Wednesday, July 17, 2013

87. Colombia - Introduction

Colombia;  Republic of Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia [reˈpuβlika ðe koˈlombja]), is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. It is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the northwest by Panama; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean.

 officially the
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, with its capital at Bogotá. 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. 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 as founder of the Organization of American States.

Colombia is ethnically diverse. The interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, African people originally brought to the country as slaves and 20th-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East, have produced a varied cultural heritage. The imposing landscape of the country has resulted in the development of very strong regional identities, in many cases stronger than the national. 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.
The name "Colombia" is derived from the last name of Christopher Columbus (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo; Spanish: Cristóbal Colón). It was conceived by the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda as a reference to all the New World, but especially to those under the Spanish and Portuguese rule. The name was later adopted by the Republic of Colombia of 1819, formed out of the territories of the old Viceroyalty of New Granada (modern-day Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, and northwest Brazil).
In 1835, when Venezuela and Ecuador parted ways, the Cundinamarca region that remained became a new country – the Republic of New Granada. In 1858 the New Granada officially changed its name to the Granadine Confederation, then in 1863 the United States of Colombia, before finally adopting its present name – the Republic of Colombia – in 1886.

To refer to the country, the Colombian government uses the terms Colombia and República de Colombia