The Country of Colombia
Submitted 6 months 2 weeks ago by CultureWhiz.
Colombia is a large South American country, with a rich ecology and a diverse economy. With its luxurious position, Colombia brings together the tropics with the Andes and the rainforest, connecting Central America with the heart of South America. As such, the country has seen heavy action with different people moving through its variegated territory. The country is more like a patchwork quilt than a unitary whole. However, the different regions do get along fairly harmoniously, making Colombia a bastion of progress in Latin America.
Geography: Colombia occupies the northwestern corner of South America, on a total of over one million square kilometers (almost half a million square miles). The area has a solid variety of geographic features, from imposing mountains to two seas. Neighboring Colombia to the east is Brazil, and with different languages and politics and overall cultures, the two countries have a complex relationship. Also to the east is Venezuela, another country with which Colombia sometimes clashes. To the south Colombia has borders with Peru and Ecuador. On its western side, Colombia connects with Central America through Panama.
Colombia is divided into 32 departments. The country's sharp geographical differences create stark regional variations in culture. The country's extreme influx of sunlight and water also yields one of the most diverse ecologies on the planet. The main geographical regions are the Andes mountain range, the Pacific coast, the Caribbean coast, the plains, the Amazon rainforest, and the offshore islands.
As far as cities go, the main locations include Bogotá, the capital and largest city, as well as Medellín and Cali. The Andean valley city of Medellín is a progressive hub of cultural and commercial activity. Southwestern Cali, on the Pacific Ocean, loves arts and sports.
Economy: The Colombian economy developed rapidly over the last hundred years, transforming from a traditional agricultural society into a complex market economy. It anchors a large part of South America, with bonds extending around the globe.
Colombia has plentiful natural resources and industrial products, including oil, forestry products, machinery, and coffee. Among other minerals, Colombia produces a good proportion of emeralds. Most of Colombia's energy is hydroelectric. Scientific and technological contributions include important techniques for artificial pacemakers and laser eye surgery.
History: Many Amerindian people moved through the area that is now Colombia, between Central America and the deeper parts of South America. Nomadic populations transitioned to agriculture, leading to chiefdoms. Shortly after the country's namesake Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas, Spaniards encountered this land. New European settlements grew, eventually forming a kingdom. Many colonial explorers sought El Dorado, the mythical city of gold, here.
After several shifts in how the Spanish operated their colonies, Colombians declared independence. Several political turnarounds ensued, resulting in a country that encompasses what is now Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Panama, and other parts of this region. Venezuela and Ecuador separated a few years later. Panama, with US influence, also separated. Colombia became a republic, abolished slavery, and fought a series of bloody civil conflicts, before becoming the stable country of today.
Colombia's political left and right remain divided, descending from historical conflicts. As a result, left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries have often clashed. Cocaine trafficking and kidnappings made headlines, although now the country is again becoming more peaceful.
Architecture and Transportation: Colombia has buildings that look like the Andalusia region in Spain. Meanwhile, the second largest city, Medellín, has an advanced transportation system, with a huge metro and other public options, including notably a 28-story outdoor escalator that connects a remote neighborhood to the urban core. Most transportation throughout Colombia happens by road, with around a quarter by rail. The country also has numerous airports including an immense hub in Bogotá, by one measure the largest airport in Latin America.