Colombia Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Colombia?

Overview:

The Republic of Colombia (about 440,000 square miles), is in northwest South America. Its location on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, proximity to the Panama Canal, and economic potential give it a position of international importance.

As well as its frontier with Panama on the northwest, Colombia shares borders with Ecuador and Peru on the south, with Brazil on the southeast, and with Venezuela on the northeast.

The Andes mountains dominate the western two-fifths of Colombia, giving it a very different character from the remaining eastern three-fifths. The Amazon Region of southeastern Colombia lies below the Equator.

Greater than 90% of the population are concentrated in the mountainous west and along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. The rest live in the Eastern Llanos, a large plains area, that constitutes 54% of the area.

Most live on plateaus and mountain slopes, where elevation reduces the equatorial heat and contributes to the people’s health and vigor. By concentrating people in isolated pockets at high elevations, the mountain ranges determine not only settlement patterns, but also lines of communication and travel, which parallel the ranges in a north-south direction. Movement from rural to urban areas has been heavy, and nearly three-quarters of the population are now urban.

Geography - note:

only South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea

Climate:

Colombia's climate varies with its different altitudes. Its three climatic zones are called: "hot country," "temperate country," and "cold country." Columbia is tropical along the coast and eastern plains; cooler in the highlands.

Colombia Use of Natural Resources

Colombia Environment

Climate:

Colombia's climate varies with its different altitudes. Its three climatic zones are called: "hot country," "temperate country," and "cold country." Columbia is tropical along the coast and eastern plains; cooler in the highlands.

Terrain:

flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains

Natural Resources:

petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower

Natural Hazards:

highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts

volcanism: Galeras (elev. 4,276 m) is one of Colombia's most active volcanoes, having erupted in 2009 and 2010 causing major evacuations; it has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Nevado del Ruiz (elev. 5,321 m), 129 km (80 mi) west of Bogota, erupted in 1985 producing lahars that killed 23,000 people; the volcano last erupted in 1991; additionally, after 500 years of dormancy, Nevado del Huila reawakened in 2007 and has experienced frequent eruptions since then; other historically active volcanoes include Cumbal, Dona Juana, Nevado del Tolima, and Purace

Irrigated Land:

4,197 Square Miles
10,870 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

deforestation; soil and water quality damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Colombia Geography

Geographic Location South America
Total Area 439,733 Square Miles
1,138,910 Square Kilometers
Land Area 401,042 Square Miles
1,038,700 Square Kilometers
Water Area 38,691 Square Miles
100,210 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 3,920 Miles
6,309 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 4,197 Square Miles
10,870 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Brazil 1,644 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 1,800 km, Venezuela 2,050 km
Coastline 1,993 Miles
3,208 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 4 00 N, 72 00 W
Terrain flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains
Highest Point 5,775 Meters
Highest Point Location Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m
Lowest Point Location Pacific Ocean 0 m
Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower
Time Zone UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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