Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Colombia (IPA: /kəˈlʌm.bɪ.ə/) officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: , IPA: [reˈpuβ̞lika ð̞e koˈlombja]), is a country located in the northwestern region of South America. Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the North by the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Sea; and to the west by Panama and the Pacific Ocean. Besides the countries in South America, the Republic of Colombia is recognized to share maritime borders with the Caribbean countries of Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Central American countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica..
Colombia is the 26th largest nation in the world and the fourth-largest country in South America (after Brazil, Argentina, and Peru), with an area seven times greater than that of New England and more than twice that of France.


Main article: History of Colombia History
Circa 10000 BC, hunter-gatherer societies existed near present-day Bogotá (at "El Abra" and "Tequendama") which traded with one another and with cultures living in the Magdalena River Valley..

Spanish explorers made the first exploration of the Caribbean littoral in 1500 led by Rodrigo de Bastidas. Christopher Columbus navigated near the Caribbean in 1502. In 1508, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa started the conquest of the territory through the region of Urabá. In 1513, he was also 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. In 1510, the first European city in the American Continent was founded, Santa María la Antigua del Darién in what is today the Chocó Department. The territory's main population was made up of hundreds of tribes of the Chibchan and "Karib", currently known as the Caribbean people, whom the Spaniards conquered through warfare, while resulting disease, exploitation, and the conquest itself caused a tremendous demographic reduction among the indigenous. In the sixteenth century, Europeans began to bring slaves from Africa.

Since the beginning of the periods of Conquest and Colonization, there were several rebel movements under Spanish rule, most of them either being crushed or remaining 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 in 1804 (present day Haiti), who provided a non-negligible degree of support to the eventual leaders of this rebellion: Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander. Simón Bolívar had become the first president of Colombia and Francisco de Paula Santander was Vice President; when Simón Bolívar stepped down, Santander became the second president of Colombia. The rebellion finally succeeded in 1819 when the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada became the Republic of Greater Colombia organized as a Confederation along Ecuador and Venezuela (Panama was part of Colombia).

Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. At this time, the so-called "Department of Cundinamarca" adopted then the name "Nueva Granada", which it kept until 1856 when it became the "Confederación Granadina" (Grenadine Confederation). After a two year civil war in 1863, the "United States of Colombia" 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 civil war (1899 - 1902) which together with the United States intentions to influence in the area (specially the Panama Canal construction and control) led to the separation of the Department of Panama in 1903 and the establishment of it as a nation. Colombia engulfed in a year long war with Peru over a territorial dispute involving the Amazonas Department and its capital Leticia.

Political struggle

Main articles: La Violencia and El Bogotazo La Violencia

Main article: National Front (Colombia)Colombia The National Front

Main articles: Colombian armed conflict (1960s–present) and War on drugs Colombian armed conflict

Main articles: Geography of Colombia and Environmental issues in Colombia Geography

Main article: Politics of Colombia Politics

Main articles: Departments of Colombia and Municipalities of Colombia Departments, municipalities and districts

Main article: Economy of Colombia Economy

Main article: Tourism in Colombia Tourism

Amacayacu Park (Amazonas Department)
Colombian National Coffee Park (Montenegro, Quindío)
Nevado del Ruiz in Los Nevados National Park (near Manizales)
Cocora valley (Salento, Quindío)
Tayrona Park (Santa Marta)
Desierto de Tatacoa
Chicamocha Canyon National Park
Gorgona and Malpelo islands
Bogotá Botanical Garden (Bogotá)
Gold Museum (Bogotá) Ecotourism

Main article: Culture of Colombia Culture

Main article: Education in Colombia Education

Main article: Transportation in Colombia Demographics

Main article: Indigenous peoples in Colombia Indigenous peoples
Due to its strategic location Colombia has received several immigration waves during its history. Most of these immigrants have settled in the Caribbean Coast; Barranquilla (the largest city in the Colombian Caribbean Coast) has the largest population of Lebanese, Jewish, Italian and Gypsy descendants. There are also important communities of German and Chinese descendants in the Caribbean Coast.
The city of Cali has also the largest Asian community due to the its proximity to the Pacific Coast.
Arabs: Many Arab immigrants have arrived to Colombia from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. The Arabs settled mostly in the northern coast, in cities such as Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Maicao. Gradually they began to settle inland (Except Antioquia)
Jewish: Early Jewish settlers were coverted Jews (known as "Marranos") from Spain. In the years prior to WWII there was a second wave of Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution from the Nazis. Most Colombian Jews live in Barranquilla, Medellin, Bogotá, and Cali. There are only 25 synagogues throughout the entire country.
Gypsies: Gypsies came during colonial times, often forced by the Spanish to move to South America. Gypsies also came during World War I and World War II. Most of them settled in the metropolitan area of Barranquilla.
Spanish: Besides the descendants of the conquistadores, who mixed with the indigenous peoples, there was a modest wave of Spanish immigrants fleeing persecution from the Fascists during and after the Spanish Civil War.
Italians: Today they represent the immigrant population in Colombia, mostly in cities such as Cartagena (where the largest community lives), and Barranquilla.
Germans: Also in the 19th century Germans arrived to Santander. Many German groups arrived in Colombia after World War I and many more after World War II. Due to anti-immigration measures by the government, immigration ceased somewhat after 1939. Many of the descendants live in Eje Cafetero, Antioquia, and in the northern coast of the country.
Afro-Colombians Being the first country in the Americas to offer full rights to citizens of African descent, many Africans settled here during the late 19th/early 20th century.

Immigrant groups
The census data in Colombia does not take into account ethnicity, so percentages are basically estimates from other sources and can vary from one another. Statistics reveal that Colombians are predominantly Roman Catholic and overwhelmingly speakers of Spanish, and that a majority of them are the result of the a mixture of Europeans, Africans, Amerindians.
58% of the population is mestizo, or of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry, while 20% is of white European ancestry. Another 14% is mulatto, or of mixed black African and white European ancestry, while 4% is of black African ancestry and 3% are zambos, of mixed black African and Amerindian ancestry. Pure indigenous Amerindians comprise 1 percent of the population.
More than two-thirds of all Colombians live in urban areas—a figure significantly higher than the world average. The literacy rate (94 percent) in Colombia is also well above the world average, and the rate of population growth is slightly higher than the world average. Also, a large proportion of Colombians are young, largely because of recent decreases in the infant mortality rate. While 33 percent of the people are 14 years of age or younger, just 4 percent are aged 65 or older.

Ethnic groups
See also: Status of religious freedom in Colombia
The National Administrative Department of Statistics does not collect religious statistics, and accurate reports are hard to obtain. Based on various studies, more than 95% of the population adheres to Christianity [2], in which a huge segment of the population, between 81% and 90%, practices Roman Catholicism. About 1% of Colombians practice indigenous religions. Under 1% practice Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Despite strong numbers of adherents, around 60% of respondents to a poll by El Tiempo report that they do not practice their faith actively.

See also: Security issues in Colombia and Human rights in Colombia
Colombia has become notorious for its illicit drug production, kidnappings, and murder rate. In the 1990s, it became the world's largest producer of cocaine and coca derivatives. This disputes the Colombian claim that coca will be eradicated in 2008.

Amnesty International summarizes in its Annual Report 2006: "Although the number of killings and kidnappings in some parts of the country fell, serious human rights abuses committed by all parties to the conflict remained at critical levels. Of particular concern were reports of extrajudicial executions carried out by the security forces, killings of civilians by armed opposition groups and paramilitaries, and the forced displacement of civilian communities. More than 3.5 million civilians out of the country's 40 million people have been displaced during the last two decades, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. .

Human rights situation

Colombian Armed Conflict
Communications in Colombia
Departments of Colombia
Education in Colombia
Foreign relations of Colombia
Military of Colombia
Water supply and sanitation in Colombia
List of Colombians
Happy Planet Index - in which Colombia ranks number two (by 2007) See also


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