|Colombia occupies the northwestern part of South
America. The Caribbean Sea is to the north, Venezuela to the east, Brazil
to the southeast, Peru and Ecuador to the southwest, the Pacific Ocean
to the west and the Isthmus of Panama to the northwest. Colombia's territory
also includes several islands. The most important are San Andrés
and Providencia in the Caribbean Sea, Islas de San Bernardo and Islas del
Rosario off the north coast, and Gorgona and Malpelo in the Pacific Ocean.
Colombia is divided into four broad geographical areas: the mountains, the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Los Llanos (the plains), and the Amazon rainforest.
|Mountains and high plateaus cover about half of
Colombia's land area. Three ranges of the Andes Mountains extend north
and south in the western part of Colombia. They are called, from west to
east, the Cordillera Occidental, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera
Oriental. The central and eastern ranges are snow-covered and have volcanoes.
Colombia also has four smaller mountain ranges: the Sierra Nevada de Santa
Marta, the Serranía de la Macarena, the Baudó and the Darien
ranges. About 75% of Colombians live in the mountain regions. Lowland areas,
including Los Llanos and the Amazon jungle, cover the rest of Colombia's
land area. These areas are sparsely inhabited.
Many rivers flow through Colombia. The largest is the Magdalena, which flows north through the Andes Mountains to the Caribbean. Other large rivers are the Meta and the Guaviare and two tributaries of the Amazon River, the Caquet and the Putumayo.
|Colombia is close to the equator, so the average
temperature does not change much throughout the year. Although there is
a dry season (verano) and a rainy season (invierno), there
is no true pattern of seasons in Colombia, because rainfall and temperature
change according to altitude. For example, the lowlands have a hot climate,
while some mountains have permanent snow. Average temperatures range from
over 30°C on the Caribbean coast to 12°C on high mountain plateaus.
More than 130,000 species of plants and 1,550 species of birds can be found in Colombia, many of them extremely rare. The plant life include thousands of types of orchids and a rare plant called the Espeletia, which has large hairy leaves and can reach 10 metres in height. The birds include parrots, toucans, macaws and hummingbirds. There are also jaguars, ocelots, armadillos and many species of monkeys.