Colombia facts for kids

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Republic of Colombia

República de Colombia  (Spanish)
Flag of Colombia
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
and largest city
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Official languages


English is also official in the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina.
Recognized regional languages 68
Ethnic groups
Demonym(s) Colombian
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
• President
Iván Duque Márquez
• Vice President
Marta Lucía Ramírez
• President of the Congress
Ernesto Macías
• President of the Supreme Court
José Luis Barceló
Legislature Congress
Chamber of Representatives
Independence from Spain
• Declared
July 20, 1810
• Recognized
August 7, 1819
• Last unitarisation
• Current constitution
July 4, 1991
• Total
1,141,748 km2 (440,831 sq mi) (25th)
• Water (%)
8.8 (17th)
• 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
GDP (nominal) 2019 estimate
• Total
$355.163 billion (32nd)
• Per capita
Gini (2017)  49.7
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 called Republic of Colombia), is a big country in South America. It is in the northwest part of that 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 both oceans (Pacific and Atlantic). Colombia has an extension of 9m² in those oceans.

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.

42,888,592 people live in Colombia. It is the third most populated country of Latin America after Mexico and Brazil.

The capital of Colombia is Bogotá. The second major city is Medellín, a big industrial center. The third largest city is Cali, home of 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 of the 17th Century and an old town with buildings aged 500 years. After these cities comes Bucaramanga, a large city near Venezuela's border, which holds the center of the textile industry in Colombia.


The word "Colombia" is named after Christopher Columbus, the explorer who discovered 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 dialects spoken by minorities.


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

Before the Spaniards

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 the scientists say that the first men came to America from Siberia or South East Asia more than 50,000 years ago. The peoples of Colombia were called Arawak, Caribe, and Chibcha. But they have many other groups. The most famous were the Muiscas. El Dorado legend comes from the Muiscas: the king of the Muiscas used to bath in the Guatavita Lake and he used a lot of gold for it. The Spaniards heard about and the people told them that there was a great golden city somewhere. Since then 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 countryside and in the cities.

The colony

The Spaniards lead by Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Columbus saw the coasts of Venezuela, Colombia and Panama and he gave them his own name. But it was Alonso de Ojeda the first to do an exploration in the area of Gulf of Darién. After that the Spaniards founded the first European cities in the American continent: Santa Marta in 1525 and Cartagena de Indias in 1533. It was from Colombia that the Spaniards conquered the Incas of Peru. They founded the city of Popayán in 1536 and they conquered the Confederation of the Muiscas. In Bacatá, the capital of the Muiscas, the Spaniards founded the city of Santa Fe in 1538. In 1550 the Spaniards declared the territory as a colony and its capital was Santa Fe de Bogotá, but in the first decades it depended from Peru. Soon after, it was declared a Viceroyalty.

The independence

Antonio Nariño was one of the most important persons to lead a movement for the independence of Colombia. He was a politician, journalist and soldier. Simon Bolivar was also another one of the most important person to lead a movement for the independence of Colombia. He was a president and a colonel.

On November 11, 1810, the city of Cartagena de Indias declared its dependence from Spain.


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).


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 Rain Forest.

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.


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.


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.

On Saturday, August 7, 2010, Juan Manuel Santos became Colombia's latest elected 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.


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


The population of Colombia was approximately 43 million as of 2005. The ethnic groups of the population are:


Up to 49.6% of the population is living below the poverty line.


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.


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 Sao 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.


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.


Colombia is known for its coffee, coal, and emeralds. It is also the biggest supplier of plantains to the United States. There are a few armed conflicts in Colombia. Most rebel groups finance their operations with the trade of illegal drugs (mostly cocaine).

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