Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia is a sovereign state 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 and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 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 the Tairona.
The Spanish set foot on Colombian soil for the first time in 1499 and in the first half of the 16th century initiated a period of conquest and colonization, ultimately creating the New Kingdom of Granada, with Santafé de Bogotá as its capital. Independence from Spain was acquired in 1819, but by 1830 the “Gran Colombia” Federation was dissolved. Colombia is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world, and thereby possesses a rich cultural heritage. The urban centers are mostly located in the highlands of the Andes mountains.