Colombia is located in the northwestern corner of South America. It is the fourth biggest country of South America, covering 2.129.748 square kilometers, of which 1.141.748 km2 correspond to the mainland and the remaining 988.000 square kilometers to its seas. Colombia is the only nation in South America with coasts on both Pacific and Atlantic ocean which has several islands as the archipelago of San Andres, Gorgona Island or Malpelo Island.
Colombia has 48 million people and has a multicultural population in regions and ethnicities. Its population is mostly a result of an inbreeding between European, indigenous and African.
Colombia is a presidential democracy. The Colombian Constitution order the public power into three independent branches, the executive, legislative and judicial. Colombia is composed of 32 departments and a capital district. At the same time, the departments are formed by the association of municipalities. Currently there are 1.120 municipalities. The ancestral indigenous communities live in their own territories that are created by mutual agreement between Government and indigenous communities. In cases where indigenous territories cover more than one department or municipality, local governments manage them together with indigenous councils.
The Colombian territory has a varied topography; a central mountain system, inland and coastal plains and valleys. In Colombia there are several hydrographic drainages: The Pacific Rim, the Caribbean slope, the slope of the Catatumbo, the slope of the Amazon and the Orinoco watershed.
Colombia has 4 kinds of climates based on its mountain system that varies with the altitude of its terrain, in higher altitude the temperatures are low and vice versa:The warm climate that ranges from sea level to 1000 meters above sea level, has an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius.
The temperate climate that ranges from 1000 to 2000 meters above the sea level has temperatures ranging from 16 to 26 Celsius degrees
The cold climate that ranges from 2000 to 3500 meters above the sea level has temperatures ranging from 8 to 16 Celsius degrees.
The paramo climate that ranges from 3500 to 4700 meters above the sea level has temperatures ranging from 0 to 10 Celsius degrees.
Colombia has the highest number of species per unit area on the planet and is the second with the highest diversity of species in the world after Brazil. Colombia owns half of the existing paramos on the planet making it one of the countries with highest waterier areas in the world owning 44.25% of the paramos of South America.
Colombia is a country of intermediate size, nevertheless owns approximately 10% to 20% of the plant species worldwide, with about 40.000 or 45.000 species of plants. A very high figure for a country of this proportion; Brazil, a country 6,5 times larger than Colombia has 55.000 and Africa, specifically sub-Saharan, there are about 30.000 species. Colombia is first in variety of orchids, and has more than 50.000 species of flowers.
Colombia ranks third in living species of animals and first in bird species with 1.876 species, this is 19% of the species in the world and 60% of the species in South America. Colombia’s national bird is the Andean Condor and it is represented in the flag shield of Colombia. In Colombia there are 14 species and 300 families of butterflies, making it the second country with more variety of butterflies. Globally Colombia is first in amphibian species to possess 15%, 25% of crocodiles species, 30% of turtles and 222 species of snakes. The country ranks in fourth place worldwide in discovered mammals with 456 species and is has fifth place on primates with 30 species. In Colombia lives approximately 1600 species of freshwater fish and 1200 species in marine waters.
There are 6 natural regions in Colombia, categorized by its terrain, ecosystem and climate:
The Amazon Region: Is the largest region and the less populated. It presents high humidity, high precipitation and high heat during the year. It belongs to the Amazon river shed and the Colombian Amazon Jungle.
The Andean Region: Correspondent to the Andes Mountain range in Colombia, including the valleys of the Cauca and Magdalena Rivers. Is the highest populate region of the country.
The Caribbean Region: includes the plains and mountain systems outside the Andes, like the Maria Mountains and the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. The climate in this area is warm and semiarid in much of the peninsula of La Guajira.
The Island Region: Includes the San Andres And Old Providencie Archipielago in the Caribbean ocean and the Malpelo and Gorgona Islands in the Pacific Ocean. This region has very large coral ecosystems and high diversity of aquatic species.
The Orinoco Region: Is located in north eastern Colombia. It is a flat, low-lying area that is part of the Orinoco River basin. It is sparsely inhabited.
The Pacific Region: includes the Colombian Pacific coastal plains and mountainous groups in the region that do not belong to the Andes, particularly the Serrania of Baudo. In coastal areas there are abundant mangrove swamps and dense forests. It is humid region so is the highest precipitation region in the world.
In Colombia there are 59 natural areas belonging to the National Natural Park System representing 14’268.224 hectares (142.682 sqare kilometers) of the national area (marine and terrestrial), where 11.27% is on the continental area and 1.5% are offshore. 26 of these areas have the presence of indigenous and Afro descendants. The areas protected by the National Park System are made up of 11 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 41 nature parks and several nature reserves. These areas are key for protection of ecosystems, biodiversity, and water production.
It is necessary to be vaccinated against yellow fever at least 15 days before traveling to the departments of Santander, Norte de Santander, Bolivar, Boyaca, Huila, Arauca, Caquetá, Casanare, Cesar, Guainía, Guaviare, La Guajira, Meta, Putumayo, Vichada , Amazonas and Vaupés. among others. The vaccine is not suitable for people with HIV positive, pregnant women and children under 6 months. To go to jungle areas or natural parks other vaccines are recommended, such as tetanus and hepatitis A and B. It is further recommended that foreigners who come from countries with vaccine against dengue put it before traveling if they are going to visit sites below 1.800 meters over sea level.
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