Colombia

Global host of World Environment Day 2020

Key facts

People

Colombia is a multi-ethnic country, home to over 48 million people. Its territory was inhabited by vibrant indigenous communities - as was the rest of Latin America - when Spanish conquerors arrived in the 15th century. Three communities - indigenous, European and African - are the source of Colombia’s rich cultural diversity.

National flag of Colombia

Geography

With 2 million square kilometres, Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America and the only one with coastlines in both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The majestic Andean cordillera, the world’s longest mountain range, crosses the territory from north to south. Its highest peaks stand at 5,775 metres above sea level. The southern landscape is dominated by the Amazonia, a biome shared with seven other countries.

History

Indigenous cultures thrived in Colombia during the 15th century. The Spanish colonization started in the 16th century and prolonged until 1810, when civil authorities and intellectuals signed the Act of the Revolution, initiating a war of independence that concluded with the proclamation of the Republic of Colombia in 1819.

Economy

Colombia is one of the largest economies in Latin America. The country is an important oil producer, the world’s second-largest exporter of flowers and the third-largest producer of coffee. Colombia is member of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc along with Chile, Mexico, Peru and has free trade agreements with the United States and several other countries.

Environment

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, home to over 51,000 species. It houses the largest variety of birds and orchids in the world and ranks second in diversity of plants, butterflies, freshwater fish and amphibians.

This abundance of life flourishes in more than 300 types of ecosystems, some of which remain undisturbed in protected areas.

Coral images courtesy of The Ocean Agency, USFWS, Coral Reef Image Bank, XL Catlin Seaview Survey