Colombia (officially called Republic of Colombia), is a big country in South America. It is in the northwest part of that Continent and it has an area of 1.141.748 km² (440,839 sq mi). It is the only South American country with coasts on both oceans (Pacific and Atlantic). Colombia has an extension of 9m² in those oceans. The full name of the country in Spanish is República de Colombia; in English, it would be "Republic of Colombia". The name "Colombia" is pronounced /kəˈlʌm.bɪ.ə/. It is different from Columbia, the name of many places in United States of America.
The countries that have borders on the continent with Colombia are: Venezuela (east), Brazil (southeast), Peru (south), Ecuador (southwest) and Panama (west). The countries that have borders with Colombia on the sea are: Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti and Dominican Republic.
The capital of Colombia is Bogotá. The second major city is Medellín, a big industrial center. The third largest city is Cali, home of many multinational companies. The most important city of the country on the Caribbean coast is Barranquilla. It was also the first national port. Cartagena de Indias has a great Spanish wall of the 17th Century and an old town with buildings aged 500 years. After these cities comes Bucaramanga, a large city near Venezuela's border, which holds the center of the textile industry in Colombia.
Meaning[change | change source]
In 1819, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama declared independence from Spain, and formed a country called "Gran Colombia". Venezuela and Ecuador separated in 1830. Panama continued to be part of Colombia until 1903, at which point it proclaimed independence. The official language is Spanish, but there are many dialects spoken by minorities.
Climate[change | change source]
Colombia's temperature changes with the altitude, and the temperature is different by region. The regions around the Andes are colder than the coast, which is lower. Because of the many altitudes, Colombia has many different fruits, vegetables and kinds of animals. It has many valleys, beaches, plains, mountains and forests like the Amazon Rain Forest.
The top of some of the mountains in Colombia are so cold that people can ski over the equator. The lower mountains have warmer climates. The seashores are cooled by ocean breezes. At sea level near the equator it is hot.
Rivers are important as waterways in the land for shipping things. One of the most important rivers in Colombia is the Magdalena-Cauca. The Magdelena River divides the eastern and center mountains. It makes a fertile valley. The Cauca River divides the center mountain range and the western ridge, making another great valley. The Cauca is really a part of the Magdalena. However, the two do not meet until a few miles before the Magdalena goes into the Caribbean Sea.
Demographics[change | change source]
The population of Colombia was approximately 43 million as of 2005. The ethnic groups of the population are:
Economy[change | change source]
Up to 49.6% of the population is living below the poverty line.
Security[change | change source]
There are several guerilla groups in Colombia, the FARC being the most powerful, a guerilla group responsible for kidnappings, murders, attacks, and drug-dealing. Drug dealing is a problem the government has been trying to fight. This creates violence in the cities. With Operation: Jaque, Ingrid Betancourt, three Americans, and 11 soldiers were rescued from the FARC.
Transport[change | change source]
Most parts of Colombia are modern and the country has many roads. All major Colombian cities have airports and there are many ports on both oceans (Pacific and Atlantic). Because Colombia is a huge country and there are many mountains, airports are very important in the country. There are some regions like the Amazon Forest and Dariend, where the most important way of transportation is by the rivers.
- Roads: The Pan American Highway in South America begins in Colombia. You can go as far as Tierra de Fuego in Chile using that road. Most of the Colombian cities are connected by road in Colombia. The most important roads are the Bogotá-Medellín Highway, the Bogotá-Cali Highway, the Bogotá-Cucuta Highway, the Bogotá-Barranquilla Highway and many others connecting big cities like Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena de Indias with other important centers. You can go by road from Bogotá to Caracas, Venezuela and Quito, Ecuador. The major cities have bus stations.
- Airports: They are very important in Colombia and all the main cities have their own airports. The El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá is the most important. The Palmaseca International Airport in Cali is the second most important. Other important airports are the ones of Medellín, Barranquilla, San Andrés and Cartagena de Indias. The Colombian airports have international connections with most of the South American capitals, North America and Europe. The main Colombian airline is Avianca and it is the second oldest world airline and one of the most important in Latin America.
- Ports: Colombia has coasts on both oceans - Atlantic and Pacific - and it is one of the first world water reserve because it has many rivers and lakes. The longest rivers are the Amazon, Magdalena, Cauca, and the Atrato. The main ports on the Atlantic coast are Barranquilla, which was the first Colombian port, Cartagena de Indias and Santa Marta. There are other ones like Rioacha and Turbo. The ports on the Pacific coast are Buenaventura and Tumaco. The port of the San Andres Island is also one of the most important for the country in the Caribbean and Antillean Sea. The city of Leticia is a very important river port on the Amazon river.
- Train: The National Train was very important to Colombia during the 20th century, but it was forgotten when roads and airports were developed. Today the railways in Colombia are used more for tour visits, and they are not modern.
- Transportation in the cities: The major Colombian cities have a very good system of transportation. There are public buses that connect the suburbs to the center of the cities. There are many taxi companies in Colombia. There are also very modern urban transports in the main cities like Transmilenio in Bogotá, the Metro in Medellín, and similar proposals in Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena de Indias and many others that are being developed.
Cities[change | change source]
- See also: List of cities in Colombia
Colombia also has some very well known cities.
- Bogotá is the second largest capital city of South America after Buenos Aires and the third largest city after Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. It is also one of the highest capital cities of the world, 2640 meters above sea level. It has a very active cultural, political, industrial and commercial life. Bogotá also has many international meetings, seminars, NGOs, organizations, universities, telecommunication centers and conventions. It is in the Andes. Many famous Colombians come from Bogotá like Rafael Pombo, José Asunción Silva and Juan Pablo Montoya.
- Medellín is the second largest city of Colombia. At the end of the 20th Century it was known as the "most violent city of the world" because it was the hometown of Pablo Escobar, the leader of the Colombian Mafia. Now Medellín is safer and has become a very beautiful city. It is a very important industrial center, the first commercial area of the country and a leader in health care and medicine. Many foreigners come to Medellín for health services. It is in the Andes and it is known as the "City of the Eternal Spring" because it has nice weather. Many famous Colombians come from Medellín like the singer Juanes, the soccer player René Higuita, the artist Fernando Botero and many others.
- Cali is the third largest city. It is very famous for its plantations of sugar cane. Cali is known as the "World Capital of Salsa". In Cali there are many skillful salsa dancers and very important Salsa groups. Cali is also a very modern city. It is an industrial city and its airport is the second in Colombia. Near Cali is the port city of Buenaventura in the Pacific Ocean. Cali is in a valley of the Andes. The name of the Valley is Cauca because it is crossed by the Cauca River.
- Barranquilla is the fourth largest city and it was the first city in Colombia on the Caribbean Sea. Barranquilla is famous for its trade and international connections because it has a big port. The Colombian singer Shakira is from Barranquilla.
- Cartagena de Indias is the most important tourist center in Colombia on the Caribbean Sea. It is also a very beautiful city. Many tourist come to visit the city.
- Bucaramanga is near the Colombian border with Venezuela. This city is a great destination for travelers due to its Spanish history and its technological & urban development; it is a very popular city.
- Eje Cafetero (Coffee Growing Axis) is the name of the region where coffee is grown in Colombia. There are three important cities: Pereira, Manizales and Armenia.
Science[change | change source]
Colombia has made many advances in medicine. Many foreigners come to the country to get health services, such as organ transplants or plastic surgery. Doctor Manuel Elkin Patarroyo of Colombia discovered a medicine against malaria. He donated his discovery to be used in Africa and Latin America. He did not want to make business of it, instead he wanted to use it to help people.
History[change | change source]
Before the Spaniards[change | change source]
The land where Colombia now stands has been home to people for more than 20,000 years. The first people had many groups, cultures, and languages. There are many tools, caves, and things of those peoples. In Colombia, the peoples were similar to those of Asia, because the scientists say that the first men came to America from Siberia or South East Asia more than 50,000 years ago. The peoples of Colombia were called Arawak, Caribe, and Chibcha. But they have many other groups. The most famous were the Muiscas. El Dorado legend comes from the Muiscas: the king of the Muiscas used to bath in the Guatavita Lake and he used a lot of gold for it. The Spaniards heard about and the people told them that there was a great golden city somewhere. Since then they started to look for El Dorado. The International Airport of Bogotá is called El Dorado International Airport, because the legend was born in Colombia. The descendants of the first peoples of Colombia live integrated with others. Some groups live in the forest, but many live in countryside and in the cities.
The colony[change | change source]
The Spaniards lead by Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Columbus saw the coasts of Venezuela, Colombia and Panama and he gave them his own name. But it was Alonso de Ojeda the first to do an exploration in the area of Gulf of Darién. After that the Spaniards founded the first European cities in the American continent: Santa Marta in 1525 and Cartagena de Indias in 1533. It was from Colombia that the Spaniards conquered the Incas of Peru. They founded the city of Popayán in 1536 and they conquered the Confederation of the Muiscas. In Bacatá, the capital of the Muiscas, the Spaniards founded the city of Santa Fe in 1538. In 1550 the Spaniards declared the territory as a colony and its capital was Santa Fe de Bogotá, but in the first decades it depended from Peru. Soon after, it was declared a Viceroyalty.
The independence[change | change source]
Antonio Nariño was one of the most important persons to lead a movement for the independence of Colombia. He was a politician, journalist and soldier. Simon Bolivar was also another one of the most important person to lead a movement for the independence of Colombia. He was a president and a colonel.
Politics[change | change source]
On Saturday, August 7, 2010, Juan Manuel Santos became Colombia's latest elected president. Santos won the election on June 20 by a landslide. He promised to "preside over a government of national unity that will bring social prosperity for all Colombians" 
Departments[change | change source]
Colombia is divided into 32 departments and one capital district. The capital district is treated as a department. Departments are divided into municipalities. Municipalities are divided 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. Each corregimiento by an elected corregidor, or local leader.
Resources[change | change source]
Colombia is known for its coffee, coal, and emeralds. It is also the biggest supplier of plantains to the United States. There are a few armed conflicts in Colombia. Most rebel groups finance their operations with the trade of illegal drugs (mostly cocaine).
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
Bibliography[change | change source]
- Dane 2005.
- CIA world fact book. "Colombia". CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/co.html. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
- Forero, Juan (2010-08-08). "Juan Manuel Santos takes oath as Colombia's new president". washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post Company. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/07/AR2010080702709.html. Retrieved 2010-08-13. ""I will preside over a government of national unity that will bring social prosperity for all Colombians""