Equatorial Guinea (Guinea Ecuatorial; Guinée équatoriale; undefined), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (undefined, undefined, undefined), is a country located on the west coast of Central Africa, with an area of 28000 km2. Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name evokes its location near both the Equator and the Gulf of Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is the official language. , the country had an estimated population of 1,222,245.
Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, an insular and a mainland region. The insular region consists of the islands of Bioko (formerly Fernando Pó) in the Gulf of Guinea and Annobón, a small volcanic island which is the only part of the country south of the equator. Bioko Island is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea and is the site of the country's capital, Malabo. The Portuguese speaking island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. The mainland region, Río Muni, is bordered by Cameroon on the north and Gabon on the south and east. It is the location of Bata, Equatorial Guinea's largest city, and Ciudad de la Paz, the country's planned future capital. Rio Muni also includes several small offshore islands, such as Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico. The country is a member of the African Union, Francophonie, OPEC and the CPLP.
Qatar (,, or ; قطر ' ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar (دولة قطر '), is a country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Whether the sovereign state should be regarded as a constitutional or an absolute monarchy is disputed. Its sole land border is with neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) monarchy Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. An arm of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby Bahrain.
In early 2017, Qatar's total population was 2.6 million: 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates. Islam is the official religion of Qatar. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is widely regarded as the most advanced Arab state for human development. Qatar is a high-income economy, backed by the world's third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 2.6 sqmi and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians. It shares a maritime border with Morocco.
In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, which is only 8 mi wide at this naval choke point. It remains strategically important, with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait. Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services and cargo ship refuelling.
Spain (España ), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España), is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
With an area of 505990 km2, Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population, Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao.
Aruba (Papiamento: ) is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 1600 km west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 29 km north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 32 km long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 10 km across at its widest point. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean.
Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten; the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals. Aruba has no administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight regions. Its capital is Oranjestad.
Belize is a country located on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 8867 sqmi and a population of 387,879 (2017). Its mainland is about 290 km long and 110 km wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year (2015) is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
The Mayan civilization spread into the area of Belize between 1500 B.C. and 300 A.D. and flourished until about 1200. European exploration campaigns began in 1502 when Christopher Columbus sailed along the Gulf of Honduras. European settlement was begun by English settlers in 1638. This period was also marked by Spain and Britain both laying claim to the land until Britain defeated the Spanish in the Battle of St. George's Caye (1798). It became a British colony in 1840, known as British Honduras, and a Crown colony in 1862. Independence was achieved from the United Kingdom on 21 September 1981.
Costa Rica (, "rich coast" in Spanish), officially the Republic of Costa Rica ( or ', ), is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous people before it came under Spanish rule in the 16th century. Once a backwater colony, since attaining independence in the 19th century, Costa Rica has become one of the most stable, prosperous, and progressive nations in Latin America. It permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming the first of a few sovereign nations without a standing army. Costa Rica has consistently been among the top-ranking Latin American countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), placing 62nd in the world as of 2012.
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba , is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 km2 (109,884 km2 without the territorial waters). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 km2, and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.
The territory that is now Cuba was inhabited by the Ciboney Taíno people from the 4th millennium BC until Spanish colonisation in the 15th century. From the 15th century, it was a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States and gained nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. As a fragile republic, in 1940 Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but mounting political radicalization and social strife culminated in a coup and subsequent dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Open corruption and oppression under Batista's rule led to his ousting in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement, which afterwards established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Cuba is one of few Marxist–Leninist socialist states, where the role of the vanguard Communist Party is enshrined in the Constitution. Independent observers have accused the Cuban government of numerous human rights abuses, including arbitrary imprisonment.
The Dominican Republic (República Dominicana ) is a country located in the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) at 48671 km2, and third by population with approximately 10 million people, of which approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.
Christopher Columbus landed on the island on December 5, 1492, which the native Taíno people had inhabited since the 7th century. The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, the oldest continuously inhabited city, and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821. The leader of the independence movement José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia, but no longer under Spain's custody the newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Independence came 22 years later after victory in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844. Over the next 72 years the Dominican Republic experienced mostly internal conflicts and a brief return to colonial status before permanently ousting Spanish rule during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865. A United States occupation lasted eight years between 1916 and 1924, and a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez was followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo until 1961. A civil war in 1965, the country's last, was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978 & 1986–1996), the rules of Antonio Guzmán (1972–1978) & Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982–1986). Since 1996, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time since 1996. Danilo Medina, the Dominican Republic's current president, succeeded Fernandez in 2012, winning 51% of the electoral vote over his opponent ex-president Hipólito Mejía.
El Salvador, officially the Republic of El Salvador (República de El Salvador, literally "Republic of The Savior"), is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. It is bordered on the northeast by Honduras, on the northwest by Guatemala, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. El Salvador's capital and largest city is San Salvador. , the country had a population of approximately million.
El Salvador was for centuries inhabited by several Mesoamerican nations, especially the Cuzcatlecs, as well as the Lenca and Maya. In the early 16th century, the Spanish Empire conquered the territory, incorporating it into the Viceroyalty of New Spain ruled from Mexico City. However the Viceroyalty of Mexico had little or no influence in the daily affairs of the Central American isthmus, which would be colonized in 1524. In 1609 the area became the Captaincy General of Guatemala, from which El Salvador was part of until its independence from Spain, which took place in 1821, as part of the First Mexican Empire, then further seceded, as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, in 1823. When the Republic dissolved in 1841, El Salvador became a sovereign nation, then formed a short-lived union with Honduras and Nicaragua called the Greater Republic of Central America, which lasted from 1895 to 1898.
Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala (República de Guatemala), is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around million, it is the most populated country in Central America. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.
The territory of modern Guatemala once formed the core of the Maya civilization, which extended across Mesoamerica. Most of the country was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, becoming part of the viceroyalty of New Spain. Guatemala attained independence in 1821 as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, which dissolved by 1841.
Honduras, officially the Republic of Honduras (República de Honduras), is a country in Central America. In the past, it was sometimes referred to as "Spanish Honduras" to differentiate it from British Honduras, which later became modern-day Belize. The republic of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.
Honduras was home to several important Mesoamerican cultures, most notably the Maya, before the Spanish invaded in the sixteenth century. The Spanish introduced Roman Catholicism and the now predominant Spanish language, along with numerous customs that have blended with the indigenous culture. Honduras became independent in 1821 and has since been a republic, although it has consistently endured much social strife and political instability, and remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. In 1960, the northern part of what was the Mosquito Coast was transferred from Nicaragua to Honduras by the International Court of Justice.
Mexico (México ; Mēxihco), officially the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos, ), is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2000000 km2, the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
Pre-Columbian Mexico dates to about 8000 BC and is identified as one of five cradles of civilization and was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec before first contact with Europeans. In 1521, the Spanish Empire conquered and colonized the territory from its politically powerful base in Mexico-Tenochtitlan (part of Mexico City), which was administered as the viceroyalty of New Spain. Three centuries later, the territory became a nation state following its recognition in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. The post-independence period was tumultuous, characterized by economic inequality and many contrasting political changes. The Mexican–American War (1846–1848) led to a territorial cession of the extant northern territories to the United States. The Pastry War, the Franco-Mexican War, a civil war, two empires, and the Porfiriato occurred in the 19th century. The Porfiriato was ended by the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country's current political system as a federal, democratic republic.
Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua , is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.
Originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures since ancient times, the Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Mosquito Coast followed a different historical path, with the English colonizing it in the 17th century and later coming under the British rule, as well as some minor Spanish interludes in the 19th century. It became an autonomous territory of Nicaragua in 1860 and the northernmost part of it was later transferred to Honduras in 1960. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, occupation and fiscal crisis, leading to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the Contra War of the 1980s.
Panama (undefined ), officially the Republic of Panama (República de Panamá), is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's million people.
Panama was inhabited by indigenous tribes before Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century. It broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela. After Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada eventually became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the construction of the Panama Canal to be completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. The 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties led to the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama on December 31, 1999.
Puerto Rico (Spanish for "Rich Port"), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (undefined, "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico") and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1000 mi southeast of Miami, Florida.
An archipelago among the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico includes the eponymous main island and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The capital and most populous city is San Juan. The territory's total population is approximately 3.4 million. Spanish and English are the official languages, though Spanish predominates. Puerto Rico's unique heritage, culture, and natural beauty has made it a top tourism destination.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a twin island country that is the southernmost nation of the West Indies in the Caribbean. It is situated 130 km south of Grenada off the northern edge of the South American mainland, 11 km off the coast of northeastern Venezuela. It shares maritime boundaries with Barbados to the northeast, Grenada to the northwest, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west.
The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 until Spanish governor Don José María Chacón surrendered the island to a British fleet under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1797. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers more times than any other island in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago were ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens as separate states and unified in 1889. Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km 2 ), the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles (10.1 million km 2 ). With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, and the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776. The war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties. The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848.
Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic (undefined), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. With a mainland area of 2780400 km2, Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the fourth largest in the Americas, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation. The sovereign state is subdivided into twenty-three provinces (provincias, singular provincia) and one autonomous city (ciudad autónoma), Buenos Aires, which is the federal capital of the nation (Capital Federal) as decided by Congress. The provinces and the capital have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
The earliest recorded human presence in modern-day Argentina dates back to the Paleolithic period. The Inca Empire expanded to the northwest of the country in Pre-Columbian times. The country has its roots in Spanish colonization of the region during the 16th century. Argentina rose as the successor state of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a Spanish overseas viceroyalty founded in 1776. The declaration and fight for independence (1810–1818) was followed by an extended civil war that lasted until 1861, culminating in the country's reorganization as a federation of provinces with Buenos Aires as its capital city. The country thereafter enjoyed relative peace and stability, with several waves of European immigration radically reshaping its cultural and demographic outlook. The almost-unparalleled increase in prosperity led to Argentina becoming the seventh wealthiest nation in the world by the early 20th century.
Bolivia (, ; Mborivia ; Puliwya ; Wuliwya ), officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia ) is a landlocked country located in western-central South America. The capital is Sucre while the seat of government and financial center is located in La Paz. The largest city and principal industrial center is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located on the Llanos Orientales (tropical lowlands) a mostly flat region in the east of Bolivia.
The sovereign state of Bolivia is a constitutionally unitary state, divided into nine departments. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. It is bordered to the north and east by Brazil, to the southeast by Paraguay, to the south by Argentina, to the southwest by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. One-third of the country is within the Andean mountain range. With 1,098,581 km2 of area, Bolivia is the fifth largest country in South America, the 27th largest in the world and the largest landlocked country in the Southern Hemisphere.
Brazil (Brasil ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil, ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. The capital is Brasília, and the most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7491 km. It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.
Chile, officially the Republic of Chile , is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1250000 km2 of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.
The arid Atacama Desert in northern Chile contains great mineral wealth, principally copper. The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.
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. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogota.
Colombia has been inhabited by various indigenous peoples since 12,000 BCE, including the Muisca, Quimbaya, and the Tairona. The Spanish arrived in 1499 and by the mid-16th century conquered and colonized much of the region, establishing the New Kingdom of Granada, with Santafé de Bogotá as its capital. Independence from Spain was achieved in 1819, but by 1830 the "Gran Colombia" Federation was dissolved, with what is now Colombia and Panama emerging as the Republic of New Granada. The new nation experimented with federalism as the Granadine Confederation (1858), and then the United States of Colombia (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. Panama seceded in 1903, leading to Colombia's present borders. Beginning in the 1960s, the country suffered from an asymmetric low-intensity armed conflict and rampant political violence, both of which escalated in the 1990s. Since 2005, there has been significant improvement in security, stability, and rule of law.
Ecuador (Ikwayur; Shuar: Ecuador or Ekuatur), officially the Republic of Ecuador (República del Ecuador, which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator"; Ikwadur Ripuwlika), is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1000 km west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito, which is also the largest city.
What is now Ecuador was home to a variety of Amerindian groups that were gradually incorporated into the Inca Empire during the 15th century. The territory was colonized by Spain during the 16th century, achieving independence in 1820 as part of Gran Colombia, from which it emerged as its own sovereign state in 1830. The legacy of both empires is reflected in Ecuador's ethnically diverse population, with most of its million people being mestizos, followed by large minorities of European, Amerindian, and African descendants. Spanish is the official language and is spoken by a majority of the population, though 13 Amerindian languages are also recognized, including Quichua and Shuar.
Paraguay (Paraguái, ), officially the Republic of Paraguay (República del Paraguay; Tetã Paraguái), is a country of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Although it is one of the only two landlocked countries in South America (the other is Bolivia), the country has coasts, beaches and ports on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers that give exit to the Atlantic Ocean through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica ("Heart of South America").
Spanish conquistadores arrived in 1524 after navigating northwards from the Río de la Plata to the Paraná River, and finally up the Paraguay River. In 1537, they established the city of Asunción, which was the first capital of the Governorate of Paraguay and Río de la Plata. Paraguay was the epicenter of the Jesuit Missions, where the Guaraní people were educated and introduced to Christianity and European culture under the direction of the Society of Jesus in Jesuit reductions, mainly during the 17th century. However, after the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish territories in 1767, Paraguay increasingly became a peripheral colony, with few urban centers and settlers. Following independence from Spain at the beginning of the 19th century, Paraguay was ruled by a series of authoritarian governments who generally implemented nationalist, isolationist and protectionist policies. This period ended with the disastrous Paraguayan War, during which Paraguay lost at least 50% of its prewar population and around 25–33% of its territory to the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. In the 20th century, Paraguay faced another major international conflict – the Chaco War – against Bolivia, from which the Paraguayans emerged victorious. Afterwards, the country entered a period of military dictatorships, ending with the 35 year regime of Alfredo Stroessner that lasted until he was toppled in 1989 by an internal military coup. This marked the beginning of the "democratic era" of Paraguay.
Peru (undefined ; Piruw Republika ; Piruw Suyu ), officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.
Peruvian territory was home to several ancient cultures. Ranging from the Norte Chico civilization in the 32nd century BC, the oldest civilization in the Americas and one of the five cradles of civilization, to the Inca Empire, the largest state in pre-Columbian America, the territory now including Peru has one of the longest histories of civilization of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 4th millennia BCE.
Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It borders Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Río de la Plata (River of Silver) to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. Uruguay is home to an estimated million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 176000 km2, Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America, after Suriname.
Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4,000 years before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento in 1680; Uruguay was colonized by Europeans relatively late compared with neighboring countries. Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region. Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, and later Argentina and Brazil. It remained subject to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics.
Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km 2 (353,841 sq mi). The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. With this last country, the Venezuelan government maintains a claim for Guayana Esequiba over an area of 159,542 km 2 (61,600 sq mi). For its maritime areas, it exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km 2 (27,527 sq mi) of territorial waters, 22,224 km 2 (8,581 sq mi) in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km 2 (182,050 sq mi) of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km 2 (38,567 sq mi) of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.
The territory now known as Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American territories to declare independence, which was not securely established until 1821, when Venezuela was a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia. It gained full independence as a country in 1830. During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional caudillos (military strongmen) until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments. Economic shocks in the 1980s and 1990s led to several political crises, including the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for embezzlement of public funds in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of former coup-involved career officer Hugo Chávez and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution. The revolution began with a 1999 Constituent Assembly, where a new Constitution of Venezuela was written. This new constitution officially changed the name of the country to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela).