Colombia n : a republic in northwestern South America; the major legal crop is coffee but cocaine is also a major export [syn: Republic of Colombia]
- Colombian adjective
- Bosnian: Kolumbija
- Breton: Kolombia
- Chinese: 哥伦比亚 (Gēlúnbǐyà)
- Czech: Kolumbie
- Danish: Colombia
- Dutch: Colombia, Colombië
- Esperanto: Kolombio
- Finnish: Kolumbia
- French: Colombie
- German: Kolumbien
- Greek: Κολομβία (Kolomvía)
- Hebrew: קולומביה (qolombia)
- Hungarian: Kolumbia
- Interlingua: Colombia
- Italian: Colombia
- Japanese: コロンビア (Koronbia)
- Korean: 콜롬비아 (k'ol'lombia)
- Norwegian: Colombia
- Polish: Kolumbia
- Portuguese: Colômbia
- Romanian: Columbia
- Russian: Колумбия
- Spanish: Colombia
- Swedish: Colombia
- Turkish: Kolombiya
- colombiano adjective
distinguish Columbia Colombia () officially the Republic of Colombia (, ), is a country located in northwestern 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; to the north-west by Panama; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. Colombia also shares maritime borders with the Caribbean countries of Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the Central American countries of Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Colombia is the 26th largest nation in the world and the fourth-largest in South America (after Brazil, Argentina, and Peru), with an area more than twice that of France. It also has the third-largest population in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico.
The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous tribes which had migrated from North and Central America, including the Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona. To the south lay the Inca Empire. The Spanish arrived in 1499, and initiated a period of conquest and colonisation which ultimately led to the creation of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (comprising what is now Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama) with its capital at Bogotá. Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 "Gran Colombia" had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. Modern day Colombia, with Panama, emerged as the Republic of New Granada. The new nation experimented with federalism as the Granadine Confederation (1858), and then the United States of Colombia (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. Panama seceded in 1903.
Colombia has a long tradition of constitutional government, and the Conservative and Liberal parties, founded in 1843 and 1848 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 (1899-1902) and La Violencia, beginning in 1948. Since the 1960s, government forces have been engaged in conflict with left-wing insurgents and illegal right-wing paramilitaries. Fuelled by the cocaine trade, this escalated dramatically in the 1990s. However, the insurgents lack the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government, and in recent years the violence has been decreasing. Insurgents continue attacks against civilians, and large swathes of the countryside remain under guerrilla influence, but the Colombian government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its municipalities.
Colombia is a standing middle power with the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico. It is also one of the largest manufacturers in South America. Colombia is very ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendents of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonisers, African slaves and twentieth-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East has produced a rich cultural heritage. This has also been influenced by Colombia's incredibly varied geography. The majority of the urban centres are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Ecologically, Colombia is considered to be among 17 of the most megadiverse countries in the world.
The word "Colombia" comes from the name of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish, Cristoforo Colombo in Italian). It was conceived by the revolutionary Francisco de Miranda as a reference to all the New World, especially to those territories and colonies under Spanish and Portuguese rule. The name was then adopted by the Republic of Colombia of 1819 formed out of the territories of the old Viceroyalty of New Granada (modern day Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador).
In 1830, when Venezuela and Ecuador separated, the Cundinamarca region that remained became a new country: the Republic of New Granada. In 1858 New Granada officially changed its name to the Granadine Confederation, then in 1863 the United States of Colombia, before finally adopting its present name — the Republic of Colombia — in 1886.
Geography and climate
Colombia is the 26th largest nation in the world and the fourth-largest country in South America. Located in the northwestern region of South America, it 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; to the north-west by Panama; and to the west by 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, and Costa Rica. Colombia has more physical diversity packed into its borders than any other area of comparable size in Latin America. Colombia has the highest diversity of birds and amphibians of any country on earth, with 1,815 species and 583 species, respectively, known to date. The country is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of the world subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Geologically Colombia is formed by two great territorial zones, one submerged in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean sea covering a total area of 828,660 km² and the second is the emerged land which is formed by the Andes mountain range and the Llanos plains that are shared with Venezuela and cover an area of some 1'143,748 km². Colombian surface features form complicated land patterns. The western third of the country is the most complex, starting at the shore of the Pacific Ocean in the west and moving eastward at a latitude of 5 degrees north, a diverse sequence of features is encountered; In the extreme west are the very narrow and discontinuous Pacific coastal lowlands, which are backed by the Serranía de Baudó, one of the lowest and narrowest of Colombia's mountain ranges. Next is the broad region of the Río Atrato/Río San Juan lowland.
The western mountain range, the Cordillera Occidental, is a moderately high range with peaks reaching up to about 13,000 ft (4,000 m). The Cauca River Valley, an important agricultural region with several large cities on its borders, separates the Cordillera Occidental from the massive Cordillera Central. Several snow-clad volcanoes in the Cordillera Central have summits that rise above 18,000 ft (5,500 m). The valley of the Magdalena River, a major transportation artery, separates the Cordillera Central from the main eastern range, the Cordillera Oriental. The peaks of the Cordillera Oriental are moderately high. This range differs from Colombia's other mountain ranges in that it contains several large basins. To the east of the country, the sparsely populated, flat to gently rolling eastern lowlands called Llanos orientales part of the Orinoco river basin and the jungle covered Amazon region part of the Amazon river basin (both basins called eastern plains) cover almost 60 percent of the country's total land area. The northern plains are mostly part of the Caribbean natural region which includes the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, the highest mountain by the sea and the Guajira Peninsula, mostly arid with another separate formation from the Andes mountain range, the Serranía de Macuira to form the Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub.
The climate of Colombia is determined by its proximity to the Earth's Equator predominating a tropical and isothermal climate, presenting variations within five natural regions and depending on the altitude; determined by mountain climate, temperature, humidity, and winds; influenced by the trade winds and precipitation which is influenced by the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Colombia is also affected by the effects of the El Niño and La Niña.
Temperatures generally decrease about 3.5 °F (2 °C) for every 1,000-foot (300-m) increase in altitude above sea level, presenting perpetual snowy peaks to lower hot lands. Rainfall varies by location and is present in two seasons (two dry and two rainy) in Colombia presenting one of the highest rainfalls in the world in the Pacific region. Rainfall in parts of the Guajira Peninsula seldom exceeds 30 in (75 cm) per year. Colombia's rainy southeast, however, is often drenched by more than 200 in (500 cm) of rain per year. Rainfall in most of the rest of the country runs between these two extremes.
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).
Post-Independence and republicanism
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 of America's intentions to influence in the area (especially 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. 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 ("The Violence"). Its cause was mainly because of mounting tensions between the two leading political parties, which subsequently ignited after the assassination of the Liberal Presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948. This assassination caused riots in Bogotá and became known as El Bogotazo, the violence from these riots spread through out 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 deposed the President of Colombia in a coup d'etat, and negotiated with the guerrillas, and then under the military junta of General Gabriel París Gordillo.
After Rojas deposition the two political parties Colombian Conservative Party and Colombian Liberal Party agreed to the creation of a "National Front", whereby the Liberal and Conservative parties would govern jointly. The presidency would be determined by an alternating conservative and liberal president 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 injustices continued and many guerrillas were formally created such as the FARC, ELN and M-19 to fight the government and political apparatus with influences from Cold War doctrines.
Emerging in the late 1970s, powerful and violent drug cartels developed during the 1980s and 1990s. The Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel, 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.
The new Colombian Constitution of 1991 was ratified after being drafted by the Constituent Assembly of Colombia. The constitution included key provisions on political, ethnic, human and gender rights. The new constitution initially prohibited the extradition of Colombian nationals. There were accusations of lobbying by drug cartels in favor of this prohibition. The cartels had previously promoted a violent campaign against extradition, leading to many terrorist attack and mafia style executions. They also tried to influence the government and political structure of Colombia by means of corruption, as in the case of the 8000 Process scandal.
In recent years, the country has continued to be plagued by the effects of the drug trade, guerrilla insurgencies like FARC and paramilitary groups such as the AUC (later demobilized, though paramilitarism remains active), which along with other minor factions have engaged in a bloody internal armed conflict. President Andrés Pastrana and the FARC attempted to negotiate a solution to the conflict between 1998 and 2002 but failed to do so. President Andrés Pastrana also began to implement the Plan Colombia initiative, with the dual goal of ending the armed conflict and promoting a strong anti-narcotic strategy.
During the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, who was elected on the promise of applying military pressure on the FARC and other criminal groups, some security indicators have improved, showing a decrease in reported kidnappings (from 3700 in the year 2000 to 800 in 2005) and a decrease of more than 48% in homicides between July 2002 and May 2005 and of the terrorist guerrila itself reduced from 16.900 insurgents to 8.900 insurgents. It is argued that these improvements have favored economic growth and tourism. The 2006–2007 Colombian parapolitics scandal emerged due to the revelations and judicial implications of past and present links between paramilitary groups, mainly the AUC, and some government officials and many politicians, most of them allied to the governing administration.
Government, law and politics
The Government of Colombia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic as established in the Colombian Constitution of 1991. The Colombian government is divided into three branches of power; the executive, legislative and judicial with special control institutions and electoral institutions. The President of Colombia is the highest representative of the executive branch of government in Colombia and is also the head of state and head of government with supreme administrative authority, followed by the Vice President and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Colombia.
At a provincial level the executive is managed by department governors, municipal mayors at municipal level and local administrators for smaller administrative subdivisions such as corregidor for corregimientos. The legislative branch of government in Colombia is represented by the National Congress of Colombia which is formed by an upper house the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives. At a provincial level the legislative branch is represented by department assemblies and a municipal level with municipal councils. Both the legislative and executive branches share most of the government power while the judicial branch of Colombia functions as an independent body from the other two branches which are vested with a shared power. The judicial branch under a adversarial system is represented by the Supreme Court of Justice which is the highest entity in this branch but shared in responsibility with the Council of State, Constitutional Court and the Superior Council of the Judicature which also have jurisdictional and regional courts.
Colombia is divided into 32 departments and one capital district which is treated as a department. There are in total 10 districts assigned to cities in Colombia including Bogotá, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Tunja, Cúcuta, Popayán, Buenaventura, Tumaco and Turbo. Colombia is also subdivided into some municipalities which form departments, each with a municipal seat capital city assigned. Colombia is also subdivided into corregimientos which form municipalities. Each department has a local government which is headed by a department governor and its own department assembly elected for a period of four years in a regional election. Each municipality also headed by a municipal mayor and a municipal council. And for corregimientos there will be an elected corregidor or local leader.