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Old 04-14-2012, 12:20 PM
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Default Colombia

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia Spanish: República de Colombia), is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the northwest by Panama; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the east by Venezuela[8] and Brazil;[9] to the south by Ecuador and Peru;[10] and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. Colombia has maritime borders with Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.[11][12] Colombia is the 26th largest country by area and the fourth largest in South America after Brazil, Argentina and Peru. With over 46 million people, Colombia is the 27th largest country in the world by population and has the second largest population of any Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico. It is also the only country in South America having coasts in the Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic Ocean. Colombia is a middle power, with the fourth largest economy in Latin America, and the third largest in South America. Colombia is famous for the production of coffee, flowers, emeralds, coal and oil, all of these part of the primary sector of economy.

The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples including the Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona. The Spanish arrived in 1499 and initiated a period of conquest and colonization ultimately creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada (comprising modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, north-western Brazil and Panama), with its capital at Bogotá.[13] Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 "Gran Colombia" had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. What is now Colombia and 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.[2] Panama seceded in 1903.

Colombia was the first constitutional government in South America, and an important promoter of the Pan American organizations, initially through the Congress of Panama and later, during the 20th Century as founder of the Organization of American States. The Liberal and Conservative parties, founded in 1848 and 1849, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas.

Colombia is very ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans brought as slaves and twentieth-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East has produced a rich cultural heritage.[14] This has also been influenced by Colombia's 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 one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries, and is considered the most megadiverse per square kilometer.

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