Colombia

Article

July 6, 2022

Colombia (Spanish: Colombia, pronounced: [koˈlombja] (listen)), officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: ? República de Colombia), is a constitutional republic in northwestern South America. Colombia borders on the east with Venezuela and Brazil; to the south with Ecuador and Peru; to the north with the Caribbean Sea, to the northwest with Panama; and to the west with the Pacific Ocean. Colombia also shares maritime borders with Venezuela, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. With a population of over 47 million people, Colombia has the 28th largest population in the world and the second largest in South America, after Brazil. Colombia is the third most populous country with Spanish as an official language (after Mexico and Spain), and has the fourth largest Spanish-speaking community in the world after Mexico, the United States and Spain. The country is ethnically very diverse and the interaction between the descendants of the first indigenous inhabitants, Spanish settlers, Africans brought as slaves and 20th century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East produced a rich cultural heritage. This was also influenced by Colombia's highly varied geography. Most urban centers are located in the Andes, but Colombia's territory also encompasses the Amazon rainforest, tropical grasslands and the coasts of the Caribbean and Pacific. Ecologically, Colombia is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world (those with the highest biodiversity per unit area). The territory that is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous nations such as the Chibchas, Quimbaya and Tairona. The Spaniards arrived in 1499, began a period of conquest and colonization that resulted in the death or enslavement of around 90% of the native population, and then created the Viceroyalty of New Granada (which comprised the present-day territories of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and the northwest region of Brazil), with its capital in Bogotá. Independence from Spanish rule was achieved in 1819, but around 1830 "Gran Colombia" broke up with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. The current countries Colombia and Panama then emerged as the Republic of New Grenada. The new nation experienced a federalist political system during the Grenadine Confederation (1858) and then in the United States of Colombia (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. Panama seceded in 1903 under pressure to comply financial responsibilities to the US government for the construction of the Panama Canal. Colombia has a long tradition of constitutional government. The Liberal and Conservative 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 (1899-1902) and during La Violencia, beginning in 1948. Since the 1960s, government forces, left-wing rebels and right-wing paramilitaries have been involved in the continent's most enduring armed conflicts. Fueled by the cocaine trade, the conflict grew dramatically in the 1980s. However, in the 2000s, violence declined significantly. Many paramilitary groups demobilized as part of a controversial peace process with the government, and the guerrillas lost control in many areas where they once held sway. Colombia for many years had one of the highest homicide rates in the world, being reduced by almost half between 1993 and 2005. Killings of unionists have also been significantly reduced since the 1990s, but unionists continue to be threatened and murdered, although at a slower rate than the general population. Currently, the country is a medium