Editor's note: The Colombian peace deal announced in Havana this evening, the New York Times says, ends a war that lasted 52 years, claimed 220,000 lives and displaced more than 5 million people.. - Tom
Colombia (/kəˈlʌmbiə/kə-LUM-biə or /kəˈlɒmbiə/kə-LOM-biə; Spanish: [koˈlombja]), officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia), is a transcontinental country largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil, to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. It is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples including the Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona.
The Spanish arrived in 1499 and initiated a period of conquest and colonization ultimately creating the Viceroyalty of New Granada, with its capital at Bogotá. Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 the "Gran Colombia" Federation was dissolved. What is now Colombia and Panama emerged as the Republic of New Granada. The new nation experimented with federalism as the Granadine Confederation (1858), and then the United States of Colombia (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. Panama seceded in 1903. Since the 1960s, the country has suffered from an asymmetric low-intensity armed conflict, which escalated in the 1990s, but then decreased from 2005 onward. Colombia is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world giving rise to a rich cultural heritage. This has also been influenced by Colombia's varied geography, and the imposing landscape of the country has resulted in the development of very strong regional identities. The urban centres are mostly located in the highlands of the Andes mountains.
Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Ecologically, it is one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries, and the most densely biodiverse of these per square kilometer. Colombia is a middle power and a regional actor with the fourth largest economy in Latin America, is part of the CIVETS group of six leading emerging markets and is an accessing member to the OECD. Colombia has a diversified economy with macroeconomic stability and favorable growth prospects in the long run.