Colombia (pron.: /kəˈlʌmbiə/ kə-lum-biə, or /kəˈlɒmbiə/ kə-lom-biə), officially the Republic of Colombia(Spanish: República de Colombia [reˈpuβlika ðe koˈlombja]), is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the northwest byPanama; to the north by the Caribbean Sea;Sony VAIO PCG-3B1M Battery
to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador andPeru; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. 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. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1T Battery
Colombia is a middle power, and is now the fourth largest economy in Latin America, and the third largest in South America. Colombia produces coffee, flowers, emeralds, coal, and oil. These products comprise the primary sector of the economy. The world's third 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. Sony VAIO PCG-3D1M 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 colonizationultimately creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada (comprising modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, north-western Brazil and Panama), with its capital at Bogotá. Sony VAIO PCG-3G2M Battery
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. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1M Battery
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. The Liberal and Conservative parties, founded in 1848 and 1849, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas. Sony VAIO PCG-7141M Battery
Colombia is ethnically diverse. The interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, and 20th-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East, have produced a varied cultural heritage. This has also been influenced by Colombia's varied geography. Sony VAIO PCG-7143M Battery
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 17megadiverse countries, and is considered the most megadiverse per square kilometer. Sony VAIO PCG-7151M 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 andright-wing paramilitaries have been engaged in the continent's longest-running armed conflict. Sony VAIO PCG-7154M Battery
Fueled by thecocaine trade, this escalated dramatically in the 1980s. Since 2010 the violence has decreased, with some paramilitary groups demobilising as part of a controversial peace process and the guerrillas losing control of much of the territory they once dominated. Meanwhile Colombia's homicide rate almost halved between 2002 and 2006. Sony VAIO PCG-7162M Battery
Due to eradication policies, as of June 2012, Colombia, for many years the world's largest producer of cocaine, is now widely considered to rank second or third, though some sources still consider it first. The United States of America are still the largest consumer of this drug, with a 150 to 160 tons per year. Sony VAIO PCG-7181M Battery
The word "Colombia" comes from 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 and Ecuador). Sony VAIO PCG-41112M Battery
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. Sony VAIO PCG-7153M Battery
Due to its geographical location, the present territory of Colombia was a corridor of populations between Mesoamerica, the Caribbean, the Andes and the Amazon. The oldest archaeological finds are from sites at Monsú and Pubenza, dating from about 20,000 BC. Other vestiges indicate that there was also early occupation in regions like El Abra between Tocancipá, Sony VAIO PCG-71312M Battery
Zipaquiráand Tequendama in Cundinamarca. These sites correspond to the Paleoindian period. In Puerto Hormiga, traces of the archaic period have been found, including the oldest pottery discovered in America, dating from about 3000 BC.
Approximately 10,000 BC, the territory of what is now Colombia was inhabited by indigenous people including the Muisca,Quimbaya, and Tairona. Sony VAIO PCG-7144M Battery
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. Beginning in the 1st millennium BC, groups ofAmerindians developed the political system of "cacicazgos" with a pyramidal structure of power headed by caciques. Sony VAIO PCG-7191L Battery
The Muiscas inhabited mainly the area of what is now the Departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca high plateau (Altiplano Cundiboyacense). They farmed maize, potato, quinoa and cotton, and traded worked gold, emeralds, blankets, ceramic handicrafts, coca and salt with neighboring nations. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1M Battery
The Taironas inhabited northern Colombia in the isolated Andes mountain range of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Spanish explorers, led by Rodrigo de Bastidas, made the first exploration of the Caribbean littoral in 1500. Christopher Columbus navigated near the Caribbean in 1502. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M Battery
In 1508, Vasco Núñez de Balboa started the conquest of the territory through the region of Urabá. In 1513, he was the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean, which he called Mar del Sur (or "Sea of the South") and which in fact would bring the Spaniards to Peru and Chile.
Alonso de Ojeda (who had sailed with Columbus) reached the Guajira Peninsula in 1500. Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M Battery
Santa Marta was founded in 1525, and Cartagena in 1533. Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada led an expedition to the interior in 1535, and founded the "New City of Granada", the name of which soon changed to "Santa Fé". Two other notable journeys by Spaniards to the interior took place in the same period. Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M Battery
Sebastian de Belalcazar, conqueror of Quito, traveled north and founded Cali, in 1536, and Popayán, in 1537; Nicolas Federman crossed the Llanos Orientales and went over the Eastern Cordillera.
The Caribbean people, indigenous to Colombia, experienced a reduction in population due to conquest by the Spanish as well as European-carried diseases such as smallpox, Sony VAIO PCG-8141M Battery
to which they had no immunity. In the 16th century, Europeans began to bring slaves from Africa.
The Spanish settled along the north coast of today's Colombia as early as the 16th century, but their first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, was not established until 1525. In 1549, the institution of the Audiencia in Santa Fe de Bogotágave that city the status of capital of New Granada, which comprised in large part what is now territory of Colombia. Sony VAIO PCG-8161M 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. Slaves were introduced as labor. Also to protect the indigenous population decimated, and Indian reservations were created. Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M 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 Bogotá, but important decisions were taken to the colony from Spain by the Council of the Indies. Sony VAIO PCG-5N2M Battery
A royal decree of 1713 approved the legality of Palenque de San Basilio founded by runaway slaves from the 15th century, 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. Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M Battery
Its main leader was 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.
In 1717 the Viceroyalty of New Granada was originally created, and then it was temporarily removed, to finally be reestablished in 1739. Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M Battery
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. So, Bogotá became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World, Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M Battery
along with Lima and Mexico City, though it remained somewhat backward compared to those two cities in several economic and logistical ways.
The 18th-century priest, botanist and mathematician José Celestino Mutis (1732–1808), was delegated by the viceroy Antonio Caballero y Góngora to conduct an inventory of the nature of the New Granada. Sony VAIO PCG-7171M Battery
This became known as the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada which classified plants, wildlife and founded the first astronomical observatory in the city of Santa Fe de Bogotá. On 15 August 1801 the Prussian scientist Alexander von Humboldt reached Fontibón where he joined Mutis in New Granada expedition to Quito. Sony VAIO PCG-7186M Battery
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. The last one which sought outright independence from Spain sprang up around 1810, following the independence of St. Sony VAIO PCG-81112M Battery
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.
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, Sony VAIO PCG-31311M Battery
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. 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. Sony VAIO PCG-8152M Battery
The viceroyalty was restored under the command of Juan de Samano, whose regime punished those who participated in the uprisings. 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. Sony VAIO PCG-31111M Battery
The pro-Spanish resistance was finally defeated in 1822 in the present territory of Colombia and in 1823 in Venezuela.
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). Sony VAIO PCG-61111M Battery
The Congress of Cúcuta 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. However, the new republic was very unstable and ended with the rupture of Venezuela in 1829, followed by Ecuador in 1830. Sony VAIO PCG-51112M Battery
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.
Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. Sony VAIO PCG-51211M Battery
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 PCG-51212M Battery
Internal divisions remained between the bipartisan political forces, occasionally igniting very bloody civil wars, the most significant being theThousand 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 PCG-41111M 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 PCG-41111V Battery
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"). Its cause was mainly mounting tensions between the two leading political parties, Sony VAIO PCG-61412V Battery
which subsequently ignited after the assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on 9 April 1948. The ensuing riots in Bogotá, known asEl Bogotazo, spread throughout the country and claimed the lives of at least 180,000 Colombians. Sony VAIO PCG-71112M 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 create the "National Front",Sony VAIO PCG-81111V 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 PCG-81111V 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 PCG-81212M Battery
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. These cartels also financed and influenced different illegal armed groups throughout the political spectrum. Sony VAIO PCG-81212V Battery
Drug dealers and landlords will ally to fight the common enemy of the left guerrillas and created or influenced paramilitary groups.
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 PCG-51111M 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 VPCS13X9E/B battery
They also influenced the government and political structure of Colombiathrough corruption, to such label that by 1996 up to the third part of the senate were put by the mafia. These circumstances were extensively uncovered in the justice case called the "8000 case" 8000 Process which was the biggest political scandal of the 90s. Sony VAIO VPCS12V9E/B battery
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, which along with other minor factions have engaged in a bloody internal armed conflict. Sony VAIO VPCS12V9E/B battery
President Andrés 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. Pastrana also began to implement the Plan Colombia initiative, with the dual goal of ending the armed conflict and promoting a strong anti-narcotic strategy. Sony VAIO VPCF13M8E/B battery
During the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, the government applied more military pressure on the FARC and other outlawed groups. After the offensive, supported by aid from the United States, many security indicators improved. However this improvement has been criticized questioned for the Colombian Army's continued violations of Humans Rights and also questionable statistics. Sony VAIO VPCF13Z0E/B battery
Reported kidnappings showed a steep decrease (from 3,700 in 2000 to 172 in 2009 (January -October )) 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). The rate of reported abductions declined steadily for almost a decade until 2010, Sony VAIO VPCM13M1E/L battery
when 280 cases were reported between January and October, most concentrated in the Medellín area. While rural areas and jungles remained dangerous, the overall reduction of violence led to the growth of internal travel and tourism.
According to official statistics from the Colombian Army the FARC-EP had a total of 18,000 members as of December 2010, Sony VAIO VPCM13M1E/W battery
with 9,000 of them being regular guerrillas and the rest armed militia members operating in civilian clothing in cities and villages. An independent researcher speaking to Time magazine claimed that the FARC-EP have 30,000 such militia members in 2011, indicating a shift in rebel strategy. This opinion contradicts widely accepted official figures of 30.000 members in 2002 but over 22.500 guerrilla members, Sony VAIO VPCF22M1E battery
including 5.8000 militia members surrendering between that year and 2008, although the Colombian Government agrees on a shift in strategy towards militia actions, caused by the military pressure that makes more difficult for FARC to field regular guerrilla units. The FARC's commander in chief Alfonso Cano was killed by security forces in November 2011. Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery
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. The smaller rebel group Ejército de Liberación Nacional is estimated to have between 2900 and 5000 members as of 2010. Sony VAIO VPCF13M0E/B battery
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 VPCYB2M1E battery
Colombia shows modest progress in the struggle to defend human rights, as expressed by HRW. Between 2008 and 2011 a total of 175 worker's union members were murdered in Colombia, according to HRW. In terms of international relations, Colombia has moved from a period of tense animosity with Venezuela, towards a prosperous outlook to further enhance integration. Sony VAIO VPCYB3V1E battery
Colombia has also won a seat on the Security Council of the UN.
The world's third 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. Sony VAIO VPCY11M1E battery
This grouphas been called CIVETS. Today Colombia is the third largest oil producer in South America and it is estimated that by 2012, Colombia will be producing a million barrels a day.
The geography of Colombia is characterized by its five main natural regions that present their own unique characteristics, from the Andes mountain range region shared with Ecuador and Venezuela; Sony VAIO VPCS12L9E/B battery
the Pacific coastal region shared with Panama and Ecuador; the Caribbean 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 country in the planet more characterized by a high biodiversity, Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B battery
with the highest rate of species by area unit worldwide and it has the largest number of endemisms(species that are not found naturally anywhere else) of any country. About 10% of the species of the Earth live in Colombia, including over 1800 species of birds, more than in Europe and North America combined, Sony VAIO VPCYB3V1E/R Battery
and it hosts 456 species of mammals, more than any other country in the world. It is the only South American country which borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by Panama and the Caribbean Sea; and to the west by Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean. Sony VAIO VPCF23P1E Battery
Including its Caribbean islands, it lies between latitudes 14°N and 5°S, and longitudes 66° and 82°W
Part of the Ring of Fire, a region of the world subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Colombia is dominated by the Andes (which contain the majority of the country's urban centres). Beyond the Colombian Massif (in the south-western departments of Cauca and Nariño) Sony VAIO VPCF23N1E Battery
these are divided into three branches known as cordilleras (mountain ranges): 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, Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/L Battery
Manizales, Pereira and Armenia; and the Cordillera Oriental, extending north east to the Guajira Peninsula and including Bogotá,Bucaramanga and Cúcuta. 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). At 8,500 ft (2,591 m), Bogotá is the highest city of its size in the world.Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/G battery
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 ofBarranquilla and Cartagena, Sony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery
generally consists of low-lying plains, but it also contains the Sierra Nevada de Santa Martamountain range, which includes the country's tallest peaks (Pico Cristóbal Colón and Pico Simón Bolívar), and the Guajira 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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW110J/H 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. However, cultural ties are with the respective coastlines. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H Battery
The striking variety in temperature and precipitation results principally from differences in elevation. Temperatures range from very hot at sea level to relatively cold at higher elevations but vary little with the season. Temperatures generally decrease about 3.5°F (2°C) for every 1,000-ft (300-m) increase in altitude above sea level, presenting perpetual snowy peaks to hot river valleys and basins. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B Battery
Rainfall is concentrated in two wet seasons (roughly corresponding to the spring and autumn of temperate latitudes) but varies considerably by location. Colombia's Pacific coast has one of the highest levels of rainfall in the world, with the south east often drenched by more than 200 in (500 cm) of rain per year. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU/Q Battery
On the other hand rainfall in parts of the Guajira Peninsula seldom exceeds 30 in (75 cm) per year. Rainfall in the rest of the country runs between these two extremes.
Colombians customarily describe their country in terms of the climatic zones. Below 900 meters (2,953 ft) in elevation is the tierra caliente (hot land), where temperatures vary between 24 and 38 °C (75.2 and 100.4 °F). Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B Battery
The most productive land and the majority of the population can be found in the tierra templada (temperate land, between 900 and 1,980 meters (2,953 and 6,496 ft)), which provide the best conditions for the country's coffee growers, and the tierra fría (cold land, 1,980 and 3,500 meters (6,496 and 11,483 ft)), where wheat and potatoes dominate. Sony VAIO VGN-AW120J/H Battery
In the tierra fría mean temperatures range between 10 and 19 °C (50 and 66.2 °F). Beyond the tierra fría lie the alpine conditions of the zona forestada (forested zone) and then the treeless grasslands of the páramos. Above 4,500 meters (14,764 ft), where temperatures are below freezing, is the tierra helada, a zone of permanent snow and ice. Sony VAIO VGN-AW150Y/H Battery
About 86% of the country's total area lies in the tierra caliente. Included in this, 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. The tierra fría constitutes just 6% of the total area, but supports about a quarter of the country's population. Sony VAIO VGN-AW160J/Q Battery
The hydrography of Colombia is one of the richest in the world. Its main rivers are Magdalena, Cauca, Guaviare, and Caquetá. 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 VGN-AW170Y/Q Battery
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 VGN-AW180Y/Q 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 VGN-AW190JAH 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 palm oil plantations. However, compared to neighbouring countries rates of deforestation in Colombia are still relatively low. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NAB 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,Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NBB Battery
while in response the government has fumigated these crops using hazardous chemicals. Insurgents have also destroyed oil pipelines creating major ecological disasters. Demand from rapidly expanding cities has placed increasing stress on the water supply as watersheds are affected and ground water tables fall. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NCB Battery
Nonetheless, Colombia is the fourth country in the world by magnitude of total freshwater supply, and still has large reserves of freshwater.
The government of Colombia takes place within the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic as established in the Constitution of 1991. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YAB 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 theVice President and the Council of Ministers. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YBB 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 VGN-AW190YCB Battery
The legislative branch of government is represented nationally by the Congress, a bicameral institution comprising a 166-seatChamber of Representatives and a 102-seat Senate. The Senate is elected nationally and the Chamber of Representatives by every region and minority groups. Members of both houses are elected to serve four-year terms two months before the president, also by popular vote. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YDB Battery
At the provincial level the legislative branch is represented by department 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 VGN-AW220J/B Battery
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 VGN-AW230J/H Battery
Colombia operates a system ofcivil law, which since 2005 has been applied through an adversarial system.
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). Departments are subdivided into municipalities, Sony VAIO VGN-AW235J/B Battery
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 VGN-AW290JFQ 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. Some departments have local administrative subdivisions, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF Battery
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 VGN-AW41JF/H Battery
Colombia's foreign relations are mostly concentrated on combating the illegal drug trade and fighting terrorism, both which originate with the FARC. Colombia, with the help of the United States, have fought the FARC and pushed them into the Amazon jungle, significantly reducing the drug trade and kidnappings within Colombia. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF Battery
This co-operation from the United States is mainly through Plan Colombia. Another foreign relation policy concentrates around expanding their international market and managing their international issues with other countries. Colombia enjoys special financial preferences from the European Union in certain product categories. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H Battery