chapter  1
44 Pages

The Land and Its People

WithJorge P. Osterling

Unlike the majority of Latin American nations, Colombia is a country of semi-autonomous regions, each with its own urban, social, cultural, economic, and political structure, and each also with its own economic and political history. Social class as an indicator of status, prestige, and power has nothing to do with membership in a particular ethnic group, but is instead related to wealth and family ties; wealth and power are unevenly distributed. The most northwestern country in South America, Colombia borders on five nations: Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela; and on two oceans: the Atlantic and the Pacific. Colombia has a wide variety of topographical, ecological and climatic features. The nation’s most densely populated areas of central Colombia, which includes the various mountain ranges of Andes together with the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, experience considerable differences of temperature depending on the altitude. According to the 1985 Census figures, Colombia had a national density of 24 people per square kilometer.