera, at the foot of the Galeras volcano, at an altitude of 8,290 feet above sea level...

 and the Ibero-American Theater Festival in Bogotá. Meanwhile, because of the improved security, Caribbean cruise ship
Cruise ship
A cruise ship or cruise liner is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship's amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way...

s now stop at Cartagena and Santa Marta
Santa Marta
Santa Marta is the capital city of the Colombian department of Magdalena in the Caribbean Region. It was founded in July 29, 1525 by the Spanish conqueror Rodrigo de Bastidas, which makes it the oldest remaining city in Colombia...

.

The great variety in geography, flora and fauna across Colombia has also resulted in the development of an ecotourist
Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 industry, concentrated in the country's national parks. Popular ecotourist destinations include: along the Caribbean coast, the Tayrona National Natural Park
Tayrona National Natural Park
The Tayrona National Natural Park is a protected area in the Colombian northern Caribbean region and within the jurisdiction of the Department of Magdalena and some 34 km from the city of Santa Marta...

 in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated mountain range apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 metres above sea level just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world's highest coastal range...

 mountain range and Cabo de la Vela
Cabo de la Vela
Cabo de la Vela is a headland in the Guajira Peninsula in Colombia with an adjacent small fishing village. It is a popular ecotourism destination of the Caribbean Region of Colombia-History:...

 on the tip of the Guajira Peninsula
Guajira Peninsula
Guajira Peninsula , is a peninsula in northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea...

; the Nevado del Ruiz volcano
Nevado del Ruiz
The Nevado del Ruiz, also known as La Mesa de Herveo or Kumanday in the language of the local pre-Columbian indigenous people, is a volcano located on the border of the departments of Caldas and Tolima in Colombia, about west of the capital city Bogotá. It is a stratovolcano, composed of many...

, the Cocora valley
Cocora valley
The Cocora valley is a valley in the department of Quindío in the country of Colombia. It is located in the Central Cordillera of the Andean mountains. "Cocora" was the name of a Quimbayan princess, daughter of the local chief Acaime, and means "star of water"...

 and the Tatacoa Desert
Tatacoa Desert
The Tatacoa Desert, the second largest arid zone in Colombia after the Guajira Peninsula, is one of the most attractive scenery Colombia occupies 330 square kilometers of land in ocher and gray brushstrokes of green cactus...

 in the central Andean region
Andean Region of Colombia
The Andes mountains form the most populated region of Colombia and contain the majority of the country's urban centres. They were also the location of the most significant pre-Columbian indigenous settlement...

; Amacayacu National Park
Amacayacu National Park
Amacayacu National Natural Park is a national park located along the Amazon River in the Amazonas Department in the south of Colombia. The park was created in 1975. The word "Amacayacu" means "River of the Hamocs" in the indigenous language Quechua. The Ticuna people currently inhabit a part of...

 in the Amazon River basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

; and the Pacific islands of Malpelo
Malpelo Island
Malpelo Island is an island located from Colombia's Pacific coast, and approximately from Panama's coast. It has a land area of . It is uninhabited except for a small military post manned by the Colombian Army, which was established in 1986. Visitors need a written permit from the Colombian...

 and Gorgona
Gorgona, Colombia
Gorgona is a Colombian island in the Pacific Ocean situated about 50 km off the Colombian Pacific coast and part of the municipality of Guapi in the Department of Cauca. The island is about 9 km long and 2.5 km wide, with a maximum height of 338 m ; with an area of 10 square miles...

. Colombia is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Transportation


Colombia has a network of national highways maintained by the Instituto Nacional de Vías
National Roads Institute (Colombia)
The National Roads Institute is an agency of the Executive Branch of the Government of Colombia in charge of allocating, regulating and supervising contracts for highway and roads construction and maintenance....

or INVIAS (National Institute of Roadways) government agency under the Ministry of Transport
Ministry of Transport (Colombia)
The Ministry of Transport is the national executive ministry of the Government of Colombia responsible for charge of regulating transportation in Colombia.- History :...

. The Pan-American Highway
Pan-American Highway
The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads measuring about in total length. Except for an rainforest break, called the Darién Gap, the road links the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world's...

 travels through Colombia, connecting the country with Venezuela to the east and Ecuador to the south.

Colombia's main airports are El Dorado International Airport
El Dorado International Airport
El Dorado International Airport is an international airport located in Bogotá, Colombia. It is the largest Latin America airport in terms of cargo movements with 593,946 tons and the third in terms of passenger traffic, only behind São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport and Mexico City's...

 in Bogotá, Jose Maria Cordova International Airport
José María Córdova International Airport
José María Córdova International Airport is the main airport serving the Colombian city of Medellín and its surrounding metropolitan area. The airport is located about 30 minutes from the urban area by the new Las Palmas express way, in the municipality of Rionegro...

 in Medellín, Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport
Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport
-Cargo airlines:-Accidents and incidents :*On 3 May, Douglas C-47B FAC-1126 of SATENA was damaged beyond repair in an accident at Palmaseca Airport.*On 21 January 1974, a Vickers Viscount of Aeropesca Colombia was hijacked and diverted to Cali....

 in Cali, Rafael Nuñez International Airport
Rafael Núñez International Airport
Rafael Núñez International Airport is an airport located in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. It is the second largest airport on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and the largest in the region in terms of passenger movement....

 in Cartagena, Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport
Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport is located in the municipality of Soledad from Barranquilla, the capital of the Atlántico department in Colombia. The airport owes its name to one of the pioneers of Colombian aviation, Ernesto Cortissoz....

 in Barranquilla, and Matecaña International Airport
Matecaña International Airport
Matecaña International Airport is an airport located in the city of Pereira, Colombia. It connects the Risaralda department of Colombia. It also serves the cities of Armenia, Cartago, and Manizales in emergency situations....

 in Pereira. El Dorado International Airport
El Dorado International Airport
El Dorado International Airport is an international airport located in Bogotá, Colombia. It is the largest Latin America airport in terms of cargo movements with 593,946 tons and the third in terms of passenger traffic, only behind São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport and Mexico City's...

 is the busiest airport in Latin America based upon the number of flights and the weight of goods transported. Several national airlines (Avianca
Avianca
Avianca S.A. is the flag carrier airline of Colombia since December 5, 1919 when it was initially registered under the name SCADTA. It is headquartered in Bogotá, D.C. with its hub at the El Dorado International Airport...

, AeroRepública, AIRES
AIRES
Aerovías de Integración Regional S.A. is a low-cost airline headquartered in the AIRES Hangar in Bogotá, Colombia. It operates scheduled regional domestic and international services, as well as a domestic cargo service...

, SATENA
SATENA
SATENA is an Colombian military airline based in Fontibón, Bogotá, Colombia. It operates regional, domestic and international routes...

 and EasyFly
EasyFly
Easyfly S.A. is a regional low-cost carrier that operates in Colombia. Its main focus is to serve intermediate cities and those not served by other carriers. Operations started in October 2007, with one British Aerospace Jetstream 41 aircraft. Its main base is El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá...

), and international airlines (such as Iberia
Iberia Airlines
Iberia Líneas Aéreas de España, S.A., commonly known as Iberia, is the flag carrier airline of Spain. Based in Madrid, it operates an international network of services from its main bases of Madrid-Barajas Airport and Barcelona El Prat Airport....

, American Airlines
American Airlines
American Airlines, Inc. is the world's fourth-largest airline in passenger miles transported and operating revenues. American Airlines is a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas adjacent to its largest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport...

, Varig
Varig
VARIG was the first airline founded in Brazil, in 1927. From 1965 until 1990 it was Brazil's leading and almost only international airline...

, Copa
Copa Airlines
Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A., operating as Copa Airlines ', is an airline based in Panama City, Panama, and serves as Panama's flag carrier...

, Continental
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines was a major American airline now merged with United Airlines. On May 3, 2010, Continental Airlines, Inc. and UAL, Inc. announced a merger via a stock swap, and on October 1, 2010, the merger closed and UAL changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc...

, Delta
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines, Inc. is a major airline based in the United States and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The airline operates an extensive domestic and international network serving all continents except Antarctica. Delta and its subsidiaries operate over 4,000 flights every day...

, Air Canada
Air Canada
Air Canada is the flag carrier and largest airline of Canada. The airline, founded in 1936, provides scheduled and charter air transport for passengers and cargo to 178 destinations worldwide. It is the world's tenth largest passenger airline by number of destinations, and the airline is a...

, Spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

, Lufthansa
Lufthansa
Deutsche Lufthansa AG is the flag carrier of Germany and the largest airline in Europe in terms of overall passengers carried. The name of the company is derived from Luft , and Hansa .The airline is the world's fourth-largest airline in terms of overall passengers carried, operating...

, Air France
Air France
Air France , stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, , and is one of the world's largest airlines. It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance...

, Aerolíneas Argentinas
Aerolíneas Argentinas
Aerolíneas Argentinas , formally Aerolíneas Argentinas S.A., is Argentina's largest airline and serves as the country's flag carrier. Owned in its majority by the Argentine Government, the airline is headquartered in the Torre Bouchard, located in San Nicolás, Buenos Aires...

, Aerogal
Aerogal
AeroGal is an airline based in Quito, Ecuador. It operates passenger and cargo flights within Ecuador, between the mainland and the Galápagos Islands, and between Ecuador and New York, Perú and Colombia.- History :AeroGal was established in 1986.Through a commercial agreement between AeroGal and...

, TAME
Tame
Tame may refer to:*Taming, the act of domesticating wild animals*River Tame, Greater Manchester*River Tame, West Midlands and the Tame Valley*Tame, Arauca, a Colombian town and municipality...

, TACA
Grupo TACA
TACA is the trade name "brand" comprising a group of five independently IATA-coded and -owned Central American airlines, whose operations are combined to function as one and a number of other independently owned and IATA-coded regional airlines which code-share and feed the TACA brand system...

, JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways Corporation is an American low-cost airline. The company is headquartered in the Forest Hills neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens. Its main base is John F. Kennedy International Airport, also in Queens....

, LAN Airlines
LAN Airlines
LAN Airlines S.A. is an airline based in Santiago, Chile. LAN is currently positioned amongst the largest airlines in Latin America, serving Latin America, United States, the Caribbean, Oceania, and Europe. It is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance...

) operate from El Dorado. Because of its central location in Colombia and America, it is preferred by national land transportation providers, as well as national and international air transportation providers.

Urban transport systems are developed in Bogotá and Medellín. Traffic congestion in Bogotá has been greatly exacerbated by the lack of rail transport. However, this problem has been alleviated somewhat by the development of the TransMilenio Bus Rapid System and the restriction of vehicles through a daily, rotating ban on private cars depending on plate numbers. Bogotá's system consists of bus and minibus services managed by both private- and public-sector enterprises. Since 1995 Medellín has had a modern urban railway referred to as the 'Metro de Medellín
Metro de Medellín
The Medellín Metro is an urban train that crosses the Metropolitan Area of Medellín from North to South and from Centre to West. As one of the first experiences of modern mass transportation in Colombia and the only metro system in the country, the Medellín Metro is a product of the urban planning...

', which also connects with Itagüí, Envigado, and Bello. An elevated cable car system, Metrocable, was added in 2004 to link some of Medellín's poorer mountainous neighborhoods with the Metro de Medellín. A rapid-transit bus system called Transmetro, similar to Bogotá's TransMilenio, began operating in Barranquilla in late 2007. Cali's streets remain under construction as a new public-transit system called the Massive Integration of the West is being built.

Colombia dry canal


China and Colombia have discussed a Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 rival, a 'Dry Canal' a 220 km rail link between the Pacific and a new city near Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

. China is Colombia's second largest trade partner after the USA. Colombia is also the world's fifth-largest coal producer, but most is currently exported via Atlantic ports while demand is growing fastest across the Pacific. A dry canal could make Colombia a hub where imported Chinese goods would be assembled for re-export throughout the Americas and Latin American raw materials would begin the return journey to China.

Demographics


With an estimated 46 million people in 2008, Colombia is the third-most populous country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. It is also home to the fourth-largest number of Spanish speakers in the world after Mexico, the United States, and Spain. It is slightly ahead of Argentina by almost 6 million people. At the outset of the 20th century, Colombia's population was approximately 4 million. The population increased at a rate of 1.9% between 1975 and 2005, predicted to drop to 1.2% over the next decade. Colombia is projected to have a population of 50.7 million by 2015. These trends are reflected in the country's age profile. In 2005 over 30% of the population was under 15 years old, compared to just 5.1% aged 65 and over.

The population is concentrated in the Andean highlands
Andean Region of Colombia
The Andes mountains form the most populated region of Colombia and contain the majority of the country's urban centres. They were also the location of the most significant pre-Columbian indigenous settlement...

 and along the Caribbean coast. The nine eastern lowland departments, comprising about 54% of Colombia's area, have less than 3% of the population and a density of less than one person per square kilometer (two persons per square mile). Traditionally a rural society, movement to urban areas
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

 was very heavy in the mid-twentieth century, and Colombia is now one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America. The urban population increased from 31% of the total in 1938 to 60% in 1975, and by 2005 the figure stood at 72.7%. The population of Bogotá alone has increased from just over 300,000 in 1938 to approximately 8 million today. In total thirty cities now have populations of 100,000 or more. As of 2010 Colombia has the world's largest populations of internally displaced person
Internally displaced person
An internally displaced person is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders. They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the current legal definition of a refugee. At the end of 2006 it was estimated there were...

s (IDPs), estimated up to 4.5 million people.

Colombia is ranked sixth in the world in the Happy Planet Index
Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation in July 2006. The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product and the Human Development Index...

.

Ethnic groups


The census data in Colombia does not record ethnicity, other than that of those identifying themselves as members of particular minority ethnic groups, so overall percentages are essentially estimates from other sources and can vary from one to another.
According to the CIA World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

, the majority of the population (58%) is Mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

, or of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. Approximately 20% of the population is of European
White Latin American
White Latin Americans are the people of Latin America who are white in the racial classification systems used in individual Latin American countries. Persons who are classified as White in one Latin American country may be classified differently in another country...

 ancestry (predominantly Spanish, partly Italian, Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, and German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

). The CIA World Factbook also states that 14% of Colombia's total population is of mixed African and European ancestry, with 3% being of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry, and 4% having primarily African ancestry. Indigenous Amerindians
Indigenous peoples in Colombia
The indigenous peoples in Colombia comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who inhabited the country's present territory prior to its discovery by Europeans around 1500.-Origins:...

 comprise only 1% of the population. Other sources claim that up to 29% of Colombians (13 million people) have some African ancestry.

The overwhelming majority of Colombians speak Spanish (see also Colombian Spanish
Colombian Spanish
Colombian Spanish is a term that refers to the varieties of Spanish spoken in Colombia. The term is of more geographical than linguistic relevance, since the dialects spoken in the various regions of Colombia are quite diverse...

), but in total 101 languages are listed for Colombia in the Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

 database, of which 80 are spoken today. Most of these belong to the Chibcha
Chibchan languages
The Chibchan languages make up a language family indigenous to the Isthmo-Colombian area, which extends from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia and includes populations of these countries as well as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama...

n, Arawak
Arawakan languages
Macro-Arawakan is a proposed language family of South America and the Caribbean based on the Arawakan languages. Sometimes the proposal is called Arawakan, in which case the central family is called Maipurean....

 and Carib
Cariban languages
The Cariban languages are an indigenous language family of South America. They are widespread across northernmost South America, from the mouth of the Amazon River to the Colombian Andes, but also appear in central Brazil. Cariban languages are relatively closely related, and number two to three...

an language families. The Quechua language, spoken in the Andes region of the country, has also extended more northwards into Colombia, mainly in urban centers of major cities. There are currently about 500,000 speakers of indigenous languages.

Indigenous peoples


Before the Spanish colonization of what is now Colombia, the territory was home to a significant number of indigenous peoples. Many of these were absorbed into the mestizo population, but the remainder currently represents over eighty-five distinct cultures. 567 reserves (resguardos) established for indigenous peoples occupy 365,004 square kilometres (over 30% of the country's total) and are inhabited by more than 800,000 people in over 67,000 families. The 1991 constitution established their native languages as official in their territories, and most of them have bilingual education (native and Spanish).

Some of the largest indigenous groups are the Wayuu
Wayuu
Wayuu is an Amerindian ethnic group of the La Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and northwest Venezuela. They are part of the Maipurean language family.- Geography :...

, the Arhuacos
Arhuacos
The Arhuaco people, also called the Aruacos, Ica, Ijca or Bintuk, names of a Native American ethnic group part of the Chibcha family, descendents of the Tairona Culture concentrated in northern Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.-Territory:The Arhuacos live in the upper valleys of the...

, the Muisca
Muisca
Muisca was the Chibcha-speaking tribe that formed the Muisca Confederation of the central highlands of present-day Colombia. They were encountered by the Spanish Empire in 1537, at the time of the conquest...

, the Kuna
Kuna (people)
Kuna or Cuna is the name of an indigenous people of Panama and Colombia. The spelling Kuna is currently preferred. In the Kuna language, the name is Dule or Tule, meaning "people," and the name of the language in Kuna is Dulegaya, meaning "Kuna language" - Location :The Kuna live in three...

, the Paez
Paez people
The Paez, also known as the Nasa, are a Native American people who live in the Andes Mountains of Colombia.-Religion:In the early 1900s, Lazarists built missions among the Paez and began the work to convert them to Christianity. Jesuits had originally tried to convert the Paez, but failed. However,...

, the Tucano
Tucano people
The Tucano are a group of indigenous South Americans living in the northwestern Amazon, along the Vaupés River and the surrounding area. They are present in both Colombia and Brazil, although most live on the Colombian side of the border...

 and the Guahibo
Guahibo people
The Guahibo people people are an indigenous people native to Llanos or savannah plains in eastern Colombia--Arauca, Meta, Guainia, and Vichada departments--and in southern Venezuela near the Colombian border. Their population is was estimated at 23,772 people in 1998....

. Cauca
Cauca Department
Cauca is a Department of Colombia. Located in the south-western part of the country, facing the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Valle del Cauca Department to the north, Tolima Department to the northeast, Huila Department to the east and the Nariño Department to the south, covering a total area of...

, La Guajira
Department of La Guajira
La Guajira is a department of Colombia. It occupies most of its namesake peninsula, the Guajira Peninsula in the northeast region of the country, facing the Caribbean Sea and Venezuela in the northern most part of South America...

 and Guainia
Guainía Department
Guainía is a department of Colombia. It is in the east of the country, bordering Venezuela and Brazil. Its capital is Inirida. In 1963 Guainía was split off from Vaupés. The northern part and the Inírida River are included in the Orinoco river basin; the rest is part of Amazonia...

 have the largest indigenous populations.

The Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia
National Indigenous Organization of Colombia
The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia is an organization representing the indigenous peoples of Colombia, who comprise some 800,000 people or approximately 2% of the population...

 (ONIC), founded at the first National Indigenous Congress in 1982, is an organization representing the indigenous peoples of Colombia, who comprise some 800,000 people – roughly 2% of the population.

In 1991, Colombia signed and ratified the current international law concerning indigenous peoples, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 is an International Labour Organization Convention, also known as ILO-convention 169, or C169. It is the major binding international convention concerning indigenous peoples, and a forerunner of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.It...

.

Immigrant groups




The first and most substantial wave of modern immigration to Colombia consisted of Spanish colonists
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

, following the arrival of Europeans in 1499. However a low number of other Europeans and North Americans migrated to the country in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, and, in smaller numbers, Poles, Lithuanians, English, Irish, and Croats
Croats
Croats are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world. Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have...

 during and after the Second World War.

Many immigrant communities have settled on the Caribbean coast, in particular recent immigrants from the Middle East. Barranquilla
Barranquilla
Barranquilla is an industrial port city and municipality located in northern Colombia, near the Caribbean Sea. The capital of the Atlántico Department, it is the largest industrial city and port in the Colombian Caribbean region with a population of 1,148,506 as of 2005, which makes it Colombia's...

 (the largest city of the Colombian Caribbean) and other Caribbean cities have the largest populations of Lebanese and Arabs, Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

, Roma. There are also important communities of Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

 and Japanese.

Black Africans
African people
African people refers to natives, inhabitants, or citizen of Africa and to people of African descent.-Etymology:Many etymological hypotheses that have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa":...

 were brought as slaves
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, mostly to the coastal lowlands, beginning early in the 16th century and continuing into the 19th century. Large Afro-Colombian communities are found today on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. The population of the department of Chocó
Chocó Department
Chocó is a department of Colombia known for its large Afro-Colombian population. It is in the west of the country, and is the only Colombian department to have coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It also has all of Colombia's border with Panama. Its capital is...

, running along the northern portion of Colombia's Pacific coast, is over 80% black.

Impact of armed conflict on civilians


Around one third of the people in Colombia have been affected in some way by the ongoing armed conflict. Those with direct personal experience make up 10% of the population and many others also report suffering a range of serious hardships. Overall, 31% have been affected on a personal level or as a result of the wider consequences of the conflict. During the 1990s, an estimated 35,000 people died as a result of the armed conflict. Trade unions in Colombia
Trade unions in Colombia
see also Human rights in ColombiaTrade unions in Colombia were until around 1990 among the strongest in Latin America. However the 1980s expansion of paramilitarism in Colombia saw trade union leaders and members increasingly targeted for assassination, and as a result Colombia has been the most...

 are included among the victimized groups with over 2,800 of their members being murdered between 1986 and 2010.

During the first six months of 2011 it is estimated that 98,000 people had to flee their homes due to the internal armed conflict. A total of 3,7 million people have been displaced due to violence between 2000 and 2011.

Religion




The National Administrative Department of Statistics
National Administrative Department of Statistics
The National Administrative Department of Statistics , commonly referred to as DANE, is the Colombian Administrative Department responsible for the planning, implementation, analysis and diffusion of the official statistics of Colombia. DANE is also in charge of carrying out the National census...

 (DANE) does not collect religious statistics, and accurate reports are difficult to obtain. However, based on various studies, more than 95% of the population adheres to Christianity, the vast majority of which (between 81% and 90%) are Roman Catholic. About 1% of Colombians adhere to indigenous religions
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 and under 1% to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. However, around 60% of respondents to a poll by El Tiempo reported that they did not practice their faith actively.

While Colombia remains an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, the Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion. Religious groups are readily able to obtain recognition as organized associations, although some smaller ones have faced difficulty in obtaining the additional recognition required to offer chaplaincy services in public facilities and to perform legally recognised marriages.

Health



Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 at birth in 2005 was 72.3; 2.1% would not reach the age of 5, 9.2% would not reach the age of 40. Health standards in Colombia have improved greatly since the 1980s. A 1993 reform transformed the structure of public health-care funding by shifting the burden of subsidy from providers to users. As a result, employees have been obligated to pay into health plans to which employers also contribute. Although this new system has widened population coverage by the social and health security system from 21 percent (pre-1993) to 56 percent in 2004 and 66 percent in 2005, health disparities persist, with the poor continuing to suffer relatively high mortality rates. In 2002 Colombia had 58,761 physicians, 23,950 nurses, and 33,951 dentists; these numbers equated to 1.35 physicians, 0.55 nurses, and 0.78 dentists per 1,000 population, respectively. In 2005 Colombia was reported to have only 1.1 physicians per 1,000 population, as compared with a Latin American average of 1.5. The health sector reportedly is plagued by rampant corruption, including misallocation of funds and evasion of health-fund contributions.

Education


The educational experience of many Colombian children begins with attendance at a preschool academy until age 5 (Educación preescolar). Basic education (Educación básica) is compulsory by law. It has two stages: Primary basic education (Educación básica primaria) which goes from first to fifth grade – children from 6 to 10 years old, and Secondary basic education (Educación básica secundaria), which goes from sixth to ninth grade. Basic education is followed by Middle vocational education (Educación media vocacional) that comprises tenth and eleventh grades. It may have different vocational training modalities or specialties (academic, technical, business, and so on.) according to the curriculum adopted by each school. However in many rural areas, teachers are poorly qualified, and only the five years' of primary schooling are offered. The school year can extend from February to November or from August to June; in many public schools attendance is split into morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate the large numbers of children.

After the successful completion of all the basic and middle education years, a high-school diploma is awarded. The high-school graduate is known as a bachiller, because secondary basic school and middle education are traditionally considered together as a unit called bachillerato (6th to 11th grade). Students in their final year of middle education take the ICFES test
ICFES Examination
The ICFES exam, currently Saber 11, is a standardized test similar to the SAT in the United States. The test is administered prior to graduation in Colombian high schools final year, 11th or 12th. It can be taken as many times as a student sees fit...

 in order to gain access to higher education (Educación superior). This higher education includes undergraduate professional studies, technical, technological and intermediate professional education, and post-graduate studies.

Bachilleres (high-school graduates) may enter into a professional undergraduate career program offered by a university; these programs last up to 5 years (or less for technical, technological and intermediate professional education, and post-graduate studies), even up to 6–7 years for some careers, such as medicine. In Colombia, there is not an institution such as college; students go directly into a career program at a university or any other educational institution to obtain a professional, technical or technological title. Once graduated from the university, people are granted a (professional, technical or technological) diploma and licensed (if required) to practice the career they have chosen. For some professional career programs, students are required to take the SABER-PRO test, also known as ECAES, in their final year of undergraduate academic education.

Public spending on education as a proportion of gross domestic product in 2006 was 4.7% – one of the highest rates in Latin America – as compared with 2.4% in 1991. This represented 14.2% of total government expenditure. In 2006, the primary and secondary net enrollment rates stood at 88% and 65% respectively, slightly below the regional average. School-life expectancy was 12.4 years. A total of 92.3% of the population aged 15 and older were recorded as literate, including 97.9% of those aged 15–24, both figures slightly higher than the regional average. However, literacy levels are considerably lower in rural areas.

Education in Colombia


Culture


Colombia lies at the crossroads of Latin America
Latin American culture
Latin American culture is the formal or informal expression of the peoples of Latin America, and includes both high culture and popular culture as well as religion and other customary practices....

 and the broader American continent, and as such has been hit by a wide range of cultural influences. Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, Spanish
Culture of Spain
The culture of Spain is based on a variety of influences.The Visigothic Kingdom left a sense of a united Christian Hispania that was going to be welded in the Reconquista. Muslim influences were strong during the period of 711 AD to the 15th century, especially linguistically...

 and other European
Culture of Europe
The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Orthodoxism as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism as opposed to Secularism; many have claimed to identify cultural...

, African
Culture of Africa
The culture of Africa encompasses and includes all cultures within the continent of Africa. There is a political or racial split between North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, which is in turn divided into a great number of ethnic cultures...

, American
Culture of the United States
The Culture of the United States is a Western culture originally influenced by European cultures. It has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore...

, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern influences, as well as other Latin American cultural influences, are all present in Colombia's modern culture. Urban migration, industrialization, globalization, and other political, social and economic changes have also left an impression.

Historically, the country's imposing landscape left its various regions
Natural regions of Colombia
Because of its natural structure, Colombia can be divided into six very distinct natural regions. These consist of the Andean region, covering the three branches of the Andes mountains found in Colombia; the Caribbean region, covering the area adjacent to the Caribbean sea; the Pacific region...

 largely isolated from one another, resulting in the development of very strong regional identities, in many cases stronger than the national. Modern transport links and means of communication have mitigated this and done much to foster a sense of nationhood, but social and political instability, and in particular fear of armed groups and bandits on intercity highways, have contributed to the maintenance of very clear regional differences. Accent, dress, music, food, politics and general attitude vary greatly between the Bogotanos and other residents of the central highlands, the paisas of Antioquia and the coffee region, the costeños of the Caribbean coast, the llanero
Llanero
A llanero is a Venezuelan or Colombian herder. The name is taken from the Llanos grasslands occupying western Venezuela and eastern Colombia. The Llanero were originally part Spanish and Indian and have a strong culture including a distinctive form of music.During the wars of independence,...

s
of the eastern plains, and the inhabitants of the Pacific coast
Pacific Region of Colombia
The Pacific Region is one of the five major natural regions of the Colombian geography. The Pacific region covers the area near the Pacific Ocean in Colombia that contains certain endemic species and ecosystems accompanied by Colombian cultural influence....

 and the vast Amazon region
Amazon Region of Colombia
The Amazonía Region is a region in southern Colombia. It comprises the departments of Amazonas, Caquetá, Guainía, Guaviare, Putumayo and Vaupés, and covers an area of 403,000 km², 35% of Colombia's total territory...

 to the south east.
An inheritance from the colonial era
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

, Colombia remains a deeply Roman Catholic country
Roman Catholicism in Colombia
Colombia has a high percentage of Catholics, 90% of the population. There are 74 dioceses and other territorial jurisdictions.Catholicism was introduced in 1508. Two dioceses were organized in 1534. There was appreciable Church growth by the mid-17th century, in spite of the variety of Indian...

 and maintains a large base of Catholic traditions which provide a point of unity for its multicultural society. Colombia has many celebrations and festivals
Festivals in Colombia
- Major Colombian Carnivals and Festivals :*Barranquilla's Carnival , it holds the second largest carnival parades in the world after Rio de Janeiro's...

 throughout the year, and the majority are rooted in these Catholic religious traditions. However, many are also infused with a diverse range of other influences. Prominent examples of Colombia's festivals include the Barranquilla Carnival
Barranquilla's Carnival
Barranquilla's Carnaval is Colombia's most important folklore celebration, one of the biggest carnivals in the world. The carnival has traditions that date back to the 19th century...

, the Carnival of Blacks and Whites
Carnival of Blacks and Whites
Blacks and Whites' Carnival , is the largest and most important celebration in southern Colombia, its geographical indication belongs to the city of Pasto...

, Medellín's Festival of the Flowers
Festival of the Flowers
Festival of the Flowers is a festival that takes place in Medellín, Colombia. The festival is the most important social event for the city and there is a pageant, automobiles, a Paso Fino horse parade and many musical concerts.-History:...

 and Bogotá's Ibero-American Theater Festival

The mixing of various ethnic traditions is reflected in Colombia's music
Music of Colombia
The music of Colombia is an expression of the Colombian culture, which contains diverse music genres, traditional and moderns according with the features of each geographic region; although it is frequent to find different musical styles in the same region...

 and dance. The most well-known Colombian genres are cumbia
Cumbia
Cumbia is a music genre popular across Latin America. The cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where it is associated with an eponymous dance and has since spread as far as Mexico and Argentina...

 and vallenato
Vallenato
Vallenato, along with cumbia, is currently a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in...

, the latter now strongly influenced by global pop culture. A powerful and unifying cultural medium in Colombia is television
Television in Colombia
Television in Colombia or Colombian television is a media of Colombia. It is characterized for broadcasting telenovelas, series, game shows and TV news. Until 1998 it was a state monopoly...

. Notably, the telenovela Betty La Fea
Betty la fea
Yo soy Betty, la fea is a popular soap opera filmed in Colombia, written by Fernando Gaitán and produced between 1999 through 2001 by the Colombian network RCN . More than a dozen versions of the telenovela have been made in other countries...

 has gained international success through localized versions in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere. Television has also played a role in the development of the local film industry
Cinema of Colombia
Colombian Cinema has struggled to develop as a solid industry throughout its history. During the beginning of the 20th century some production companies tried to maintain a level of constant production but lack of government support and a strong international industry ended up diminishing initiative...

.

As in many Latin American countries, Colombians have a passion for association football. The Colombian national football team is seen as a symbol of unity and national pride, though local clubs also inspire fierce loyalty and sometimes-violent rivalries
Barra Brava
Barra brava is a name for organized supporter groups of football teams in Latin America. This style of supporting is very similar to European ultras. It includes standing throughout the match, singing and other enthusiastic behavior. Some barras bravas have developed reputations for hooliganism...

. Colombia has "exported" many players, such as Freddy Rincón, Carlos Valderrama, Iván Ramiro Córdoba, and Faustino Asprilla
Faustino Asprilla
Faustino Hernán "Tino" Asprilla Hinestroza is a former Colombian football player. He was known by his supporters in his home country as The Octopus for his voracious appetite...

. Other Colombian athletes
Sport in Colombia
Sports in Colombia refers to the practice of sports in Colombia. There are professional sports leagues as well as amateur leagues for numerous sports. Association football and cycling are the most popular sports in Colombia...

 have also achieved success, including Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya Roldán is a Colombian race car driver known internationally for participating and winning in Formula One and CART race competitions. He has enjoyed great success. Currently, he competes in NASCAR, driving the #42 Target Chevrolet Impala for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in the Sprint...

 in Formula One Racing, Edgar Rentería
Edgar Rentería
Edgar Enrique Rentería Herazo , nicknamed "The Barranquilla Baby," is a Colombian professional baseball shortstop. He throws and bats right-handed. Previously, he has played for the Florida Marlins, the St...

 and Orlando Cabrera
Orlando Cabrera
Orlando Luis Cabrera, nicknamed "O-Cab" and "The OC", is a Colombian-American baseball infielder.He won a World Series championship in 2004 with the Boston Red Sox. He has played for the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins,...

 in Major League Baseball, and the Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas is a Colombian professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour and the European Tour.-Early years:Villegas was born in Medellín, Colombia, and took up golf as a child...

 in professional golf.

Other famous Colombians include the Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in...

, the artist Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian figurative artist. His works feature a figurative style, called by some "Boterismo", which gives them an unmistakable identity...

, the writers Fernando Vallejo
Fernando Vallejo
Fernando Vallejo Rendón is a novelist, filmmaker and essayist, born in Colombia. He obtained Mexican nationality in 2007.Vallejo was born and raised in Medellín, though he left his hometown early in life...

, Laura Restrepo
Laura Restrepo
Laura Restrepo is one of the most skilled writers to emerge from Latin America since the days of the Latin American Boom. She was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1950 and after about 25 years she began to write her first serious works, mainly political columns. Her first fiction novel, Isle of...

, Álvaro Mutis
Álvaro Mutis
Álvaro Mutis Jaramillo is a Colombian poet, novelist, and essayist and author of the compendium The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll.-Early life:...

 and James Cañón
James Cañón
Born and raised in Ibagué, Colombia, James Cañón received his B.A in advertising from Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano of Bogotá. He moved to New York in the mid 1990s to study English, and later earned his MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. His short stories and essays have been...

, the musicians Shakira
Shakira
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll , known professionally as Shakira , is a Colombian singer who emerged in the music scene of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s...

, Juanes
Juanes
Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez , better known as Juanes is a Colombian musician who was a member of heavy metal band Ekhymosis and is now a solo artist. In 2000, his solo debut album Fíjate Bien won three Latin Grammy Awards.Juanes has sold more than 13 million albums...

, Carlos Vives
Carlos Vives
Carlos Alberto Vives Restrepo is a Grammy Award and three-time Latin Grammy Award winning-Colombian singer, composer and actor.-Biography:...

 and Juan Garcia-Herreros
Juan Garcia-Herreros
Juan Garcia-Herreros, also known as "The Snow Owl", is a native born Colombian Bassist & Composer, notable for his virtuoso musicianship and for his use of a customised 6-stringed Electric Contrabass Guitar.-History:...

, and the actors Catalina Sandino Moreno
Catalina Sandino Moreno
Catalina Sandino Moreno is a Colombian actress. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Maria Full of Grace .-Life and career:...

, John Leguizamo
John Leguizamo
Jonathan Alberto "John" Leguizamo is an Colombian-American actor, producer, voice artist, and comedian.-Early life:...

, Catherine Siachoque
Catherine Siachoque
'Catherine Siachoque is a Colombian actress best known for her roles in numerous telenovelas.-Career:...

 and Sofía Vergara
Sofía Vergara
Sofía Margarita Vergara Vergara is a Colombian actress, comedian, television hostess and model.Vergara had been widely known for co-hosting two TV shows for Univisión in the late 1990s. Her TV career opened up for her a window of exposure to North American audiences prior to her first notable...

.

The Colombian cuisine
Colombian cuisine
Colombian cuisine refers to the cooking traditions and practices of Colombia. Along with other cultural expressions of national identity, Colombian cuisine varies among its many distinct regions. Colombians typically eat three meals a day: a large breakfast, a medium lunch between 12-2, and a light...

 developed mainly from the food traditions of European countries. Spanish
Spanish cuisine
Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country's deep maritime roots...

, Italian
Italian cuisine
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Arab cuisines...

 and French
French cuisine
French cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from France that has developed from centuries of social change. In the Middle Ages, Guillaume Tirel , a court chef, authored Le Viandier, one of the earliest recipe collections of Medieval France...

 culinary influences can all be seen in Colombian cooking. The cuisine of neighboring Latin American countries
Latin American cuisine
Latin American Cuisine refers to typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the countries and cultures in Latin America...

, Mexico
Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine, a style of food that originates in Mexico, is known for its varied flavors, colourful decoration and variety of spices and ingredients, most of which are native to the country. The cuisine of Mexico has evolved through thousands of years of blending indigenous cultures, with later...

, the United States
Cuisine of the United States
American cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from the United States of America. European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of a number of ingredients and cooking styles to the latter...

 and the Caribbean
Caribbean cuisine
Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Amerindian, British, Spanish, French, Dutch, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. These traditions were brought from the many homelands of this region's population...

, as well as the cooking traditions
Native American cuisine
Native American cuisine includes all food practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Information about Native American cuisine comes from a great variety of sources. Modern-day native peoples retain a rich body of traditional foods, some of which have become iconic of present-day Native...

 of the country's indigenous inhabitants, have all influenced Colombian food. For example, cuy
Guinea pig
The guinea pig , also called the cavy, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea...

 or guinea pig, which is an indigenous cuisine, is eaten in the Andes region of south-western Colombia.

Many national symbols
National symbols of Colombia
The National symbols of Colombia are the symbols which represent the national identity of the Republic of Colombia as a sovereign state. The national symbols intend to represent the Colombian identity by creating visual, verbal cultural iconic representations of the national people, values,...

, both objects and themes, have arisen from Colombia's diverse cultural traditions and aim to represent what Colombia, and the Colombian people, have in common. Cultural expressions in Colombia are promoted by the government through the Ministry of Culture
Ministry of Culture (Colombia)
The Ministry of Culture is the national executive ministry of the Government of Colombia charged with preserving, promoting, and encouraging the growth, free expression and understanding of the Culture of Colombia in all its multi-ethnic forms.-Ministers:...

.

Popular culture


The depiction of Colombia in popular culture, especially the portrayal of Colombian people
Colombian people
Colombian people are from a multiethnic Spanish speaking nation in South America called Colombia. Colombians are predominantly Roman Catholic and are a mixture of Europeans, Africans, and Amerindians.-Demography:...

 in film and fiction, has been asserted by Colombian organizations and government to be largely negative and has raised concerns that it reinforces, or even engenders, stereotypes, societal prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 and discrimination due to association with poverty, narcotics trafficking, terrorism and other criminal elements. These stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

s are considered unfair by many Colombians. The Colombian government funded the "Colombia es Pasión" advertisement campaign as an attempt to improve Colombia's image abroad, with mixed results.

Cuisine



Dishes & drinks from Colombia



Colombia's cuisine, influenced heavily by the Spanish and Indigenous populations, is not as widely known as other Latin American cuisines such as Peruvian or Brazilian, but to the adventurous traveler there are plenty of delectable dishes to try, not to mention fruits, rum, and especially Colombian coffee.

See also


  • CIVETS
    CIVETS
    The CIVETS is an acronym for favored emerging markets coined in late 2009 by Robert Ward, Global Forecasting Director for the Economist Intelligence Unit . The term has also been used by HSBC's chief executive Michael Geoghegan...

  • International rankings of Colombia
    International rankings of Colombia
    -Demographics:*Immigrant population ranked 112 most immigrants*Population ranked 29-Economy:*World Bank List of countries by GDP ranked 35th biggest economy in the world-Health:...

  • List of Colombians

  • National Library of Colombia
    National Library of Colombia
    The National Library of Colombia is the national library of Colombia. The library is a dependancy of the Colombian Ministry of Culture.- Founding and history :...

  • South America Life Quality Rankings
  • South America Life Quality Rankings - Economy and Finance
  • South America Life Quality Rankings - Law and Justice
  • United Nations Development Programme
    United Nations Development Programme
    The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to...



Further reading


  • (English) Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
  • (English) Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568. Academia Colombiana de Historia (1986), Historia extensa de Colombia (41 volumes). Bogotá: Ediciones Lerner, 1965–1986. ISBN 958-95013-3-8 (Complete work) Barrios, Luis (1984), Historia de Colombia. Fifth edition, Bogotá: Editorial Cultural Bedoya F., Víctor A. (1944), Historia de Colombia: independencia y república con bases fundamentales en la colonia. Colección La Salle, Bogotá: Librería Stella
  • Bushnell, David (1993), The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08289-3 Caballero Argaez, Carlos (1987), 50 años de economía: de la crisis del treinta à la del ochenta. Second edition, Colección Jorge Ortega Torres, Bogotá: Editorial Presencia, Asociación Bancaria de Colombia. ISBN 958-9040-03-9 Cadavid Misas, Roberto (2004), Cursillo de historia de Colombia: de la conquista à la independencia. Bogotá: Intermedio Editores. ISBN 958–709–134–5 Calderón Schrader, Camilo; Gil, Antonio; Torras, Daniel (2001), Enciclopedia de Colombia (4 volumes). Barcelona: Céano Grupo Editorial, 2001. ISBN 84-494-1947-6 (Complete work) Calderón Schrader, Camilo (1993), Gran enciclopedia de Colombia (11 volumes). Bogotá: Círculo de Lectores. ISBN 958-28-0294-4 (Complete work) Cavelier Gaviria, Germán (2003), Centenario de Panamá: una historia de la separación de Colombia en 1903. Bogotá: Universidad Externado de Colombia. ISBN 958–616–718–6 Forero, Manuel José (1946), Historia analítica de Colombia desde los orígenes de la independencia nacional. Second edition, Bogotá: Librería Voluntad. Gómez Hoyos, Rafael (1992), La independencia de Colombia. Madrid: Editorial Mapfre, Colecciones Mapfre 1492. ISBN 84-7100-596-4 Granados, Rafael María (1978), Historia general de Colombia: prehistoria, conquista, colonia, independencia y Repúbica. Eighth edition, Bogotá: Imprenta Departamental Antonio Nariño. Hernández de Alba, Guillermo (2004), Como nació la República de Colombia. Colección Bolsilibros. Bogotá: Academia Colombiana de Historia. ISBN 958-8040-35-3 Hernández Becerra, Augusto (2001), Ordenamiento y desarreglo territorial en Colombia. Bogotá: Universidad Externado de Colombia, ISBN 958–616–555–8 Hernández Rodríguez, Guillermo (1949), De los chibchas à la colonia y à la república. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Sección de Extensión Cultural.
  • Hylton, Forrest (2006), Evil Hour in Colombia. New York: Verso Books. ISBN 1-84467-551-3 Jaramillo Uribe, Jaime; Tirado Mejía, Álvaro; Calderón Schrader, Camilo (2000), Nueva historia de Colombia (12 volumes). Bogotá: Planeta Colombiana Editorial. ISBN 958–614–251–5 (Complete work)
  • Kirk, Robin (2004), More Terrible Than Death: Drugs, Violence, and America's War in Colombia. United States: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-58648-207-6 Ocampo López, Javier (1999), El proceso ideológico de la emancipación en Colombia. Colección La Línea de Horizonte, Bogotá: Editorial Planeta. ISBN 958–614–792–4
  • Ospina, William (2006), Once Upon a Time There Was Colombia. Colombia: Villegas Asociados. ISBN 958-8156-64-5
  • Palacios, Marco (2006), Between Legitimacy and Violence: A History of Colombia, 1875–2002. United States of America: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3767-3 Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo (1998), Colombia indígena. Medellín: Hola Colina. ISBN 958–638–276–1 Restrepo, José Manuel (1974), Historia de la revolución de la República de Colombia. Medellín: Editorial Bedout. Rivadeneira Vargas, Antonio José (2002), Historia constitucional de Colombia 1510–2000. Third edition, Tunja: Editorial Bolivariana Internacional.
  • Simons, Geoff (2004), Colombia: A Brutal History. London: Saqi Books
    Saqi Books
    Saqi Books is an independent UK publisher co-founded in 1984 by author and feminist Mai Ghoussoub to "print quality academic and general interest books on the Middle East". It now claims to be "the UK's largest publisher of Middle Eastern and Arabic titles"...

    . ISBN 0-86356-758-4
  • Smith, Stephen (1999), Cocaine Train: Travels in Colombia. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-64749-7 Tovar Pinzón, Hermes (1975), El movimiento campesino en Colombia durante los siglos XIX y XX. Second edition, Bogotá: Ediciones Libres. Trujillo Muñoz Augusto (2001), Descentralización, regionalización y autonomía local. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Vidal Perdomo Jaime (2001), La Región en la Organización Territorial del Estado. Bogotá: Universidad del Rosario.


External links




Related information