vertchurchColombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is in northwestern South America. The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous nations including the Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona. The Spanish arrived in 1499 and initiated a period of conquest and colonization killing or taking as slave almost the 90% of that native population, and then creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada (comprising modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama) with its capital at Bogot√°.

Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 "Gran Colombia" had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. The region that remained became a new country - the Republic of New Granada. In 1858 New Granada officially changed its name to the Grenadine Confederation, then in 1863 the United States of Colombia, before finally adopting its present name - the Republic of Colombia - in 1886.

Panama seceded in 1903.

The word "Colombia" comes from Christopher Columbus and was conceived by the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda as a reference to all the New World.

Colombia has a long tradition of constitutional government. The Liberal and Conservative parties, founded in 1848 and 1849 respectively, are two of the oldest surviving political parties in the Americas.

Colombia is a standing middle power with the the fourth largest economy in South America. It is very ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, African slaves and twentieth-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East has produced a rich cultural heritage.

This has also been influenced by Colombia's varied geography. The majority of the urban centers are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but Colombian territory also encompasses the Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.

With a population of over 50 million people, Colombia has the 29th largest population in the world and the second largest in South America, after Brazil. Colombia also has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico.

Ecologically, Colombia is one of the world's 18 mega-diverse countries (the most bio-diverse per unit area).