Andes Overland

Colombia

Colombia - general - 7

Geography

Colombia’s neighboring countries are Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. Just like the other countries Colombia can be divided in several regions. In the western part of the country you can find the Andes region where the majority of the population is living.  The most populated are the metropolises in this region, Bogota, Medellin and Cali. Besides the Andean region also the Caribbean coast counts many residents, with the vast majority living in Cartagena and Barranquilla. Other regions in Colombia are the Pacific coast, the plains of Orinoco and the jungle. The jungle, also known as the Amazon covers 54% of the surface of the country. Due to the great amount of mountains in Colombia the country has got a load of rivers. The majority of these flows are heading east; this includes the Meta river, the Vichada river and the Guaviare river. Heading to the west we find the Magdalena and the Cauca.

 

History

In the pre-Columbian era there were different native populations in Colombia, of which the most important were the Chibcha, the Carib and the Arawak. These populations tried to banish each other to increase their own territory. In the first half of the 16th century, however, the Spaniards arrived in the country. They colonized Colombia hoping they would find gold. This occupation lasted until 1819, when after a fierce fight for independence, Simon Bolivar became the first president of Colombia.

Since the country had a poor political system and was in a poor economic situation there was a long period of commotion in Colombia. At the end of the 19th century the 1,000-day war begun in which tens of thousands of people lost their lives. Even after the war ended in 1902, there were still often bloody riots and incidents. In the 20th century several military and political dictatorships followed. The century ended with the social guerilla groups FARC and ELN fighting against the government. In 2006 Uribe got elected as president for the second time. He is trying to improve the situation of the country in which he seems to succeed.

 

Populations, language and religion

As mentioned before the majority of the people live in the Andes or the Caribbean coastal area. More than half of the population is mestizo (58%), 20% is white, 10,6% is of African origin and only 3.4% is indigenous. The overwhelming majority of Colombians speaks Spanish, but there are in total 101 languages listed for Colombia in the Ethnologue database. The specific number of spoken languages varies slightly since what some authors consider as different languages, others consider being varieties or dialects of the same language, the best estimates recorded that 70 languages are spoken in the country today. Most of these belong to the Chibchan, Arawak,Cariban, language families. While Colombia remains a mostly Roman Catholic country by baptism numbers, the 1991 Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion. Other religions in Colombia adhered by only 1.8% are Jehovah´s Witnesses  and Adventism. Less than 1% adheres to Islam, Judaism, Budhhism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Indigenous, Hare Krishna movement, Rastafari movement, Orthodox Catholic church, and spiritual studies. At last, 4.7% are Atheists nd Agnostics.

According to the development program of the United Nations 64% of the Colombians lived below the poverty line in the period of 2000-2007. In 2009 this was 49,2% and in 2011 the percentage further decreased to 45.5%.