officially Republic of Colombia, Spanish Repblica de Colombia country of northwestern South America. Its 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of coast to the north are bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, and its 800 miles (1,300 km) of coast to the west are washed by the Pacific Ocean. The country is bordered by Panama, which divides the two bodies of water, on the northwest, Venezuela and Brazil on the east, and Peru and Ecuador on the south. Its area of 440,831 square miles (1,141,748 square km)more than twice the size of Franceincludes the San Andrs y Providencia archipelago, located off the Nicaraguan coast in the Caribbean, some 400 miles (650 km) northwest of the Colombian mainland. The population is largely concentrated in the mountainous interior, where Bogot, the national capital, is situated on a high plateau in the northern Andes Mountains. The only American nation that is named for Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the New World, Colombia presents a remarkable study in contrasts, in both its geography and its society. The lofty snow-tipped peaks of the country's interior cordilleras tower high above equatorial forests and savannas where surviving Indian groups still follow the lifeways and traditions of their ancestors. In the cooler mountains, at intermediate elevations, modern cities are juxtaposed with traditional rural landscapes where mestizo farmers cultivate their small plots of coffee, corn (maize), and other crops. The more accessible Atlantic lowlands, dominated by large livestock haciendas and a tri-ethnic population, have a distinctively different character. Colombia strongly reflects its history as a colony of Spain. It is often referred to as the most Roman Catholic of the South American countries, and most of its people are proud of the relative purity of their Spanish language. Its population is heavily mestizo (of mixed European and Indian descent) with substantial minorities of European and African ancestry. The economy is traditionally based on agriculture, particularly coffee and fruit production, but industries and services are increasing in importance. Colombia is the most populous nation of Spanish-speaking South America. More than one-third of its inhabitants live in the six largest metropolitan areas, of which Bogot is the largest. The nation's political instability has been historically tied to the unequal distribution of wealth, and the illicit trade in drugs (mainly cocaine) remains a major disruptive factor in Colombian life. Additional reading Geography General works Basic descriptive information is available in The South American Handbook (annual); and Dennis M. Hanratty and Sandra W. Meditz (eds.), Colombia: A Country Study, 4th ed. (1990). See also relevant sections of Arthur Morris, South America, 4th ed. (1995); and Preston E. James, C.W. Minkel, and Eileen W. James, Latin America, 5th ed. (1986). A general atlas is Instituto Geogrfico Agustn Codazzi, Atlas de Colombia, 4th ed., rev. and enlarged (1992). Statistical information may be found in Colombia estadstica (annual). Essays on politics, economics, and literature are found in Mario Arrubla et al., Colombia, hoy (1996). Prehistoric cultural developments in Colombia are outlined in G. Reichel-Dolmatoff, Colombia (1965); and in Warwick Bray, Gold of El Dorado (1979). The land and the people William F. Jenks (ed.), Handbook of South American Geology: An Explanation of the Geologic Map of South America (1956), contains technical information on the physical features of the continent, including those of Colombia. See also Vctor Manuel Patio, Los recursos naturales de Colombia: aproximacin y retrospectiva (1980); and Ernesto Guhl, Henry Corredor T., and Francisco Snchez H., La Sabana de Bogot, sus alrededores y su vegetacin (1981). Distribution of plants and animals is discussed in E.J. Fittkau et al. (eds.), Biogeography and Ecology in South America, 2 vol. (196869). Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown, A Guide to the Birds of Colombia (1986), is an authoritative work. Analyses of Colombia's agricultural progress include T. Lynn Smith, Colombia: Social Structure and the Process of Development (1967); and Dieter Brunnschweiler, The Llanos Frontier of Colombia: Environment and Changing Land Use in Meta (1972). Studies of the people and geography of specific areas are found in Orlando Fals-Borda, Peasant Society in the Colombian Andes: A Sociological Study of Sauco (1955, reprinted 1976), a highly recommended work on social organization, culture, and ecology; B. Le Roy Gordon, Human Geography and Ecology in the Sin Country of Colombia (1957, reprinted 1977), a regional study of northern Colombia; and James J. Parsons, Antioqueo Colonization in Western Colombia, 2nd rev. ed. (1968), and Antioquia's Corridor to the Sea: An Historical Geography of the Settlement of Urab (1967). Race relations are considered in Peter Wade, Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia (1993, reissued 1995). The economy Economic development and current policy are discussed in Colombia: Economic Structure (annual), a report issued by the Economic Research Department of Colombia's Banco de la Repblica; William Paul McGreevey, An Economic History of Colombia 18451930 (1971), and The Transition to Economic Growth in Colombia, in Roberto Corts Conde and Shane J. Hunt (eds.), The Latin American Economies: Growth and the Export Sector, 18801930 (1985), pp. 2381; Miguel Urrutia, Winners and Losers in Colombia's Economic Growth of the 1970s (1985); World Bank, Colombia: Economic Development and Policy Under Changing Conditions (1984); R. Albert Berry and Ronald Soligo (eds.), Economic Policy and Income Distribution in Colombia (1980); R. Albert Berry and Miguel Urrutia, Income Distribution in Colombia (1976); and David Morawetz, Why the Emperor's New Clothes Are Not Made in Colombia (1980). Government Books that place 20th-century Colombian government in the historical context of the country are Harvey F. Kline, Colombia: Democracy Under Assault, 2nd ed. (1995); John D. Martz, Colombia: A Contemporary Political Survey (1962, reprinted 1975); and Robert H. Dix, Colombia: The Political Dimensions of Change (1967). Also useful are Robert H. Dix, The Politics of Colombia (1987); Jonathan Hartlyn, The Politics of Coalition Rule in Colombia (1988); Jorge Osterling, Democracy in Colombia: Clientelist Politics and Guerrilla Warfare (1989); Eduardo Posada-Carb (ed.), Colombia: The Politics of Reforming the State (1998); Francisco Leal Buitrago and Andrs Dvila L., Clientelismo: el sistema poltico y su expresin regional (1990); and John D. Martz, The Politics of Clientelism: Democracy & the State in Colombia (1997). Cultural life Jorge Arango and Carlos Martnez, Arquitectura en Colombia: arquitectura colonial 15381810, arquitectura contempornea en cinco aos 19461951 (1951), is a fine text in Spanish, English, and French covering these two important periods. George List, Music and Poetry in a Colombian Village: A Tri-Cultural Heritage (1983), is a study of the indigenous musical heritage. Ernesto Porras Collantes, Bibliografa de la novela en Colombia (1976), includes plot summaries, excerpts from reviews, and lists of translations. History General works include Academia Colombiana de Historia, Historia extensa de Colombia, ed. by Luis Martnez Delgado (1964 ), a multivolume work covering all facets of Colombian history from precolonial to contemporary times, useful to the specialist; and Robert H. Davis, Historical Dictionary of Colombia, 2nd ed. (1993), a convenient reference for people, events, and other aspects of Colombian history, with an excellent bibliography. Also useful is David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself (1993).Treatments of specific periods in Colombian history include Marco Palacios, Coffee in Colombia, 18501970: An Economic, Social, and Political History (1980; originally published in Spanish, 1979), an outstanding resource; David Bushnell, The Santander Regime in Gran Colombia (1954, reissued 1970); Charles W. Bergquist, Coffee and Conflict in Colombia: 18861910 (1978, reissued 1986); Stephen J. Randall, The Diplomacy of Modernization: Colombian-American Relations, 19201940 (1977); Vernon Lee Fluharty, Dance of the Millions: Military Rule and the Social Revolution in Colombia, 19301956 (1957, reprinted 1975); James D. Henderson, When Colombia Bled: A History of the Violencia in Tolima (1985); Herbert Braun, The Assassination of Gaitn: Public Life and Urban Violence in Colombia (1985); Paul Oquist, Violence, Conflict, and Politics in Colombia (1980); and R. Albert Berry, Ronald G. Hellman, and Mauricio Solan (eds.), Politics of Compromise: Coalition Government in Colombia (1980). See also Orlando Fals-Borda, Subversion and Social Change in Colombia, rev. ed. (1969; originally published in Spanish, 1967). Drugs, guerrilla groups, paramilitary squads, and violence in Colombia are considered in Carlos Gustavo Arrieta et al., Narcotrfico en Colombia: dimensiones polticas, econmicas, jurdicas e internacionales, 3rd ed. (1991); Charles Bergquist, Ricardo Pearanda, and Gonzalo Snchez (eds.), Violence in Colombia: The Contemporary Crisis in Historical Perpective (1992); Francisco Leal Buitrago and Len Zamosc (eds.), Al filo del caos: crisis poltica en la Colombia de los aos 80 (1990); Eduardo Pizarro Leongmez and Ricardo Pearanda, Las FARC (19491966): de la autodefensa a la combinacin de todas las formas de lucha (1991); and Harvey F. Kline, State Building and Conflict Resolution in Colombia, 19861994 (1999). Harvey F. Kline Cultural life Cultural origins Geography has played a critical role in shaping Colombian culture, particularly in regard to regional isolation. Prior to the arrival of the first Europeans in the 16th century, the aboriginal populations of the area that was to become Colombia had achieved a high level of cultural development. Because they built largely of wood and occupied a tropical area of generally moderate to high rainfall, they left little evidence of their achievements. All groups had some form of social organization, but, except for the Chibcha of the Cordillera Oriental, they were organized in small chiefdoms (cacigazcos) under chiefs (caciques) whose authority was sharply limited geographically. Agriculture, pottery making, and weaving were all but universal. Some groupsfor example, the Chibcha, Quimbaya, Tairona, Sin, and Calimahad developed great skills in metalworking (especially goldsmithing), sculpture, and ceramics. The San Agustn culture, centred in the headwaters area of the Magdalena River, left giant anthropomorphic figures carved of stone that have been an enigma for archaeologists. While groups of Caribbean origin were warlike and practiced ritual cannibalism, others from the interior possessed a rich mythology and a religion that upheld ethical standards and norms on questions of private ownership and the prevention of crime. Until the mid-1970s it was thought that no indigenous group had left any large architectural monuments such as those erected by the Aztecs, Mayas, or Incas. The excavation, beginning in 1976, of a 1,500-acre (600-hectare) city apparently built about AD 900 by the Tairona in the Santa Marta massif, however, marked a turning point in the study of Colombia's prehistory. The Andean Indians, particularly the Chibcha, practiced sedentary agriculture and were able to offer but small resistance to the Spanish invaders. They became the great biological and cultural contributors to the process of racial amalgamation, or mestizaje. The low demographic density of the pre-Hispanic population and its swift destruction during the colonial period led to the formation of a rather open society and to the substitution of Hispanic forms of culture for the indigenous ones. The most widely used native language, Chibcha, virtually disappeared in the 18th century. From colonial times, Bogotthe Athens of South Americahas been the nation's cultural centre, and most cultural institutions are located within the metropolitan area. Other cities of cultural prominence include Cali, Medelln, Manizales, Tunja, and Cartagena. The arts The arts in Colombia are fostered and developed by conservatories and schools in several cities either in connection with the universities or independently and by the growing number of concert halls and galleries. Persons of middle income levels display considerable curiosity and the desire to be informed about contemporary artistic developments, and this same spirit is found among the artists themselves. There is no distinct national school of art. The most outstanding Colombian artist is the painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, whose themes reach beyond regional tastes and temporal values to people worldwide. Numerous exhibitions in the 1990s exposed Botero's work to a broad international audience. The Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Gabriel Garca Mrquez in 1982 provided recognition of a national literary tradition that Colombians believe constitutes a basic element of the national character, as they boast that more poets than soldiers have occupied the presidency. Garca Mrquez is best known for his Cin aos de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude), a novel steeped in magic realism, chronicling a century of life in the fictional town of Macondo, which is seen as a microcosm of Colombian society. Many of his other works are also inspired by events in Colombian history and culture, yet their symbolism and significance extend to Latin America as a whole. Handicrafts suffered a decline from the colonial period to the early years of the republic, but since the early 1930s interest in them has revived. Most notable are the growth in textile production and renewed activity in the manufacture of ceramics and pottery, chiefly in the municipalities of Rquira, Espinal, and Malambo. Basket weaving, harness making, and passementerie (fancy edging or trimming on clothing or upholstery) are also popular. Popular traditions concerning manners and customs, music, legends, and food preparation continue in somewhat attenuated form in their places of origin. Perhaps the most deeply rooted folkloric form of expression is that of music. The tunes and melodies of the indigenous groups are sung only in limited geographic areas. The music of the mestizo can be divided into that of the Andes, the plains, and the Atlantic lowlands and the Pacific coast and include such genres as the bambuco, the cumbia, and the vallenato. Some musical forms of the colonial period also have survived.
Meaning of COLOMBIA in English
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