Country Colombia


A nation in NW South America, bordering on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its name honors Christopher Columbus. Pottery dating back nearly 5,000 years has been found in Colombia. Between a.d. 500 and 1000 the Quimbaya culture flourished, followed by the Chibcha, which began its rise c. a.d. 1200. Europeans first saw the area in 1499 when Alonso de Ojeda, a Spanish conquistador, explored the southwestern coast of the Caribbean. Two years later Rodrigo de Bastidas, another Spaniard, discovered the mouth of the Magdalena River. Later, in 1525, he founded Santa Marta, the oldest city in Colombia. In 1536 Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada conquered the Chibcha and turned their main center, Bogota, into a Spanish settlement in 1538. Sebastian de Benalcazar founded Cali and Popayan in 1536 and Pasto in 1539. These two conquistadores, along with a German adventurer, Nikolaus Federmann, were searching for El Hombre Dorado, the “Golden Man,” after tales of the Chibcha custom of covering a new chief with gold dust had grown into the legend of the fabulous land of El Dorado. Two other early Colombian cities were Cartagena, founded in 1533, and Tunja, founded in 1539.

From 1717 to 1722 and then from 1739 on, Colombia was part of the Spanish viceroyalty of New Granada, along with present Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama. The first revolt for independence took place in Bogota in 1810, but freedom was not won until 1819 when Simon Bolivar of Venezuela led an army to victory on August 7 at Boyaca. In 1821 the four parts of the viceroyalty became the nation of Gran, or Great, Colombia with Bolivar as president. In 1830 Ecuador and Venezuela withdrew, however, and Colombia, including what is now Panama, became the nation of New Granada. In 1863 it changed its name to the United States of Colombia. The 19th century was marked by political conflict that at times became civil war between factions of the right and left. In 1878 Colombia gave a French company a concession to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, but the project failed. The Hay-Herran Treaty of 1903 transferred this right to the United States, and in return Colombia was to receive $10 million and an annuity of $250,000. When the Colombian senate refused to ratify the treaty, a revolt on November 3, aided by the United States, made Panama a separate nation. In 1921 Colombia recognized Panamanian independence after a U.S. payment of $25 million.

A clash with Peru arose in 1932 over ownership of Leticia and its region, and in 1934 the League of Nations awarded it to Colombia. The years from the late 1940s to the late 1950s were marked by bloody civil strife—la Violencia. In 1957 the exhausted liberals and conservatives formed a coalition that lasted until 1978 and resulted in less violence. The government of Liberal Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, elected president in 1978, claimed to have destroyed the main guerrilla group, but violence continued into the 1980s. In 1982 Conservative Party cand idate Belisario Betancur was elected president. The 1980s and 1990s saw much civil strife between right-wing and left-wing militias and government forces. The situation was complicated by the presence and support of “narcolords” from the Medellin and Cali drug cartels that have supported different sides at times in exchange for some protection of the cocaine trade. In 1993 the Medellin drug cartel was broken, and the Cali cartel was later undermined by arrests of key leaders. In 1998 Conservative Andres Pastrana Arango, a former mayor of Bogota, was elected president. Pastrana started negotiations with the leftist FARC rebels, and started to implement his “Plan Colombia,” a $7 billion social aid and antidrug program that included $1.3 billion in largely military aid from the United States. In 2002, after FARC hijacked an airliner, Pastrana ordered the military to attack rebel bases in their mountainous zone of control. FARC responded with attacks against Columbia’s power and telecommunications infrastructure. Hard-line rightist cand idate Alvaro Uribe Velez won the 2002 elections and continued the military crackdown on FARC with limited success. Some of the paramilitary “narco-militias,” deprived of their revenue by antidrug operations, began negotiating demobilization.

In 2005, bounty hunters in Venezuela captured and delivered a FARC leader to Colombia, an act that caused friction with the Venezuelan government. Bogota is the capital and largest city. Others are Medellin, Cali, and Barranquilla.

Colombia Images


Colombia: Top Cities

Bogota 7,102,602 Bogota D.C. -74.08 x 4.61 America/Bogota
Cali 2,392,877 Departamento del Valle del Cauca -76.52 x 3.44 America/Bogota
Medellin 1,999,979 Departamento de Antioquia -75.54 x 6.29 America/Bogota
Barranquilla 1,380,425 Atlantico -74.80 x 10.96 America/Bogota
Cartagena 952,024 Departamento de Bolivar -75.51 x 10.40 America/Bogota
Cucuta 721,398 Departamento de Norte de Santand er -72.51 x 7.88 America/Bogota
Bucaramanga 571,820 Departamento de Santand er -73.13 x 7.13 America/Bogota
Pereira 440,118 Departamento de Risaralda -75.70 x 4.81 America/Bogota
Santa Marta 431,781 Departamento del Magdalena -74.20 x 11.25 America/Bogota
Ibague 421,685 Departamento de Tolima -75.23 x 4.44 America/Bogota
Bello 392,939 Departamento de Antioquia -75.56 x 6.34 America/Bogota
Pasto 382,236 Departamento de Narino -77.28 x 1.21 America/Bogota
Manizales 357,814 Departamento de Caldas -75.52 x 5.07 America/Bogota
Neiva 352,855 Departamento del Huila -75.28 x 2.93 America/Bogota
Soledad 342,556 Atlantico -74.77 x 10.92 America/Bogota
Villavicencio 321,717 Departamento del Meta -73.63 x 4.14 America/Bogota
Armenia 315,328 Departamento del Quindio -75.68 x 4.53 America/Bogota
Soacha 313,945 Cundinamarca -74.22 x 4.59 America/Bogota
Valledupar 308,237 Departamento del Cesar -73.25 x 10.48 America/Bogota
Itagui 281,853 Departamento de Antioquia -75.61 x 6.17 America/Bogota
Monteria 272,420 Departamento de Cordoba -75.89 x 8.76 America/Bogota
Sincelejo 261,187 Departamento de Sucre -75.40 x 9.30 America/Bogota
Popayan 258,653 Departamento del Cauca -76.61 x 2.44 America/Bogota
Floridablanca 252,267 Departamento de Santand er -73.09 x 7.06 America/Bogota
Palmira 247,986 Departamento del Valle del Cauca -76.30 x 3.54 America/Bogota
Buenaventura 240,387 Departamento del Valle del Cauca -77.07 x 3.89 America/Bogota
Barrancabermeja 191,403 Departamento de Santand er -73.85 x 7.07 America/Bogota
Dos Quebradas 179,583 Departamento de Risaralda -75.67 x 4.83 America/Bogota
Tulua 165,501 Departamento del Valle del Cauca -76.20 x 4.09 America/Bogota
Envigado 163,007 Departamento de Antioquia -75.56 x 6.17 America/Bogota