What is Colombia? Where is Colombia? And what all does Colombia have to offer? If you’ve been wanting to learn more about this fascinating country, we’ve got you covered!
What Is Colombia?
Named after Christoper Columbus, Colombia (officially known as the Republic of Colombia) is a country largely situated in northwestern South America, but with some land and a few territories in North America. It is made up of thirty-two departments, and one capital city, Botogá.
Colombia’s geography can be divided into six main natural regions: the Andes mountain range, Pacific coastal area, Llanos plains, Caribbean coastal region, and the Amazon rainforest area. The estimated population in 2019 is 50.43 million people, with the majority of the population living in the Andean highlands and Caribbean coast.
Additionally, Colombians also differentiate the country by three climatic zones — Tierra Caliente (hot land), Tierra Templada (temperate land), and Tierra Fria (cold land).
Colombia is one of the 17 countries in the world that is classified as “megadiverse”, ranking as the second most biodiverse country in the world. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, it has 314 different types of ecosystems. The number of bird species in Colombia alone is higher than in Europe and North America–combined!
Where is Colombia? Finding Colombia on a Map
Colombia is found on the northwestern side of South America, and is bordered by five different countries — Venezuela and Brazil in the east, Peru and Ecuador in the south, and Panama in the west. Since Panama bisects the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, Colombia is the only country in South America with coasts on both oceans.
The western landscape is dominated by the Andean cordillera and is where most people live. It is known for its three distinct parallel ranges: the non-volcanic Cordillera Occidental, the highest Cordillera Central, and the largest Cordillera Oriental.
The History of Colombia
Archaeologists believe that the first people arrived in Colombia about 20,000 years ago. They settled in the Magdalena Valley and grew to become the Chibcha civilization. Within the Chibchan Nations, Muisca and Tairona were the two main tribes that were socially and economically developed.
In 1525, Spain began its conquest of Colombia. They began by settling the coastal areas and eventually colonized Colombia to be part of the Spanish Empire. Rodrigo de Bastidas was the first to found a settlement in the territory and named it Santa Marta.
The formation of Santa Marta allowed the Europeans to continue their conquest. Cartagena was founded by Pedro de Heredia, in 1533, and became a main center of commerce and trade. Several years later, three expeditions set out from Santa Marta, Ecuador, and the Venezuelan coast as a joint effort to extend Spanish power from the coastal regions to the interior.
All three expeditions ended up at Santa Fe de Bogota after it was founded in 1538, which lead to a battle for control over this new territory. The battle lasted until 1550 when Spanish king Charles V named Santa Fe de Bogota the Royal Audience of the New Kingdom of Granada and placed it under the Viceroyalty of Peru.
This political status was maintained until the 18th century, when the territory became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Colombia would finally achieve Independence from Spain in 1819, forming the Gran Colombia Federation that would last until 1830. Afterwards, Colombia and Panama would emerge as the Republic of New Granada. In 1886, the Republic of Colombia was declared. Panama would secede in 1903, giving Colombia its present-day borders.
For decades, Colombia was a nation ravaged by violent conflicts between armed Guerrilla groups and drug cartels. This turmoil often overshadowed the rich resources and culture of Colombia, which has seen influences from Indigenous, Spanish, and African origins. Fortunately, the country has been making much progress in regards to safety and security.
Colombia is now becoming the top Latin American economic center, with a free market economy and friendly relations with many countries around the world. The United States is currently their largest trading partner. The main exports of Colombia include coffee, tropical fruits, flowers, oil, coal, gold, nickel, textiles, and clothing.
With such diverse cultures, unique landscapes, and biodiversity, Colombia is quickly rising its ranks as a popular tourist destination — especially for nature enthusiasts who want to experience a megadiverse country!
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