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Originally a Spanish colony, Colombia has become the gateway to South America. Independent since the early 19th century, the nation has made a name for itself not only as an exporter of precious materials but also as a major center of Spanish-speaking culture.
Though plagued by insecurity and turmoil in the latter half of the twentieth century, Colombia has experienced a significant amount of stability and growth in recent decades. As such, it continues to be a major player in both the economics and culture of South America.
Quick Facts about Columbia
- Colombia is considered one of the seventeen 'megadiverse' nations in the world due to its incredible amount of biodiversity.
- It has eighteen national holidays, second only to India in the number of national holidays celebrated by a country.
- It is the world's leading exporter of emeralds.
- A higher percentage of individuals speak Spanish in Colombia than in Spain.
- The blue in the country's flag represents the separation of Colombia from Spain.
Colombia's situation at the border of Central and South America means that it borders quite a few other nations. To the northwest, it borders the Central American nation of Panama. It borders Venezuela and Brazil to the east, and Ecuador and Peru to the south.
The significant coasts of the country also mean that the nation shares maritime borders with a handful of other nations. These include Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
At 439,740 square miles, Colombia is the fourth-largest country in South America and the twenty-fifth largest nation in the world. The country has approximately 1,993 miles of coastline, split between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.
This area also includes a handful of Caribbean islands that are part of disputed territory as well as some that are in the Pacific Ocean.
Over one hundred languages are spoken in Colombia, but the vast majority of its citizens - over ninety-nine percent - speak Spanish. Spanish the is the language that is taught in Colombian schools and almost all official business in the country is done in Spanish.
Various regions of Colombia have their own official languages, though, ranging from the sixty-five indigenous languages to the two creoles that are unique to Colombia. English also has official status in some areas of the country.
As with many countries, the weather in Colombia largely depends on where in the country you happen to be located. Because Colombia is largely located near the equator, it's not necessarily where in the country you are, but how high up you happen to be.
If you are on the coasts, for example, you'll generally experience tropical weather patterns. Those in the mountains, however, tend to experience cooler temperatures even during the springs. If you go towards the Amazon region, however, you can expect hot and damp temperatures no matter the time of year.
One of Colombia's claims to fame is that it is the first constitutional governments of South America. It is currently a democratic republic in which the executive powers are vested in a democratically-elected President. The legislature is divided into a two-house Congress consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate.
Colombia is further divided into thirty-two departments headed by elected Governors and Department Assemblies. Within some of these departments are also dedicated to indigenous territories. Though the departments themselves are subordinate to the national government, each does have some degree of autonomy.