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The Republic of Colombia
The Republic of Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America. It is located at the north-western tip of the continent. Its neighbors are Brazil and Venezuela to the east, Panama to the north-west, and Ecuador and Peru to the south. Colombia is the only South American country that's coast is on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. There are eight islands under Colombian rule, and they are San Andres, Providencia, San Bernado, Islas del Rosario, Isla Fuerte, Gorgona, Gorgonilla, and Malpelo. Colombia's terrain is about 45% mountainous. The major mountain chain is the Andes, which is the longest and second highest mountain chain in the world. The are three mountain ranges in Colombia that form the Andes. These are known as Cordilleras, which means range. The Cordillera Occidental is 680 miles long and is about 6,500 ft. high. This range is on the western area that stretches from the equator to the Caribbean Sea. The Cordillera Oriental is the longest range, at 750 miles long, and 8,530 ft. high and it cuts from northern Colombia to southern Colombia. The Cordillera Central is located in the center of the country and is 689 miles long and 10,827 ft. high making it the highest cordillera. The highest mountain point in Colombia is the Sierra Nevada at 19,055 ft. high. There are lots of volcanoes in Colombia. The Cumbal is 17,500 ft. high, the Chiles is 16,900 ft. high, the Purace is 17,060 ft. high, and the Pan de Azucar is 16,840 ft. high. The eastern region of Colombia is a grassy lowland. 1/6 of Colombia is uninhabited glacier land, and 1/5 is high plateau. Colombia has many rivers. The most important river is the Magdalena which is 965 miles long and flows north to the Caribbean Sea. Others are the Meta, the Amazon, the Guaviare, and the Putamayo. There aren't many lakes in Colombia. The largest lake in Colombia is Lake Cocha and is not very important. If it wasn't for the Andes mountain location, Colombia would have an extremely high climate since it is near the equator. However, Colombia's climate is strictly related to the altitude of the land and varies greatly from section to section. The hot region of Colombia has an average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and are from sea level to three thousand feet. This area is along the Pacific coast and in the eastern jungle region. Regions from three to six thousand feet above sea level have an average temperature of 65.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This area is in the northern section of the Andes and are mostly agricultural. Regions from six to nine thousand feet above sea level have an average temperature of 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and are considered cold. Most Colombians live in this region. Areas that are above nine thousand feet above sea level are the severely cold regions and are and have an average temperature of below 53 degrees Fahrenheit. The winter months in Colombia are May, June, July, August, September, October, and November. This is the rainy part of the year. Summer months are December, January, February, March, and April. This is the dry part of the year. Spring and Fall do not exist. The rainiest part of Colombia is the Choco area on the Pacific coast. It rains on afternoons and evenings every day of the rainy season. It averages 400 inches of rainfall per year. The driest spot is the Guijara Peninsula. It is located in the northern tip of Colombia, on the Caribbean Sea. It averages 10 inches of rain yearly. Because of Colombia's assorted climate it can grow a wide range of crops. Only five percent of Colombia's land is used for farming, although there is much more room to be used for farming. Coffee is the chief agricultural product, and Colombia is the world's second largest producer, after Brazil, because coffee beans grow best at an elevation between 4,300 and 6,600 feet. Sugarcane is grown in the hot temperate areas of the country. bananas are also grown in the warm areas. Maize is grown under most climatic conditions, except at the highest elevation. This crop is important to the poor people of the country. Rice is grown in the hot and humid regions. A major problem that Colombia faces is the cultivation of illegal drugs. The marijuana plants are grown in the Guajira Peninsula, because of the hot climate, and the soil is perfect from growing it. Also, the fact that the peninsula is on the Caribbean coast, makes it easy to export it on ship. Colombia supplies half of the marijuana purchased in the Unites States. Most people think that cocaine is grown in Colombia, because most of the cartels that distribute it are from Colombia, but it is not. It is grown in Peru and Bolivia.1 Other major crops are cotton, potatoes, manioc, wheat, barley, tobacco, cacao, and beans. Colombia is one of the predominate livestock producing country in South America. The amount of cattle in Colombia is almost as many as people there. Other livestock include horses, mules, donkey's, pigs, sheep, and goats. Colombia's aquatic wildlife is found mainly in the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, and in the Oceans. The Orinoco River holds many freshwater species such as guppies, neon tetras, and arapaima, which is the largest freshwater fish in the world. The Amazon hold dangerous piranhas, which travel in schools of 100 to 1,000, that tear flesh off animals. The Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea hold dolphins and stingray. Among the reptiles there are the anaconda, a water snake, and numerous lizards, and crocodiles. Among the mammal wildlife there are the gray-brown puma, the spotted ocelot which hunt on the plains, and the jaguar which lives near the streams to feed on the water animals. A strange animal is the stout tapir, with it's skinny legs, dainty hooves, and long snout. The blood-sucking vampire bat are found in Colombia, more than anywhere in the world. Colombia has over 1,500 species of birds such as the hummingbird, eagle, the shiny green jacamar, Colombia's most beautiful tropical bird, the parakeet, and the toucan. Colombia's history began at about 5,000 B.C. when Indian groups roamed the territory. About one third of them were of the Chibca tribe, who lived where Bogota is now located. The town Bogota, which is currently the country's capital, was named after Bacata, a Chibchan chief2. The Chibchans lived in villages and were organized by class, and the people's rank was inherited from their mother. They mined gold, and farmed maize, beans, and potatoes. Another tribe was the Quimbaya, who lived on the western slopes of the Cordillera Central. Like the Chibcha, these people were very skilled in making gold objects such as nose rings, ornaments, and necklaces. The rumors and stories of these Indian tribes making gold objects, lead Spaniard explorers to come to Colombia looking for El Dorado. There was a legend that there was a kingdom of gold known as El Dorado who's where abouts were unknown. Colombia is named after Christopher Columbus, although he never been on the Colombian mainland. On 1502 he sailed the Colombian shores. Colombia was actually discovered by Alonso de Ojeda, who was one of Christopher Columbus's men, in 1500. He was looking for El Dorado, but didn't find it. Him and his men stole many gold objects from the Indian tribes, who were very skilled goldsmiths, and took them back to Spain. From the period of 1499 to 1550, Colombian conquest and colonization began. Rodrigo de Bastidas founded the first permanent settlement in 1525 called Santa Marta. In 1533 another explorer named Pedro de Heredia founded a settlement called Cartagena. In 1536 the first expedition into Colombia's interior was made by Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. He lead his expedition up the Magdalena River. He eventually founded the settlement of Bogota. All these conquerors conquered the land for the possession of Spain. In 1549, King Charles V of Spain created something called an audencia of Colombia. An audencia is an administrative body headed by a representative of the king. It provided courts, a legislature, and a civil government for Colombia. The conquest by Spain gave Colombia the Spanish language, the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish love of literature. In 1717 Colombia was made part of a kingdom which included Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. This kingdom was called "The Kingdom of New Granada", and was owned by Spain, but in more distant way when Colombia was separate. By 1795 the New Granada people were unsatisfied with the way the Spaniards ruled. Taxes were way to high, and it all went to Madrid. Also, they weren't getting treated humanely by Spain. Word had spread out around the area of French colonies rebelling for independence. When Napoleon's forces invaded Spain, the leaders decided to take advantage of Spain's weakness and proposed independence on July 20, 1810. Spain refused and reestablished it's self control over New Granada. On August 7, 1819, Simon Bolivar of Venezuela organized and lead an attack, and defeated the Spanish forces at the Battle of Boyaca. A few months later, Venezuela and Colombia were united to form the Greater Colombian Confederation. Simon Bolivar was President. In 1830, the Confederation ended because Venezuela wanted independence. Today, Colombia is a parliamentary republic with presidential elections held every four years. The congress holds sessions every year between July and December and consists of two houses the Chamber of Deputies, which has 131 elected members, and the Senate with 63 members. The President appoints cabinet members and cheifs of administrations. Colombia is divided into 23 departments, and the president appoints a governer to head each department. The current president is Cesar Gaviria Trujillo. Colombia's population today is approximately 34,296,000. 95% of these people are Roman Catholic. The capital, Bogota has an estimated 4,921,00 people, and the second largest city, Cali, has 1,624,00 people. After Mexico and Brazil, Colombia is the third most populolus country in Latin America.3 About one half of the population today is mestizo, a mixture of Indian and European descent.4 Europeans are about one fifth of the population, and and there are some blacks, and about 400 Indian tribes.


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