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13 mars 2012 2 13 /03 /mars /2012 04:39

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 byEcuador and Peru;[10] and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. Sony VAIO VPCZ112GX/S Battery

Sony VAIO VPCZ114GX/S Battery

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 27th largest by population, and the fourth largest in South America after Brazil, Argentina and Peru. With over 46 million people, Colombia has the second largest population of any Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico. Sony VAIO VPCZ115 Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ115FC/B Battery

It is also the only country in South America having coasts in the Pacific Oceanand 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. Sony VAIO VPCZ115FC/S Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ116 Battery

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 theViceroyalty of New Granada (comprising modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, north-western Brazil and Panama), with its capital at Bogotá.[13] Sony VAIO VPCZ116GX/S Battery

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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. Sony VAIO VPCZ117FC/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ118 Battery

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 theOrganization of American States. The Liberal and Conservative parties, founded in 1848 and 1849, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas. Sony VAIO VPCZ118GC/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ118GX/S Battery

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. Sony VAIO VPCZ119 Battery,ony VAIO VPCZ119FJ/S Battery

The majority of the urban centres are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but Colombian territory also encompassesAmazon 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.[15][16] Sony VAIO VPCZ119GC/X Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ119L Battery

Tensions between political parties have frequently erupted into violence, most notably in the Thousand Days War(1899–1902) and La Violencia, beginning in 1948. Since the 1960s, government forces, left-wing insurgents and right-wing paramilitaries have been engaged in the continent's longest-running armed conflict.[17] Sony VAIO VPCZ119R/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ119R/S Battery

Fueled by the cocaine trade, this escalated dramatically in the 1980s. Since 2000 the violence has decreased significantly, with many paramilitary groups demobilising as part of a controversial peace process and the guerrillas losing control of much of the territory they once dominated.[2] Meanwhile Colombia's homicide rate almost halved between 2002 and 2006.[18] Sony VAIO VPCZ11AFJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ11AGJ Battery

As of 2011 Colombia remains the world's largest producer of cocaine,[19] although production has been falling.[20]

Etymology

The word "Colombia" comes from Christopher Columbus (His name in Italian is "Cristoforo Colombo"; Spanish: "Cristóbal Colón"). Sony VAIO VPCZ11AVJ Battery

Sony VAIO VPCZ11CGX/X Battery

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 and Ecuador).[21] Sony VAIO VPCZ11DGX/SJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ11FHX/XQ Battery

In 1835, when Venezuela and Ecuador broke away, the Cundinamarca region that remained became a new country – the Republic of New Granada. In 1858 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.[21] Sony VAIO VPCZ11V9R/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ11X9E/B Battery

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

Prehistory

Due to its geographical location the present territory of Colombia was a corridor of populations between Mesoamerica, the Caribbean, the Andes and the Amazon. Sony VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ125GX/S Battery

The oldest archaeological finds were found at sites of Monsú and Pubenza and dating from about 20,000 years B. C. Other vestiges realize that there were also early occupation in regions like El Abra between Tocancipá,Zipaquirá and Tequendama in Cundinamarca. These sites correspond to the Paleoindian period. In Puerto Hormiga has been found traces of the archaic period, including the oldest pottery found in America, dating from about 3,000 BC. Sony VAIO VPCZ127FC Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ128GC Battery

Pre-Columbian

Approximately 10,000 BC, the territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous people including the Muisca,Quimbaya, and Tairona. Hunter-gatherer societies existed near present-day Bogotá (at "El Abra" and "Tequendama") which traded with one another and with cultures living in the Magdalena River Valley.[22] Sony VAIO VPCZ12M9E/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ13M9E/B Battery

Beginning in the first millennium BC, groups ofAmerindians developed the political system of "cacicazgos" with a pyramidal structure of power headed by caciques. The Muiscas inhabited the area of what is now the Departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca high plateau mainly (Altiplano Cundiboyacense). Sony VAIO VPCZ13V9E/X Battery

Sony VAIO VPCZ13Z9E/X Battery

They farmed maize, potato, quinoa and cotton, among others. Skilled in goldsmiths, bartered emeralds, blankets, ceramic handicrafts, coca and salt actively trading these with neighboring nations. The Taironas inhabited in northern Colombia in the Andes isolated mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.[23] Sony VAIO VPCZZZHJ Battery

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Colonial times (1525 - 1808)

The Spanish settled along the north coast of today's Colombia as early as the 1500s, but their first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, was not established until 1525. In 1549, the institution of the Audiencia in Santa Fe de Bogotá gave that city the status of capital of New Granada, which comprised in large part what is now territory of Colombia. Sony VAIO VPZ118 Battery,Sony VAIO VPZ119 Battery

With the risk that the land was deserted, the Spanish Crown sold properties to the governors, conquerors and their descendants creating large farms and possession of mines. Black slaves were introduced as labor. Also to protect the indigenous population decimated, and Indian reservations were created.Sony VPCM11M1E/B Battery

Sony VPCM11M1E/W Battery

The repopulation was achieved by allowing colonization by farmers and their families who came from Spain. With this began the colonial period. New Granada was ruled by the Royal Audience of Santa Fe de Bogota, but important decisions were taken to the colony from Spain by the Council of the Indies.

A royal decree of 1713 approved the legality of Palenque de San Basilio founded by runaway slaves from the fifteenth century, Sony VPCM12M1E/L Battery

Sony VPCM12M1E/P Battery

slaves had fled and sought refuge in the jungles of the Caribbean coast. The Spanish forces could not tolerate them and ended up submitting, thereby giving rise to the first free place in the Americas. It was their principal leader Benkos Biohó, born in the region Bioho, Guinea Bissau, West Africa. Palenque de San Basilio was declared in 2005 as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.[24] Sony VPCM12M1E/W Battery

Sony VPCM13M1E/L Battery

In 1717 the Viceroyalty of New Granada was originally created, and then it was temporarily removed, to finally be reestablished in 1739. The Viceroyalty had Santa Fé de Bogotá as its capital. This Viceroyalty included some other provinces of northwestern South America which had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalties of New Spain or Peru and correspond mainly to today's Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. Sony VPCM13M1E/P Battery,Sony VPCM13M1E/W Battery

So, Bogotá became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World, along with Lima and Mexico City, though it remained somewhat backward compared to those two cities in several economic and logistical ways.

During the eighteenth century noted the figure of the priest, botanist and mathematician José Celestino Mutis (1732–1808), Sony VAIO VPCW115XW/W Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW117XC/P Battery

delegated by the viceroy Antonio Caballero y Góngora to conduct an inventory of the nature of the New Granada, which became known as the Botanical Expedition which classified plants, wildlife and founded the first astronomical observatory in the city of Santa Fe de Bogotá. On August 15, 1801 the Prussian scientist Alexander von Humboldt reaches Fontibón where he joins Mutis in New Granada expedition to Quito. Sony VAIO VPCW117XC/T Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW117XC/W Battery

Independence from Spain (1808 - 1824)

Since the beginning of the periods of conquest and colonization, there were several rebel movements under Spanish rule, most of them were either crushed or remained too weak to change the overall situation. Sony VAIO VPCW119XJ Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW119XJ/P Battery

The last one which sought outright independence from Spain sprang up around 1810, following the independence of St. Domingue (present-day Haiti) in 1804, which provided a non-negligible degree of support to the eventual leaders of this rebellion: Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander. Sony VAIO VPCW119XJ/W Battery

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A movement initiated by Antonio Nariño, who opposed Spanish centralism and led the opposition against the viceroyalty, led to the independence of Cartagena in November 1811, and the formation of two independent governments which fought a civil war – a period known as La Patria Boba. The following year Nariño proclaimed the United Provinces of New Granada, headed by Camilo Torres Tenorio. Sony VAIO VPCW11S1E/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW11S1E/T Battery

Despite the successes of the rebellion, the emergence of two distinct ideological currents among the liberators (federalism and centralism) gave rise to an internal clash which contributed to the reconquest of territory by the Spanish. The viceroyalty was restored under the command of Juan de Samano, whose regime punished those who participated in the uprisings. Sony VAIO VPCW11S1E/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW121AX Battery

The retribution stoked renewed rebellion, which, combined with a weakened Spain, made possible a successful rebellion led by the Venezuelan-born Simón Bolívar, who finally proclaimed independence in 1819. The pro-Spanish resistance was finally defeated in 1822 in the present territory of Colombia and in 1823 in Venezuela. Sony VAIO VPCW126AG Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/P Battery

The territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada became the Republic of Colombia organized as a union of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela (Panama was then an integral part of Colombia). The Congress of Cucuta in 1821 adopted a constitution for the new Republic. Simón Bolívar became the first President of Colombia, and Francisco de Paula Santander was made Vice President. Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/T Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/W Battery

However, the new republic was very unstable and ended with the rupture of Venezuela in 1829, followed by Ecuador in 1830.

Post-independence and republicanism (1824 - 1930)

Colombia was the first constitutional government in South America, and the Liberal and Conservative parties, founded in 1848 and 1849 respectively, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas. Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/WZ Battery

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Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. The so-called "Department of Cundinamarca" adopted the name "Nueva Granada", which it kept until 1856 when it became the "Confederación Granadina" (Granadine Confederation). After a two-year civil war in 1863, the "United States of Colombia" was created, lasting until 1886, when the country finally became known as the Republic of Colombia. Sony VAIO VPCW12AKJ Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW12AVJ Battery

Internal divisions remained between the bipartisan political forces, occasionally igniting very bloody civil wars, the most significant being the Thousand Days' War (1899–1902).

This, together with the United States of America's intentions to influence the area (especially the Panama Canal construction and control) led to the separation of the Department of Panama in 1903 and the establishment of it as a nation. Sony VAIO VPCW12S1E/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW12S1E/T Battery

The United States paid Colombia $25,000,000 in 1921, seven years after completion of the canal, for redress of President Roosevelt's role in the creation of Panama, and Colombia recognized Panama under the terms of the Thomson-Urrutia Treaty. Colombia was engulfed in the Year-Long War with Peru over a territorial dispute involving the Amazonas Department and its capital Leticia. Sony VAIO VPCW12S1E/W Battery

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The Violence and the National Front (1930 - 1974)

Soon after, Colombia achieved a relative degree of political stability, which was interrupted by a bloody conflict that took place between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, a period known as La Violencia ("The Violence"). Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/T Battery

Its cause was mainly mounting tensions between the two leading political parties, which subsequently ignited after the assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on 9 April 1948. The ensuing riots in Bogotá, known as El Bogotazo, spread throughout the country and claimed the lives of at least 180,000 Colombians.[25] Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW215AG/L Battery

From 1953 to 1964 the violence between the two political parties decreased first when Gustavo Rojas deposed the President of Colombia in a coup d'état and negotiated with the Guerrillas, and then under the military junta of General Gabriel París Gordillo.

After Rojas' deposition, the Colombian Conservative Party and Colombian Liberal Party agreed to the create the "National Front", Sony VAIO VPCW217JC Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/L Battery

a coalition which would jointly govern the country. Under the deal, the presidency would alternate between conservatives and liberals every 4 years for 16 years; the two parties would have parity in all other elective offices. The National Front ended "La Violencia", and National Front administrations attempted to institute far-reaching social and economic reforms in cooperation with the Alliance for Progress. Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/T Battery

In the end, the contradictions between each successive Liberal and Conservative administration made the results decidedly mixed. Despite the progress in certain sectors, many social and political problems continued, and guerrilla groups were formally created such as the FARC, ELN and M-19 to fight the government and political apparatus. Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW218JC Battery

The Medellín and Cali cartels

Emerging in the late 1970s, powerful and violent drug cartels further developed during the 1980s and 1990s. The Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel, in particular, exerted political, economic and social influence in Colombia during this period. Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/L Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/P Battery

These cartels also financed and influenced different illegal armed groups throughout the political spectrum. Some enemies of these allied with the guerrillas and created or influenced paramilitary groups.

Constitution of 1991

The new Colombian Constitution of 1991, ratified after being drafted by the Constituent Assembly of Colombia, included key provisions on political, ethnic, human and gender rights. Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/T Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/W Battery

The new constitution initially prohibited the extradition of Colombian nationals, causing accusations that drug cartels had successfully lobbied for the provision; extradition resumed in 1996 after the provision was repealed. The cartels had previously promoted a violent campaign against extradition, leading to many terrorist attacks and mafia-style executions. Sony VAIO VPCW219AJ/L Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW219AJ/P Battery

They also tried to influence the government and political structure of Colombia through corruption, as in the case of the 8000 Process scandal.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution of 1991 and the reforms made, the country has continued to be plagued by the effects of the drug trade, guerrillainsurgencies like FARC, and paramilitary groups such as the AUC, Sony VAIO VPCW219AJ/W Battery

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which along with other minor factions have engaged in a bloody internal armed conflict. PresidentAndrés Pastrana and the FARC attempted to negotiate a solution to the conflict between 1999 and 2002. The government set up a "demilitarized" zone, but repeated tensions and crises led the Pastrana administration to conclude that the negotiations were ineffectual. Sony VAIO VPCW21AKJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW21AVJ Battery

Pastrana also began to implement the Plan Colombiainitiative, with the dual goal of ending the armed conflict and promoting a strong anti-narcotic strategy.

Colombian armed conflict, 2002 - present

During the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, the government applied more military pressure on the FARC and other outlawed groups. Sony VAIO VPCZ110 Battery

Sony VAIO VPCZ110GB/BI Battery

After the offensive, supported by aid from the United States, many security indicators improved. Reported kidnappings showed a steep decrease (from 3,700 in 2000 to 172 in 2009 (Jan.-Oct.)) as did intentional homicides (from 28,837 in 2002 to 15,817 in 2009, according to police, while the health system reported a decline from 28,534 to 17,717 during the same period). Sony VAIO VPCZ112GD/S Battery,Sony VAIO VPCZ112GX/S Battery

The rate of abductions declined steadily for almost a decade until 2010, when 280 cases were reported between January and October, most concentrated in theMedellín area.[26][27][28][29] While rural areas and jungles remained dangerous, the overall reduction of violence led to the growth of internal travel and tourism.[ Sony VAIO VPCW117XC/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW119XJ Battery

According to official statistics from the Colombian Army the FARC-EP had a total of 18,000 members as of December 2010, with 9,000 of them being regular guerrillas and the rest armed militia members operating in civilian clothing in cities and villages.[31] Independent researchers speaking to Time Magazine claimed that the FARC-EP have 30,000 such militia members in 2011, indicating a shift in rebel strategy.[32] Sony VAIO VPCW119XJ/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW119XJ/W Battery

The FARC's commander in chief Alfonso Cano was killed by security forces in November 2011.[33] He was replaced by Timoleón Jiménez, who assumed the duty of first commander just days after Cano's death. Jiménez is thought to move in the mountain corridor covering the Cesar Department, Norte de Santander and the Bolívar Department.[34] Sony VAIO VPCW11AXJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW11S1E/P Battery

The smaller rebel group Ejército de Liberación Nacional is estimated to have between 2900 and 5000 members as of 2010.[35] After the demobilization of the right-wing paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia the country has seen the rise of a number of neo-paramilitary groups such as Los Rastrojos and Los Urabeños, who have been accused of widespread murder, drug trafficking and Land grabbing. Sony VAIO VPCW11S1E/T Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW11S1E/W Battery

Inequity problems

Colombia has the fourth largest economy in Latin America, but income and wealth are unevenly distributed.[37] [38]Only 13.8% of total income is allocated to the poorest half of the population, while the wealthiest 10% of the population benefit from 46.5%. Sony VAIO VPCW121AX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW126AG Battery

Colombia bears the most uneven distribution of wealth in all of Latin America and such a wide income gap between the rich and poor compounds the country’s poverty issues. [39]

Inequity regarding land ownership has also been a long existing problem in Colombia, prompting the formation of left-wing guerrilla groups during the 1950s and 1960s. Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/P Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/T Battery

As counteraction, adversaries backed by powerful landowners established rightwing paramilitary organizations. Internal contention intensified by civil war in the 1980s, which was chiefly provoked by the cocaine trade. Although the state of conflict has calmed tremendously in recent years, Colombia still has over 3.2 million internally displaced individuals—a figure so high that it falls only second to that of Sudan. [40] Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW127JC/WZ Battery

Inadequacies in land allocation have failed to diminish in recent years, further contributing to Colombia’s health, income and societal inequity struggles. [39]Inadequacies in land allocation have failed to diminish in recent years, further contributing to Colombia’s health, income and societal inequity struggles [SW]. Sony VAIO VPCW12AAJ Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW12AKJ Battery

Inequitable land ownership is more problematic in rural areas of the country. Statistics indicate that less than one percent of landowners own 61% of rural territory. The lack of fair land availability prevents local farmers from cultivating useable terrain for agricultural purposes, hindering income distribution and further exacerbating the poverty gap. Sony VAIO VPCW12AVJ Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW12S1E/P Battery

Poverty inflicts rural areas in greater magnitude than that of urban areas. While 39% percent of the urban population is considered poor, 62% of the rural population is considered poor with an additional 22% considered extremely poor. [41] The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), classifies poverty by those earning a monthly income of less than 281,384 Col pesos (143 USD) and extreme poverty those earning less than 120,588 Col Pesos (61 USD). Sony VAIO VPCW12S1E/T Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW12S1E/W Battery

In 1990, the income ratio between the richest and poorest 10% was 40-to-one, climbing to 80-to-one in 2000.[43] In 2009, Colombia had a Gini coefficient of 0.587, one of the highest in Latin America,[44] with 46% of Colombians living below the poverty line and 17% in "extreme poverty".[Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/L Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/P Battery

The Colombian government has since claimed to establish a state-funded program aiming to bring at least one million families out from extreme poverty status. [42]

Recent developments

Colombia shows modest progress in the struggle to defend human rights, as expressed by HRW.[48] Between 2008 and 2011 a total of 175 worker's union members were murdered in Colombia, according to HRW.[49] Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/T Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW213AG/W Battery

In terms of international relations, Colombia has moved from a period of tense animosity with Venezuela, towards a prosperous outlook to further enhance integration. Colombia has also won a seat on the Security Council of the UN.[50] Sony VAIO VPCW215AG/L Battery

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The world's second biggest bank HSBC has created a perspective on the economic outlook in 2050 where Colombia is seen playing a decisive role in the global economy, especially in the Americas as the number 25 in the world economies measured by GDP. This group has been called CIVETS.[51] Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/L Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/P Battery

Today Colombia is the fourth largest oil producer in South America and it is estimated that by 2012, Colombia will be producing a million barrels a day.

Geography

The geography of Colombia is characterized by containing five main natural regions that present their own unique characteristics, from the Andes mountain range region shared with Ecuador and Venezuela; Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/T Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW217JC/W Battery

the Pacific Oceancoastal region shared with Panama and Ecuador; the Caribbean Sea coastal region shared with Venezuela and Panama; the Llanos(plains) shared with Venezuela; to the Amazon Rainforest region shared with Venezuela, Brazil,Peru and Ecuador. Colombia is the only South American country which borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Sony VAIO VPCW218JC Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/L Battery

Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south byEcuador and Peru; to the north by Panama and the Caribbean Sea; and to the west by Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean. Including its Caribbean islands, it lies between latitudes 14°N and 5°S, and longitudes 66° and 82°W Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/T Battery

Part of the Ring of Fire, a region of the world subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Colombia is dominated by the Andes mountains (which contain the majority of the country's urban centres). Beyond theColombian Massif (in the south-western departments of Cauca and Nariño) these are divided into three branches known as cordilleras (mountain ranges): Sony VAIO VPCW218JC/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW219AJ/L Battery

the Cordillera Occidental, running adjacent to the Pacific coast and including the city of Cali; the Cordillera Central, running between the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys (to the west and east respectively) and including the cities of Medellín, Manizales, Pereira and Armenia; and theCordillera Oriental, Sony VAIO VPCW219AJ/P Battery

Sony VAIO VPCW219AJ/W Battery

extending north east to the Guajira Peninsula and including Bogotá, Bucaramanga andCúcuta. Peaks in the Cordillera Occidental exceed 13,000 ft (3,962 m), and in the Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental they reach 18,000 ft (5,486 m).[52] At 8,500 ft (2,591 m), Bogotá is the highest city of its size in the world. Sony VAIO VPCW21AAJ Battery

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East of the Andes lies the savanna of the Llanos, part of the Orinoco River basin, and, in the far south east, the jungle of the Amazon rainforest. Together these lowlands comprise over half Colombia's territory, but they contain less than 3% of the population. To the north the Caribbean coast, home to 20% of the population and the location of the major port cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena, Sony VAIO VPCW21AVJ Battery

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generally consists of low-lying plains, but it also contains the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, which includes the country's tallest peaks (Pico Cristóbal Colón and Pico Simón Bolívar), and theGuajira Desert. By contrast the narrow and discontinuous Pacific coastal lowlands, backed by the Serranía de Baudó mountains, are sparsely populated and covered in dense vegetation. The principal Pacific port is Buenaventura. HP Pavilion DV7 battery,HP DV6-1120SA battery

Colombian territory also includes a number of Caribbean and Pacific islands. This is considered by some as a sixth region, comprising those areas outside continental Colombia, including the department of San Andrés y Providencia in the Caribbean Sea and the islands of Malpelo and Gorgona in the Pacific Ocean. HP DV6-1210SA battery

Compaq CQ50 battery

However, cultural ties are with the respective coastlines. In this region Colombia has a lot of stable sand banks of considerable size, considered suitable for the development of artificial islands.

Climate

The striking variety in temperature and precipitation results principally from differences in elevation. HP Pavilion DV8 battery,Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

Temperatures range from very hot at sea level to relatively cold at higher elevations but vary little with the season. At Bogotá, for example, the average annual temperature is 15 °C (59 °F), and the difference between the average of the coldest and the warmest months is less than 1°C (1.8°F). More significant, however, is the daily variation in temperature, from 5 °C (41 °F) at night to 17 °C (62.6 °F) during the day. HP DV9700 battery

Compaq CQ35-100 battery

Colombians customarily describe their country in terms of the climatic zones: the area under 900 meters (2,953 ft) in elevation is called the hot zone (tierra caliente), elevations between 900 and 1,980 meters (2,953 and 6,496 ft) are the temperate zone (tierra templada), and elevations from 1,980 meters (6,496 ft) to about 3,500 meters (11,483 ft) constitute the cold zone (tierra fría). Sony VGP-BPS11 battery,Sony VAIO VPCW111XX/P Battery

The upper limit of the cold zone marks the tree line and the approximate limit of human habitation. The treeless regions adjacent to the cold zone and extending to approximately 4,500 meters (14,764 ft) are high, bleak areas (usually referred to as the páramos), above which begins the area of permanent snow (nevado). Sony VAIO VPCW111XX/PC Battery

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About 86% of the country's total area lies in the hot zone. Included in the hot zone and interrupting the temperate area of the Andean highlands are the long and narrow extension of the Magdalena Valley and a small extension in the Cauca Valley. Temperatures, depending on elevation, vary between 24 and 38 °C (75.2 and 100.4 °F), Sony VAIO VPCW111XX/W Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW111XXP Battery

and there are alternating dry and wet seasons corresponding to summer and winter, respectively. Breezes on the Caribbean coast, however, reduce both heat and precipitation.

The cold or cool zone constitutes about 6% of the total area, including some of the most densely populated plateaus and terraces of the Colombian Andes; Sony VAIO VPCW111XXT Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW111XXW Battery

this zone supports about onefourth of the country's total population. The mean temperature ranges between 10 and 19 °C (50 and 66.2 °F), and the wet seasons occur in April and May and from September to December, as in the high elevations of the temperate zone. Sony VAIO VPCW115XG Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW115XGP Battery

Hydrology

The hydrography of Colombia is one of the richest in the world. Its main rivers are Magdalena, Cauca, Guaviare, andCaquetá. Colombia has four main drainage systems: the Pacific drain, the Caribbean drain, the Orinoco Basin and the Amazon Basin. The Orinoco and Amazon Rivers mark limits with Colombia to Venezuela and Peru respectively. Sony VAIO VPCW115XW/P Battery,Sony VAIO VPCW115XW/T Battery

These are the main rivers confined to Colombia: Atrato, Cauca, Magdalena, Sinú, Baudó,, San Juan, Meta, Vichada. Colombia it's an important source of water, in its land born some several main rivers: Catatumbo, Arauca, Caquetá, Guainía, Putumayo River and Vaupés. Sony VAIO VPCEB1BGX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1BGX/BI Battery

Environmental issues

The environmental challenges faced by Colombians are caused by both natural and human factors. Many natural hazards result from the geological instability related to Colombia's position along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Colombia has 15 major volcanoes, the eruptions of which have on occasion resulted in substantial loss of life, such as at Armero in 1985. Sony VAIO VPCEB1CGX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1CGX/BI Battery

Geological faults that have caused numerous devastating earthquakes, such as the 1999 Armenia earthquake. Heavy floods both in mountainous areas and in low-lying watersheds and coastal regions regularly cause deaths and considerable damage to property during the rainy seasons. Rainfall intensities vary with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation which occurs in unpredictable cycles, at times causing especially severe flooding. Sony VAIO VPCEB1DGX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1DGX/BI Battery

Human induced deforestation has started to creep into the rainforests of Amazonia and the Pacific coast and has substantially changed the Andean landscape. Deforestation is also linked to the conversion of lowland tropical forests to oil palm plantations. However, compared to neighbouring countries rates of deforestation in Colombia are still relatively low.[55] Sony VAIO VPCEB1EGX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1EGX/BI Battery

In urban areas, contamination of the local environment has been caused by human produced waste, and the use of fossil fuels. Participants in the country's armed conflict have also contributed to the pollution of the environment. Illegal armed groups have deforested large areas of land to plant illegal crops, with an estimated 99,000 hectares used for the cultivation of coca in 2007,[56] Sony VAIO VPCEB1FGX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1FGX/BI Battery

while in response the government has fumigated these crops using hazardous chemicals. Insurgents have also destroyed oil pipelines creating major ecological disasters[citation needed]. Demand from rapidly expanding cities has placed increasing stress on the water supply as watersheds are affected and ground water tables fall. Sony VAIO VPCEB1GGX Battery

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Nonetheless, Colombia is the fourth country in the world by magnitude of total freshwater supply, and still has large reserves of freshwater.[57]

Government

The government of Colombia takes place within the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic as established in theConstitution of 1991. Sony VAIO VPCEB1HGX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1HGX/BI Battery

In accordance with the principle of separation of powers, government is divided into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch.

As the head of the executive branch, the President of Colombia serves as both head of state and head of government, followed by the Vice President and the Council of Ministers. Sony VAIO VPCEB1JFX Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1JFX/B Battery

The president is elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms and is limited to a maximum of two such terms (increased from one in 2005). At the provincial level executive power is vested in department governors, municipal mayors and local administrators for smaller administrative subdivisions, such as corregidores or corregimientos. Sony VAIO VPCEB1JFX/G Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1JFX/L Battery

The legislative branch of government is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The 102-seat Colombian senate is elected nationally and the Representatives are elected by every region and minority groups.[58] Members of both houses are elected to serve four-year terms two months before the president, also by popular vote. Sony VAIO VPCEB1JFX/P Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1JFX/W Battery

At the provincial level the legislative branch is represented bydepartment assemblies and municipal councils. All regional elections are held one year and five months after the presidential election.

The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court, consisting of 23 judges divided into three chambers (Penal, Civil and Agrarian, and Labour). Sony VAIO VPCEB1KGX Battery

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The judicial branch also includes the Council of State, which has special responsibility for administrative law and also provides legal advice to the executive, the Constitutional Court, responsible for assuring the integrity of the Colombian constitution, and the Superior Council of Judicature, responsible for auditing the judicial branch. Sony VAIO VPCEB1LFX Battery

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Colombia operates a system of civil law, which since 2005 has been applied through an adversarial system.

Administrative divisions

Colombia is divided into 32 departments and one capital district, which is treated as a department (Bogotá also serves as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca). Sony VAIO VPCEB1LFX/WI Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1MFX Battery

Departments are subdivided into municipalities, each of which is assigned a municipal seat, and municipalities are in turn subdivided intocorregimientos. Each department has a local government with a governor and assembly directly elected to four-year terms. Each municipality is headed by a mayor and council, and each corregimiento by an elected corregidor, or local leader. Sony VAIO VPCEB1MFX/BI Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1NFX Battery

In addition to the capital nine other cities have been designated districts (in effect special municipalities), on the basis of special distinguishing features. These are Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Cúcuta, Popayán, Bucaramanga, Tunja, Turbo, Buenaventura and Tumaco. Sony VAIO VPCEB1NFX/B Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1NFX/L Battery

Some departments have local administrative subdivisions, where towns have a large concentration of population and municipalities are near each other (for example in Antioquia and Cundinamarca). Where departments have a low population and there are security problems (for example Amazonas, Vaupés and Vichada), special administrative divisions are employed, such as "department corregimientos", which are a hybrid of a municipality and a corregimiento. Sony VAIO VPCEB1NFX/P Battery,Sony VAIO VPCEB1NFX/W Battery


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