kids encyclopedia robot

Colombia facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Republic of Colombia

República de Colombia  (Spanish)
Coat of arms of Colombia
Coat of arms
Motto: "Libertad y Orden" (Spanish)
"Freedom and Order"
Anthem: Himno Nacional de la República de Colombia  (Spanish)
(English: "National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia")
Location of  Colombia  (dark green)in South America  (grey)
Location of  Colombia  (dark green)

in South America  (grey)

Location of Colombia
Capital
and largest city
Bogotá
4°35′N 74°4′W / 4.583°N 74.067°W / 4.583; -74.067
Official languages Spanish
Recognized languages English (in the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina)
Recognized regional languages 68
Ethnic groups
(2005)
Demonym(s) Colombian
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Iván Duque Márquez
• Vice President
Marta Lucía Ramírez
• President of the Congress
Ernesto Macías
Legislature Congress
Senate
Chamber of Representatives
Independence from Spain
• Declared
July 20, 1810
• Recognized
August 7, 1819
• Last unitarisation
1886
• Current constitution
July 4, 1991
Area
• Total
1,141,748 km2 (440,831 sq mi) (25th)
• Water (%)
8.8 (17th)
Population
• July 2019 estimate
Increase48,258,494 (29th)
• Density
42.23/km2 (109.4/sq mi) (173rd)
GDP (PPP) 2019 estimate
• Total
$791.995 billion (31st)
• Per capita
$15,719
GDP (nominal) 2019 estimate
• Total
$355.163 billion (32nd)
• Per capita
$7,049
Gini (2017)  49.7
high
HDI (2017) Increase 0.747
high · 90th
Currency Peso (COP)
Time zone UTC−5 (COT)
Date format dd−mm−yyyy (CE)
Driving side right
Calling code +57
ISO 3166 code CO
Internet TLD .co
  1. Although the Colombian Constitution specifies Spanish (Castellano) as the official language in all Colombian territory, other languages spoken in the country by ethnic groups – approximately 68 languages – each is also official in its own territory. English is also official in the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina.
  2. The official Colombian time is controlled and coordinated by the National Institute of Metrology.

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a tropical equatorial country in northern South America. It is in the northwest part of the continent, and it has an area of 1,141,748 km² (440,839 sq mi).

It is the only South American country with coasts on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

The countries that have borders on the continent with Colombia are: Venezuela (east), Brazil (southeast), Peru (south), Ecuador (southwest) and Panama (west). The countries that have borders with Colombia on the sea are: Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti and Dominican Republic.

More than 50 million people live in Colombia. It is the third most populated country in Latin America after Mexico and Brazil.

The capital of Colombia is Bogotá. The second city is Medellín, a large industrial center. The third largest city is Cali, home to many multinational companies. The most important city of the country on the Caribbean coast is Barranquilla. It was also the first national port. Cartagena de Indias has a great Spanish wall from the 17th Century and an old town with 500-year-old buildings. After these cities comes Bucaramanga, a large city near the Venezuelan border, and the center of the textile industry in Colombia.

Meaning

The word "Colombia" is named after Christopher Columbus, the explorer who began the European colonization of the Americas.

In 1819, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama declared independence from Spain, and formed a country called "Gran Colombia". Venezuela and Ecuador separated in 1830. Panama continued to be part of Colombia until 1903, at which point it proclaimed independence. The official language is Spanish, but there are many languages spoken by minorities and official in theirs jurisdiction.

History

Columbus Taking Possession
Christopher Columbus came to America leading the Spanish. He gave the name of "Colombia" to what is today "America".

Before the Spanish

The land where Colombia now stands has been home to people for more than 20,000 years. The first people had many groups, cultures, and languages. There are many tools, caves, and things of those peoples. In Colombia, the peoples were similar to those of Asia, because scientists say that the first people came to America from Siberia or southeast Asia more than 50,000 years ago. The peoples of Colombia were called Arawak, Caribe, and Chibcha, but there were many other groups. The most famous were the Muiscas. legend of El Dorado comes from the Muiscas. The king of the Muiscas used to bathe in Lake Guatavita and he used a lot of gold for his bath. The Spanish heard about this, and the people told them that there was a great golden city somewhere. They started to look for El Dorado. The International Airport of Bogotá is called El Dorado International Airport, because the legend was born in Colombia. The descendants of the first peoples of Colombia live integrated with others. Some groups live in the forest, but many live in the countryside and in the cities.

The colony

The Spanish, led by Christopher Columbus, first came to the Americas in 1492. Columbus saw the coasts of Venezuela, Colombia and Panama and he gave them his own name. But Alonso de Ojeda was the first colonist to explore the area of the Gulf of Darién. After that, the Spanish founded the first European cities on the American continent: Santa Marta in 1525 and Cartagena de Indias in 1533. It was from Colombia that the Spanish conquered the Incas of Peru.

Spain would enslave the indigenous peoples who were already living there, but they also used the port they built at Cartagena to bring many black slaves from Africa into the area. The Spanish captured many, many people from Africa and forced them to work on plantations and ranches, in mines, and as personal servants.

While this was happening, they founded the city of Popayán in 1536 and they conquered the Confederation of the Muiscas. In Bacatá, the capital of the Muiscas, the Spanish founded the city of Santa Fe in 1538. In 1550 the Spanish declared the territory as a colony and its capital was Santa Fe de Bogotá, but in the first decades it depended on Peru. Soon after, it was declared a Viceroyalty.

Independence

On November 11, 1810, the city of Cartagena de Indias declared its independence from Spain. The whole region would fight a war to become independent, led by people like Antonio Nariño and Simón Bolívar. Nariño was one of the most important leaders in the war for the independence of Colombia. He was a politician, journalist and soldier. Bolivar was another important leader, and he was a president and a colonel. Bolivar had promised Alexandre Pétion, the president of Haiti, that he would abolish slavery during his independence war. But he only agreed because he was afraid the slaves would revolt against the slaveowners, like they did in Haiti, and only freed slaves if they agreed to fight in his army. He never freed all the slaves, and slavery was not abolished in Colombia until 1851.

Geography

The geography of Colombia has six main natural regions. Each has its own unique characteristics. The Andes mountain region shares borders with Ecuador and Venezuela. The Pacific Coast region shares borders with Panama and Ecuador. The Caribbean coastal region shares borders with Venezuela and Panama. The Llanos (plains) shares a border with Venezuela. The Amazon Rainforest region shares a border with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. The insular region includes all the islands of the country.

The main rivers of Colombia are Magdalena, Cauca, Guaviare, Atrato, Meta, Putumayo and Caquetá. Colombia has four main drainage systems: the Pacific drain, the Caribbean drain, the Orinoco Basin and the Amazon Basin.

Most of the population lives in the Andes region. But the plains make over half the land. Only about 6% of the people live in the plains. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range includes the country's tallest peaks (Pico Cristóbal Colón and Pico Simón Bolívar).

Climate

Nevado del tolima
The top of a mountain called the Nevado del Tolima volcano

Colombia's temperature changes with the altitude, and the temperature is different by region. The regions around the Andes are colder than the coast, which is lower.

Because of the many altitudes, Colombia has many different fruits, vegetables and kinds of animals. It has many valleys, beaches, plains, mountains and forests like the Amazon rainforest.

The top of some of the mountains in Colombia are so cold that people can ski over the equator. The lower mountains have warmer climates. The sea shores are cooled by ocean breezes. At sea level near the equator it is hot.

Rivers are important as waterways in the land for shipping things. One of the most important rivers in Colombia is the Magdalena-Cauca. The Magdelena River divides the eastern and center mountains. It makes a fertile valley. The Cauca River divides the center mountain range and the western ridge, making another great valley. The Cauca is really a part of the Magdalena. However, the two do not meet until a few miles before the Magdalena goes into the Caribbean Sea.

Biodiversity

Colombia is a megadiverse country. This means the country is home to a majority of Earth's species. There are also a high number of endemic species.

Colombia has 1,900 species of bird, more than any other country. There are about 2,000 species of marine fish. It is the second most diverse country in freshwater fish. As for plants, the country has between 40,000 and 45,000 species. Colombia is second in the number of amphibian species and is the third most diverse country in reptiles. There are about 2,900 species of mollusks and about 300,000 species of invertebrates.

Politics

In May 2006, President Álvaro Uribe was re-elected. His term lasted until 2010. Uribe was the first President in Colombia to win a second election in over 100 years.

In August 2010, Juan Manuel Santos became Colombia's president. Santos won the election on June 20 by a landslide. He promised to "preside over a government of national unity that will bring social prosperity for all Colombians"

Eight years later, conservative Senator Iván Duque Márquez was elected President and soon became the nation's latest president. He won the election by 2 million votes against his rival liberal Senator Gustavo Petro.

Departments

Colombia is divided into 32 departments and one capital district. The capital district is treated as a department. Departments are divided into municipalities. Municipalities are divided into corregimientos. 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. Each corregimiento by an elected corregidor, or local leader.

 Department Capital city
1 Flag of the Department of Amazonas Amazonas Leticia
2 Flag of the Department of Antioquia Antioquia Medellín
3 Flag of the Department of Arauca Arauca Arauca
4 Flag of the Department of Atlántico Atlántico Barranquilla
5 Flag of the Department of Bolívar Bolívar Cartagena
6 Flag of the Department of Boyacá Boyacá Tunja
7 Flag of the Department of Caldas Caldas Manizales
8 Flag of the Department of Caquetá Caquetá Florencia
9 Flag of the Department of Casanare Casanare   Yopal
10 Flag of the Department of Cauca Cauca Popayán
11 Flag of the Department of Cesar Cesar Valledupar      
12 Flag of the Department of Chocó Chocó Quibdó
13 Flag of the Department of Córdoba Córdoba Montería
14 Flag of the Department of Cundinamarca Cundinamarca Bogotá
15 Flag of the Department of Guainía Guainía Inírida
16 Flag of the Department of Guaviare Guaviare San José del Guaviare
17 Flag of the Department of Huila Huila Neiva
 Department Capital city
18 Flag of Nueva Esparta La Guajira   Riohacha
19 Flag of the Department of Magdalena Magdalena Santa Marta
20 Flag of the Department of Meta Meta Villavicencio
21 Flag of the Department of Nariño Nariño Pasto
22 Flag of the Department of Norte de Santander Norte de Santander Cúcuta
23 Flag of the Department of Putumayo Putumayo Mocoa
24 Flag of the Department of Quindío Quindío Armenia
25 Flag of the Department of Risaralda Risaralda Pereira
26 Flag of the Department of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina San Andrés, Providencia
and Santa Catalina
San Andrés
27 Flag of the Department of Santander Santander Bucaramanga
28 Flag of the Department of Sucre Sucre Sincelejo
29 Flag of the Department of Tolima Tolima Ibagué
30 Flag of the Department of Valle del Cauca Valle del Cauca Cali
31 Flag of the Department of Vichada Vaupés Mitú
32 Flag of the Department of Vichada Vichada Puerto Carreño
33 Flag of Bogotá Bogotá Capital District Bogotá Capital District

Demographics

The population of Colombia was approximately 47 million as of 2016. The ethnic groups of the population are:

  • 48% Mestizo
  • 23% Mulatto
  • 20% White
  • 6% Black
  • 2% Amerindian
  • 1% Zambo

Security

There are several guerilla groups in Colombia, the FARC being the most powerful, a guerilla group responsible for kidnappings, murders, attacks, and drug-dealing. Drug dealing is a problem the government has been trying to fight. This creates violence in the cities. With Operation: Jaque, Ingrid Betancourt, three Americans, and 11 soldiers were rescued from the FARC.

Transport

Most parts of Colombia are modern and the country has many roads. All major Colombian cities have airports and there are many ports on both oceans (Pacific and Atlantic). Because Colombia is a huge country and there are many mountains, airports are very important in the country. There are some regions like the Amazon Forest and Dariend, where the most important way of transportation is by the rivers.

  • Roads: The Pan American Highway in South America begins in Colombia. You can go as far as Tierra de Fuego in Chile using that road. Most of the Colombian cities are connected by road in Colombia. The most important roads are the Bogotá-Medellín Highway, the Bogotá-Cali Highway, the Bogotá-Cucuta Highway, the Bogotá-Barranquilla Highway and many others connecting big cities like Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena de Indias with other important centers. You can go by road from Bogotá to Caracas, Venezuela and Quito, Ecuador. The major cities have bus stations.
  • Airports: They are very important in Colombia and all the main cities have their own airports. The El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá is the most important. The Palmaseca International Airport in Cali is the second most important. Other important airports are the ones of Medellín, Barranquilla, San Andrés and Cartagena de Indias. The Colombian airports have international connections with most of the South American capitals, North America and Europe. The main Colombian airline is Avianca and it is the second oldest world airline and one of the most important in Latin America.
  • Ports: Colombia has coasts on both oceans - Atlantic and Pacific - and it is one of the first world water reserve because it has many rivers and lakes. The longest rivers are the Amazon, Magdalena, Cauca, and the Atrato. The main ports on the Atlantic coast are Barranquilla, which was the first Colombian port, Cartagena de Indias and Santa Marta. There are other ones like Rioacha and Turbo. The ports on the Pacific coast are Buenaventura and Tumaco. The port of the San Andres Island is also one of the most important for the country in the Caribbean and Antillean Sea. The city of Leticia is a very important river port on the Amazon river.
  • Train: The National Train was very important to Colombia during the 20th century, but it was forgotten when roads and airports were developed. Today the railways in Colombia are used more for tour visits, and they are not modern.
  • Transportation in the cities: The major Colombian cities have a very good system of transportation. There are public buses that connect the suburbs to the center of the cities. There are many taxi companies in Colombia. There are also very modern urban transports in the main cities like Transmilenio in Bogotá, the Metro in Medellín, and similar proposals in Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena de Indias and many others that are being developed.

Cities

BOG187
Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and the second largest capital of South America
Centro de Medellin- Colombia
Medellín is known as "the City of the Everlasting Spring"
Panoramica aleko
Cali, "the World Capital of Salsa"
See also: List of cities in Colombia

Colombia also has some very well known cities.

  • Bogotá is the second largest capital city of South America after Buenos Aires and the third largest city after Buenos Aires and São Paulo. It is also one of the highest capital cities of the world, 2640 meters above sea level. It has a very active cultural, political, industrial and commercial life. Bogotá also has many international meetings, seminars, NGOs, organizations, universities, telecommunication centers and conventions. It is in the Andes. Many famous Colombians come from Bogotá like Rafael Pombo, José Asunción Silva and Juan Pablo Montoya.
  • Medellín is the second largest city of Colombia. At the end of the 20th Century it was known as the "most violent city of the world" because it was the hometown of Pablo Escobar, the leader of the Colombian Mafia. Now Medellín is safer and has become a very beautiful city. It is a very important industrial center, the first commercial area of the country and a leader in health care and medicine. Many foreigners come to Medellín for health services. It is in the Andes and it is known as the "City of the Eternal Spring" because it has nice weather. Many famous Colombians come from Medellín like the singer Juanes, the soccer player René Higuita, the artist Fernando Botero and many others.
  • Cali is the third largest city. It is very famous for its plantations of sugar cane. Cali is known as the "World Capital of Salsa". In Cali there are many skillful salsa dancers and very important Salsa groups. Cali is also a very modern city. It is an industrial city and its airport is the second in Colombia. Near Cali is the port city of Buenaventura in the Pacific Ocean. Cali is in a valley of the Andes. The name of the Valley is Cauca because it is crossed by the Cauca River.
  • Barranquilla is the fourth largest city and it was the first city in Colombia on the Caribbean Sea. Barranquilla is famous for its trade and international connections because it has a big port. The Colombian singer Shakira is from Barranquilla.
  • Cartagena de Indias is the most important tourist center in Colombia on the Caribbean Sea. It is also a very beautiful city. Many tourist come to visit the city.
  • Bucaramanga is near the Colombian border with Venezuela. This city is a great destination for travelers due to its Spanish history and its technological & urban development; it is a very popular city.
  • Eje Cafetero (Coffee Growing Axis) is the name of the region where coffee is grown in Colombia. There are three important cities: Pereira, Manizales and Armenia.

Science

Colombia has made many advances in medicine. Many foreigners come to the country to get health services, such as organ transplants or plastic surgery. Doctor Manuel Elkin Patarroyo of Colombia discovered a medicine against malaria. He donated his discovery to be used in Africa and Latin America. He did not want to make business of it, instead he wanted to use it to help people.

Economy

Colombia Product Exports (2019)
A proportional representation of Colombia, 2019

Colombia is rich in natural resources, and its main exports include mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, fruit and other agricultural products, sugars and sugar confectionery, food products, plastics, precious stones, metals, forest products, chemical goods, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, electronic products, electrical equipment, perfumery and cosmetics, machinery, manufactured articles, textile and fabrics, clothing and footwear, glass and glassware, furniture, prefabricated buildings, military products, home and office material, construction equipment, software, among others. Principal trading partners are the United States, China, the European Union and some Latin American countries.

Non-traditional exports have boosted the growth of Colombian foreign sales as well as the diversification of destinations of export thanks to new free trade agreements.

The contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was US$5,880.3bn (2.0% of total GDP) in 2016. Tourism generated 556,135 jobs (2.5% of total employment) in 2016. Foreign tourist visits were predicted to have risen from 0.6 million in 2007 to 4 million in 2017.

Cuisine

Sancocho de gallina criolla
Sancocho de gallina criolla is a traditional soup in Colombia.

Colombia's varied cuisine is influenced by its diverse fauna and flora as well as the cultural traditions of the ethnic groups. Colombian dishes and ingredients vary widely by region. Some of the most common ingredients are: cereals such as rice and maize; tubers such as potato and cassava; assorted legumes; meats, including beef, chicken, pork and goat; fish; and seafood. Colombia cuisine also features a variety of tropical fruits such as cape gooseberry, feijoa, arazá, dragon fruit, mangostino, granadilla, papaya, guava, mora (blackberry), lulo, soursop and passionfruit. Colombia is one of the world's largest consumers of fruit juices.

Among the most representative appetizers and soups are patacones (fried green plantains), sancocho de gallina (chicken soup with root vegetables) and ajiaco (potato and corn soup). Representative snacks and breads are pandebono, arepas (corn cakes), aborrajados (fried sweet plantains with cheese), torta de choclo, empanadas and almojábanas. Representative main courses are bandeja paisa, lechona tolimense, mamona, tamales and fish dishes (such as arroz de lisa), especially in coastal regions where kibbeh, suero, costeño cheese and carimañolas are also eaten. Representative side dishes are papas chorreadas (potatoes with cheese), remolachas rellenas con huevo duro (beets stuffed with hard-boiled egg) and arroz con coco (coconut rice). Organic food is a current trend in big cities, although in general across the country the fruits and veggies are very natural and fresh.

Representative desserts are buñuelos, natillas, Maria Luisa cake, bocadillo made of guayaba (guava jelly), cocadas (coconut balls), casquitos de guayaba (candied guava peels), torta de natas, obleas, flan de mango, roscón, milhoja, manjar blanco, dulce de feijoa, dulce de papayuela, torta de mojicón, and esponjado de curuba. Typical sauces (salsas) are hogao (tomato and onion sauce) and Colombian-style ají.

Some representative beverages are coffee (Tinto), champús, cholado, lulada, avena colombiana, sugarcane juice, aguapanela, aguardiente, hot chocolate and fresh fruit juices (often made with water or milk).

Related pages

Images for kids

kids search engine
Colombia Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.