Colombia, a republic in South America, its in the northwestern part of the continent, and bounded on the north by Panama and the Caribbean Sea, on the east by Venezuela and Brazil, on the south by Peru and Ecuador, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Colombia is the only country of South America with coasts on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The total land area of the country is 1,141,748 sq km (440,831 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Bogotá. “The distinguishing topographical feature of Colombia is the Andes mountain chain, its in the central and western parts of the country, and stretches north through south across almost its entire length. “The Andes comprise three principal and parallel ranges: the Cordillera Oriental, the Cordillera Central, and the Cordillera Occidental. On the Caribbean coast is the isolated mountain mass known as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which includes Colombia’s highest point at Pico Cristóbal Colón (5776 m/18,950 ft).” “The Cordillera Central contains the volcanic peaks of Huila (5750 m/ 18,865 ft) and Tolima (5616 m/ 18,425 ft).
About 240 km (about 150 mi) south of the Caribbean, the Cordillera Central descends to marshy jungle. The cordillera peaks are perpetually covered with snow; the timberline in these mountains lies at about 3000 m (about 10,000 ft).” East of the Cordillera Oriental are vast reaches of torrid lowlands, thinly populated and only partly explored. The southern portion of this region, called selvas (rain forests), is thickly forested and is drained by the Caquetá River and other tributaries of the Amazon River. The northern and greater part of the region comprises vast plains, or llanos, and is traversed by the Meta and other tributaries of the Orinoco River. Between the cordilleras are high plateaus, a number of which are about 2400 m (about 8000 ft) above sea level, and fertile valleys, traversed by the principal rivers of the country. The principal river of Colombia, the Magdalena, flows north between the Cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera Central, across practically the entire country, emptying into the Caribbean near Barranquilla after a course of about 1540 km (about 960 mi).
The Cauca, also an important means of communication, flows north between the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Occidental, merging with the Magdalena about 320 km (about 200 mi) from the Caribbean. In the west the Patía cuts its way through the Andes to empty into the Pacific. The coastline of Colombia extends for about 1760 km (about 1090 mi) along the Caribbean and for about 1450 km (about 900 mi) along the Pacific. River mouths along the coasts are numerous, but no good natural harbors exist. The climate in Colombia depends on the elevation of the land. Where the rivers are the temperature is around 24 degrees to 27 degrees C and 75 through 80 degrees. Three months out of the year it rains and in some parts of Colombia it is very dry. Colombia has many mineral resources in the country. Colombia is the major world source of emeralds. Other good minerals are petroleum and natural gas, coal, gold, siler, iron. ore, salt, platinum, and a little bit of uranium. Colombia is a beautiful place that has coconut trees and mangroves that grow along the Caribbean coast.
The parts that are forest have trees like mahogany, lignum vitae, oak, walnut, cedar, pine, and different kinds of balsam. Tropical plants also had out making rubber, chicle, cinchona, vanilla, sarsaparilla, ginger, gum copal, ipecac, tonka beans, and castor beans. The animals that live in Colombia are jaguars, pumas, tapirs, peccaries, anteaters, sloths, armadillos, and different kinds of monkeys and red deer. There were a lot of Alligators but they are hunted a lot and now there are only a few. There are snakes and birds like condors, vultures, toucans, parrots, cockatoos, cranes, storks, and hummingbirds. “Colombia contains several fertile low-lying valleys, but only about 2 percent of the country’s land area, chiefly at higher elevations, is cultivated. Soil exhaustion and erosion, largely the result of slash-and-burn farming methods, are problems in agricultural regions.” The population in Colombia is diversified. About 58 percent of the people are mestizo (of mixed Spanish and Native American ancestry), about 20 percent are of unmixed European ancestry, and about 14 percent are mulatto (of mixed black and white ancestry). The remaining 8 percent is made up of blacks, Native Americans, and people of mixed race.
The population of Colombia (1997 estimate) is 37,852,050, so the country has an overall population density of 33 persons per sq km (86 per sq mi). “Some 73 percent of the population is classified as urban.” “The principal centers of population are in the Magdalena and Cauca river valleys and in the Caribbean coastal region. The concordat of 1973 preserves a privileged status for Roman Catholicism; about 95 percent of the people are Roman Catholic. Small Protestant and Jewish minorities exist. The official language of Colombia is Spanish, although a new constitution adopted in 1991 recognizes the languages of ethnic groups in their territories and provides for bilingual education.” Colombia is divided into 32 departments and one capital district. The capital and largest city is Bogotá, an industrial center with a population (1993 estimate) of 5,025,989. Other important commercial cities include the trading and textile centers of Medellín (1,594,967) and Cali (1,655,699); Barranquilla (1,033,951), which provides both a seaport and a major international airport; and Cartagena (707,092), a seaport and oil pipeline terminal. Colombia elementary education is free and kids go for five years. About 91 percent of all Colombians over age 15 could read and write by 1995.
Thats because Colombia has tried to change the people and make them smart. “Courses in Roman Catholicism are compulsory in all public schools, most of which are controlled by the Roman Catholic church. Protestant churches maintain a number of schools, chiefly in Bogotá.” “The national government finances secondary- and university-level schools and maintains primary schools in municipalities and departments that cannot afford to do so.” In 1995 some 4.7 million pupils annually attended primary schools; 3.0 million students attended secondary schools, including vocational and teacher-training institutions. In the late 1980s Colombia had some 235 institutions of higher education; total enrollment in 1996 was 644,200. Among the largest universities are the National University of Colombia (1867) in Bogotá (parts of which date from the 16th century), the University of Cartagena (1827) in Cartagena, the University of Antioquia (1822) in Medellín, and the University of Nariño (1827) in Pasto.” The heritage of the Spanish colonial period is more noticeably preserved in Colombia than in any other South American country, and family life and dress often still conform to traditional norms. Although Colombia is a country of many racial mixtures, its culture is diversified more by region than by ethnicity.
The Native American civilization was rapidly assimilated into that of the Spanish settlers, whose language nearly all Colombians speak today. In the early 1990s the country undertook an economic reform program that opened its economy to international trade and investment, and it is the only country in Latin America that maintained scheduled payments on loans during a debt crisis in the late 1980s. For these reasons the country enjoys one of the highest credit ratings in the region. The central government budget included revenues of $11.2 billion (1994) and expenditures of $7.3 billion (1993). The gross domestic product (GDP) in 1996 was $85.2 billion, or about $2280 per capita. Coffee is Colombia’s main crop. Although Colombia is second only to Brazil in the annual volume of coffee produced and is the world’s leading producer of mild coffee, the crop was bypassed by petroleum in the mid-1990s as the country’s largest source of foreign income. In the mid-1970s coffee accounted for 80 percent of Colombia’s export earnings; by 1995 coffee only brought in 25 percent of the nation’s export earnings.
The coastal waters and many rivers and lakes of Colombia provide a variety of fish, notably trout, tarpon, sailfish, and tuna. Petroleum and gold are Colombia’s chief mineral products. More other minerals are extracted, including silver, emeralds, platinum, copper, nickel, coal, and natural gas. The currency is the Colombian peso (1037 pesos equal U.S.$1; 1996). In 1903 the Colombian Senate refused to ratify the Hay-Herrán Treaty, which provided for the lease of a strip of territory across the Isthmus of Panama to the United States for the purpose of building a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. A revolt broke out in Panama; U.S. armed forces intervened to prevent Colombian troops from suppressing the uprising, and the United States recognized Panama as an independent state.
Government sources estimated that more than 41,000 Colombians–mostly poor farmers–fled their homes to escape the growing violence between guerillas and paramilitary units. The government and Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) agreed in early 1998 to open peace negotiations. However, the future of negotiations remained questionable following the death in February of 62-year-old ELN leader Manuel Perez, a former priest who had led the rebel group for 25 years. Colombia is an overall good country that has had some very difficult times but still has a long way to go to succeed in the world.
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