The Republic of Colombia is a country in north-western South America. It is bound by earth, to the north and north west by the Caribbean Sea, to the east by Venezuela and Brazil, to the south by Ecuador and Peru, and to the west by Panama and the Pacific Ocean. And is also bounded by sea with Costa Rica at the west, with Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Honduras, at northwest; República Dominicana, Jamaica and Haiti at north.
Main article: History of Colombia
Spanish explorers arrived in the area around 1500, at which time they encountered many Chibchan peoples who they subjugated through warfare, disease, exploitation, and conquest. They soon established settlements that eventually grew into the provinces which where part of the Captaincy General of New Granada. As it became a Viceroyalty in 1717, some other provinces of northwestern South America came under its jurisdiction. An independence movement sprang up around 1810 that finally succeeded in 1819 when the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada became the Republic of Gran Colombia.
Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830 and the remaining Department of Cundinamarca was renamed New Granada until 1856 when it became the Granadine Confederation until 1863 when it became the United States of Colombia until 1886 when it became the Republic of Colombia. Internal divisions remained, occasionally igniting civil war and contributing to the US-sponsored secession of Panama in 1903. The country continues to be plagued by guerrilla insurgents such as FARC, counter-insurgency paramilitary groups such as AUC and the effects of the influential drug trade, which are hampering political and economic reforms and leading to disruptions of public life and international concern.
Main article: Politics of Colombia
Colombia is a republic where the executive branch dominates government structure. The president, elected together with the vice-president by popular vote for a single four-year term, functions as both head of state and head of government.
Colombia's bicameral parliament is the Congress or Congreso, which consists of the 102-seat Senate and the 166-seat Chamber of Representatives. Members of both houses are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms.
The Colombian judicial system has undergone significant reforms in the 1990s.
Main article: Departments of Colombia
Colombia is divided into 32 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento):
Additionally, there is one capital district (distrito capital), Bogotá D.C..
Main article: Geography of Colombia
The western half of Colombia is dominated by the Andes, which split into three great mountain ranges, the Western, Central and Eastern Cordillera. The eastern half is characterised by lowland plains, often densily forested, which contain many rivers . Colombia controls the islands of Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia in the Caribbean and the other in the Pacific Ocean.
The local climate is tropical along both coasts and in the eastern plains, whereas the mountain ranges and highlands can be considerably cooler. Colombia's largest city is its capital Bogotá, other major cities include Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, and Barranquilla. Colombia is the only South American country to touch both The Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
Main article: Economy of Colombia
Colombia's economy suffered from weak domestic demand, austere government budgets, and a difficult security situation. The current government faces economic challenges ranging from pension reform to reduction of unemployment. Two of Colombia's leading exports, oil and coffee, face an uncertain future; new exploration is needed to offset declining oil production, while coffee harvests and prices are depressed.
Problems in public security are a concern for Colombian business leaders, who are calling for progress in the government's peace negotiations with insurgent groups. Colombia is looking for continued support from the international community to boost economic and peace prospects.
Main article: Demographics of Colombia
Colombia has a diverse population that reflects its colourful history and the peoples that have populated her from ancient, to colonial and modern times. The historic amalgam of three main groups; indigenous Amerindians, Spanish colonists, and imported African slaves, are the basis of Colombia's current demographics.
Race mixing between these three was widespread and has produced distinct groups that now constitute much of the population. The country's largest ethnic group are known as mestizos (58%) and are the result of intermingling between Spaniards and Amerindians. Whites are mainly descendants of the Spanish colonists, and constitute the largest minority (20%) followed closely by mulattos (14%) which are descended from the unions of Spaniards and African slaves. The remainder of the population is comprised of unmixed descendants of African slaves (4%) and zambos who descend from the mixture of African slaves and Amerindians (3%). Today, only about 1% of the people can be identified as fully Amerindian on the basis of language and customs. The predominant religion in Colombia is Roman Catholicism.
Main article: Culture of Colombia