Colombia is situated on the North tip of the South American continent, with a privileged position that gives it the distinction of being the only country in the region with coasts both on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Colombia counts with vast natural resources, which make it a land rich in coffee, exotic flowers, emeralds, and beautiful landscapes. Colombians are strong people who are able to find reasons to smile despite all the senseless violence and suffering that have accompanied them for most of their lives. In Colombia, everybody has a horror story to tell. .
In 1813, Colombia declared independence from Spain; and along with Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador became part of the Great Colombia in 1819. However, this union did not last long and disintegrated soon after the death of its first president and creator Simon Bolivar. Throughout its history Colombia has had a democratic elected government; and has suffered from two civil wars: one from 1899 - 1902, and the second from 1948 - 1953. However, many would argue that the current situation qualifies as the third civil war to hit this country; one that has lasted about 40 years and counting.
During recent years the local government has had to battle against guerrillas, paramilitaries, and drug traffickers. However, after the death of Pablo Escobar, the leader of the Medellin Cartel, in 1993, the violent acts perpetrated by this group and others involved in the illicit drug trade have become overshadowed by the bloody battles among opposing political groups. In the present the main parties involved in the conflict are:.
Leftist Guerrilla Groups: The two main guerrilla groups are the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN); however, there are more small independent groups as well. Both of the major organizations were created about the same time in the 1950s and 1960s and with similar ideologies and goals.