Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Colombia, like many nations, has lived through changes in its borders over time. Until 1803, present-day Ecuador and Venezuela were included in the what was then Greater Colombia ( Gran Colombia ); in 1810 independence was attained from Spain, which had been in power since 1544. In 1903, Panama was separated from the country, leaving the existing nation with land borders adjoining five countries (Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Panama). The land mass of Colombia is approximately 440,000 square miles, roughly equivalent to three times the size of the state of Montana in the United States. It abuts the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and includes three islands. Its geographic position, varied topography, climate, and transportation infrastructure, including approximately 100 paved airport runways and almost 1,000 unpaved airstrips, make it a strategic location for the illegal drug trade in South America. The 2003 population of Colombia was approximately 41.6 ...