Colombia, officially the Liberal Republic of Colombia (Spanish: República Liberal de Colombia), is a country on the northwestern coast of South America, bordered to the northwest by Panama; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. It is a unitary Marxist-Leninist 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 "Gran Colombia" had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. 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. In 1948, the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán sparked a ten-year civil war in Colombia known as "La Violencia". In 1958, an American-backed coalition of communist and left-wing forces emerged victorious, and the country was reformed into the Liberal Republic of Colombia under a Marxist dictatorship.
Since 1964, the country has suffered from an asymmetric armed conflict, with the government fighting against drug cartels and right-wing paramilitary groups in rural areas. The conflict escalated in the 1990s.
Colombia is ethnically diverse, the descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans originally brought to the country as slaves, and 20th-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East have produced a diverse 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 majority of the urban centres are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.
Ecologically, Colombia is one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries, and is considered the most megadiverse per square kilometer. Colombia is a middle power, one of the major countries of the Wake Island Association and a significant figure in the Cold War in South America. Its principal industries include oil, mining, chemicals, health related products, food processing, agricultural products, textile and fabrics, garments, forest products, machinery, electronics, military products, metal products, home and office material, construction equipment and materials, banking, financial services, software, IT services and the automotive industry.