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Bogotá ( ) – officially named Bogotá, D.C. (D.C. for "Distrito Capital", which means "Capital District"), formerly called Santa Fe de Bogotá – is the capital city of Colombiamarker, as well as the most populous city in the country, with an estimated 7.304.384 inhabitants as of 2009. Bogotá and its metropolitan area, which includes municipalities such as Chíamarker, Cotamarker, Soachamarker, Cajicámarker and La Calera, had an estimated population of 8,566,926. In terms of land area, Bogotá is also the largest in Colombia, and its altitude (2,640 metres) makes it the third-highest major city in the world, after La Pazmarker and Quitomarker. With its many universities and libraries, Bogotá has become known as "The Athens of South America". Bogota's constant growth and attempt to establish itself as one of the world's most important cities has not been unnoticed. In 2008, the World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) from the United Kingdommarker included the city in a list of World Cities ranked by their economical, political and cultural developments. Bogota is ranked as a World City in the same category as other global metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, Washington, Los Angeles, Dubai and Berlin, and above others such as Boston, Miami or Montreal.


Bogotá was originally called "Bacatá" (which means “planted fields”) by the Muiscas. It was the center of their civilization before the Spanish explorers colonized the area, and it sustained a large population. The European settlement was founded on August 6, 1538 by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and was named "Santa Fé de Bacatá" after his birthplace Santa Fé and the local name. "Bacatá" had become the modern "Bogotá" by the time it was made the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada, which was then part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, and later of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The city soon became one of the centers of Spanish colonial power and civilization in South America.

In 1810–11 its citizens revolted against Spanish rule and set up a government of their own, but had to contend with internal divisions and the temporary return to power of Spanish military loyalists who regained control of the city in 1816. In 1819 Simón Bolívar liberated it after his victory at Boyacá. Bogotá was then made the capital of Gran Colombia, a federation combining the territories of modern Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. When Gran Colombia was broken up, Bogotá remained the capital of New Granada, which later became the Republic of Colombia. See History of Colombia.

In 1956 the municipality was joined to other neighboring municipalities forming a "Special District" ( ).The Constitution of 1991 confirmed Bogotá as the Capital of Colombia, gave it the name "Santafé de Bogotá", and changed the category from Special District to "Capital District" ( ).

In August 2000 the name was officially changed back to simply "Bogotá".

In 2009, Bogotá made a attempt to host the 2015 Pan American Games. It only received 7 votes, losing to Lima, Perumarker and Toronto, Canadamarker which received 11 and 33 votes respectively.



Bogotá is located on the east of the Savannah of Bogotá (Sabana de Bogotá), 2640 meters (8661 ft) above sea level. Although it is located in what is popularly called the "sabana", literally meaning "savannah", the geographical site is actually a high plateau in the Andes mountains. The extended region is also known as "Altiplano Cundiboyacense" which literally means "high plateau of Cundinamarca and Boyacá".

The Bogotá River crosses the 'sabana' forming Tequendama Falls (Salto de Tequendama) to the south. Tributary rivers form valleys with flourishing villages, whose economy is based on agriculture, livestock raising and artisanal production.

The 'sabana' is bordered to the east by the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes mountain range. Surrounding hills, which limit city growth, run from south to north, parallel to the Guadalupe and Monserrate mountains. The western city limit is the Bogotá River. The Sumapaz Paramomarker (moorland) borders the south and to the north Bogotá extends over the mentioned plateau up to the towns of Chíamarker and Sopómarker.


Bogota has a Subtropical Highland climate. The average temperature on the 'sabana' is 14.0°C, varying from 3°C to 25°C. Dry and rainy seasons alternate throughout the year. The driest months are December, January, February and March; the rainiest are April, May, September, October and November. June and July are usually rainy periods and August is sunny with high winds. Hailstorms are common during the rainy season, and can be very strong, especially in October.

Climatic conditions are irregular and quite variable due to the El Niño and La Niña climatic phenomena, which occur in and around the Pacific basin and are responsible for very pronounced climatic changes. Even with this fact, overall, all year days are mild or cool and nights can get moderately cold due to the city having mild winds in the night year round.

Urban layout and nomenclature

Bogotá has 20 localities, or districts, forming an extensive network of neighborhoods. Areas of higher economic status tend to be located to the north and north-east, close to the foothills of the Eastern Cordillera. Poorer neighborhoods are located to the south and south-east, many of them squatter areas. The middle classes usually inhabit the central, western and north-western sections of the city.

The urban layout in the center of the city is based on the focal point of a square or plaza, typical of Spanish-founded settlements, but the layout gradually becomes more modern in outlying neighborhoods. The current types of roads are classified as calles (streets), which run perpendicular to the Cordillera, with street numbers increasing towards the north, and also towards the south (with the suffix "Sur") from Calle 1. Carreras run parallel to the hills, with numbering increasing as one travels east or west of Carrera 1 (with the suffix "Este" for roads east of Carrera 1). Other types of roads more common in newer parts of the city may be termed "Eje" (Axis), "Diagonal" or "Transversal".

The numbering system for street addresses recently changed, and numbers are assigned according to street rank from main avenues to smaller avenues and local streets. Some of Bogota's main roads, which also go by a proper name in addition to a number, are:

  • Norte-Quito-Sur or N.Q.S. (North Quito South Avenue, from 9th road at north following railway to 30th road Avenue, or Quito City Avenue, and Southern Highway)
  • Autopista Norte-Avenida Caracas (Northern Highway, or 45th road, joined to Caracas Avenue, or 14th road)
  • Avenida Circunvalar (from downtown following hillside on eastern hills going to La Caleramarker)
  • Avenida Suba (60th transversal from 100th street to the Suba Hills; 145th street from Suba Hills westward)
  • Avenida El Dorado (El Dorado Avenue, or 26th street)
  • Avenida de las Américas (Americas Avenue, from 34th street at east to 6th street at west)
  • Avenida Primera de Mayo (May First Avenue, or 22nd south street)
  • Avenida Ciudad de Cali (Cali City Avenue, or 86th road)
  • Avenida Boyacá (Boyacá Avenue, or 72nd road)
  • Autopista Sur (Southern Highway)

Localities (Districts)

Surrounding cities


Year Population
1775 16,233
1800 21,964
1832 28,341
1870 40,883
1912 121,257
1918 143,994
1928 235,702
1938 325,650
1951 715,250
1964 1,697,311
1973 2,855,065
1985 4,236,490
1993 5,484,244
1999 6,276,428
2005 7,185,889
Source: Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango

The largest and most populous city in Colombia, Bogotá has 8,566,926 inhabitants in its metropolitan area (2009 census), with a population density of approx. 3912 inhabitants per square kilometer. Nowadays in 2009, it is estimated that the city house about 7,362,520 and 8,566,926 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Only 15,810 people are located in rural areas of Capital District. 47.5% of the population are male and 52.5% women. The city has the lowest rate of illiteracy in the country whichreaches only 4.6% of the population older than 5 years old.

Public services have a high coverage, since 99.5% of households have electricity service, while 98.7% have service of an aqueduct and 87.9% have telephone communication. However, as the mission to design a strategy for poverty reductionand inequality, 32.6% of citizens were in poverty (living on less than 2 USD a day) in 2005.

In Bogotá, as in the rest of the country, the accelerating of the urbanization process is not only due to industrialization, since there arecomplex political and social reasons such as poverty and violence which have led to migration from rural to urban areas throughout the twentieth century. This has led to an exponential growth of population in urban areas and belts of misery in their surroundings. Adramatic example of this is the number of displaced people who have arrived in Bogotá. According to the Consultancy for Human Rights, Codhes, in the period 1999-2005 more than 260,000 people arrived in Bogotá as a result of displacement, about 3.8% of the total population of Bogotá.

The majority of the displaced population lives in the Ciudad Bolivar, Kennedy, Usme, and Bosa sections.

The composition of the city's population is of mestizo origin (those of mixed Amerindian and white European descent), in addition to white European descent, mostly of Spaniard, Italian, French, German, and other European ancestry. It has a very large Middle Eastern population, made up mostly of Lebanese and Syrianmarker immigrants. The population of Colombians of African descent in Bogotá is smaller than cities along the coast such as Cartagenamarker, where Colombians, of African descent, have historically resided.


Bogotá has gone to great lengths to change its crime rate and its image with increasing success after being considered in the mid-90s to be one of the most violent cities in the world. In 1993 there were 4,352 intentional homicides at a rate of 81 per 100,000 people. ; in 2007, Bogotá suffered 1,401 murders at a rate of 19 per 100,000 inhabitants. This success was the result of a participatory and integrated security policy, "Communidad Segura", that was first adopted in 1995 and continues to be enforced. Although these figures remain far higher than equivalent US urban areas such as Philadelphia, Washington and Atlanta, today Bogotá has a lower murder rate than Caracasmarker, and Rio de Janeiromarker.


Samuel Moreno

Bogotá is the capital of the Republic of Colombiamarker, and houses the national legislature, the Supreme Court of Justice, and the center of the executive administration as well as the residence of the President of the Republic. The Principal Mayor and District Council – both elected by popular vote – are responsible for city administration. In 2007 Samuel Moreno Rojas was elected Mayor for the period 2008-2011.

The city divided into 20 localities: Usaquén, Chapinero, Santa Fe, San Cristóbal, Usmemarker, Tunjuelito, Bosamarker, Kennedy, Fontibón, Engativá, Suba, Barrios Unidos, Teusaquillo, Los Mártires, Antonio Nariño, Puente Aranda, La Candelariamarker, Rafael Uribe Uribe, Ciudad Bolívarmarker, Sumapaz.

Each of the 20 localities is governed by an administrative board elected by popular vote, made up of no fewer than seven members. The Principal Mayor designates local mayors from candidates nominated by the respective administrative board.


Bogotá is Colombia's largest economic center (followed by Medellínmarker, Calimarker and Barranquillamarker), and one of the most important in Latin America. Its GDP of US$86 billion, almost a quarter of Colombia's total, approximately 10,000 USD per capita, is the fifth highest among cities in South America. Most companies in Colombiamarker have their headquarters in Bogotá (for example, Bavaria, Avianca), it is the site of Colombia's main stock exchange. Bogotá is also a major center for the import and export of goods for Colombia and the Andean Community in Latin America.

Bogotá is the centre of Colombian business, and the city's industrial base include staples of the Colombian economy such as GM Colmotores, Compañía Colombiana Automotriz, and Ecopetrol. Other important industries include financial services, especially banking. Bogotá is the headquarters of major commercial banks, and of the Banco de la República, Colombia's central bank. Bogotá is a centre of printing and publishing, as well as of the national telecommunications network and has the biggest industrial facilities in the country. Bogotá also houses the central governmental institutions and military headquarters, which represent another major component of the city's economy.

The city is also a major convention destination with major convention centres including Centro Ferial de Convenciones Corferias, Centro de Convenciones y Eventos Cafam, Centro de Convenciones Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, among others.


Energy and sewer bills are stratified based on the location of owner's residence, with the intended purpose that wealthier sections of society subsidize the energy bills of the poorer sections of society. Telephone service is provided by both "Empresa de Telefonos de Bogota (ETB) and three main operators of wireless phones: Movistar (owned by Spanish firm Telefónica), Comcel (owned by Telmex) and Tigo (co-owned by ETB, EPM and Millicom).


TransMilenio station
Bikeways in Bogotá

Bogotá's growth has placed a strain on its roads and highways, but within the past decade significant efforts to upgrade the infrastructure have been undertaken. Private car ownership, despite being under 27%, forms a major part of the congestion, in addition to taxis, buses and commercial vehicles. Buses remain the main means of mass transit. There are two bus systems: the traditional system and Trasmilenio. The traditional system runs a variety of bus types, operated by several companies on normal streets and avenues: Bus (large buses), Buseta (medium size buses) and Colectivo (vans or minivans). The bigger buses were divided into two categories: "Ejecutivo", which is supposed to be a deluxe service and is not supposed to carry standing passengers, and "corriente" or normal service. Since May 2008, all buses run as "corriente" services. Bogotá is a hub for domestic and international bus routes. The Bogotá terminal serves routes to most cities and towns in Colombia and is the largest in the country. There is international service to Ecuador, Perú and Venezuela.

The TransMileniomarker rapid transit system, created during Enrique Peñalosa's mayoral term, is a form of bus rapid transit that has been quickly and affordably deployed as an appropriate stopgap measure to compensate for the lack of a subway or rail system. TransMilenio combining articulated buses that operate on dedicated bus roads (busways) and smaller buses (feeders) that operate in residential areas, bringing passengers to the main grid. TransMilenio's main routes are: Caracas Avenue, Northern Highway (Autopista Norte), 80th Street, Americas Avenue, Jiménez Avenue, and 30th Avenue (also referred to as Norte Quito Sur or N.Q.S. for short). Routes for Suba Avenue and Southern Highway (Autopista Sur), the southern leg of the 30th Avenue, were opened in April 2006. The third phase of the system will cover 7th Avenue, 10th Avenue, and 26th Street (or Avenida El Dorado). The system is planned to cover the entire city by 2030. Although the Transmilenio carries commuters to numerous corners of the city, it is more expensive than any public transport except taxis, and fares increase with petroleum fuel prices. As of July 2009 the price of a ticket was C$1500 (about US$0.75); however, a single ticket allows unlimited transfers until the passenger leaves the system, and passengers travel on feeder routes for free. Transmilenio does not yet cover some main routes, and buses are overcrowded.

Despite the city's chronic congestion, many of the ideas enacted during the Peñalosa years are regarded worldwide to be cost-effective, efficient and unique solutions. In addition to TransMilenio, the Peñalosa administration and voter-approved referenda helped to establish travel restrictions on cars with certain licence-plate numbers during peak hours called Pico y placa, "Car Free Days" on Sundays, a massive system of bicycle paths and segregated lanes called 'ciclorrutas', and the removal of thousands of parking spots in an attempt to make roads more pedestrian-friendly. Ciclorrutas is one of the most extensive dedicated bike path networks of any city in the world, with a total extension of 303 km. It extends from the north of the city, 170th Street, to the south, 27th Street, and from Monserrate on the east to the Bogotá River on the west. The ciclorruta was started by the 1995–1998 Antanas Mockus administration, and considerably extended during the administration of Mayor Peñalosa. Since the construction of the ciclorrutas bicycle use in the city has increased.


Bogotá's principal airport is El Dorado International Airportmarker, west of the city's downtown, at the end of Av. El Dorado. Due to its central location in Colombia and in Latin America, it is a natural hub for domestic and international airlines.

El Dorado is heavily congested, as it handles more passengers than its optimal capacity. Work on a major expansion of El Dorado airport started in September 2007. When completed, this will expand capacity from the current 8 million passengers a year to 16 million.

A secondary airport, Catam, serves as a base for Military and Police Aviation, also Guaymaral Airportmarker, for private aviation activities.

Urban and suburban railways

Colleges and universities

Saint Thomas Aquinas University.
It is the oldest Colombian university.

Known as the Athens of South America, Bogotá has more schools, colleges, and universities than any other city in Colombia and a scholarly tradition that dates back to July 13, 1580, when the first university, Saint Thomas Aquinas University, was founded by the Dominicans. On July 9, 1623 the Pontifical Xavierian Universitymarker was founded by the Jesuits and on December 31, 1651 the Our Lady of the Rosary Universitymarker by Cristóbal de Torres.

The largest university in Colombia, the Universidad Nacional de Colombiamarker, was founded on September 22, 1867. A study by Universia found it to be the Colombian university producing the largest number of scientific papers published in peer-refereed publications in 2005, and the 45th most prolific in Latin America.

Other notable universities include the Universidad Externado de Colombiamarker, founded in 1886, and the University of the Andesmarker, founded in 1948. According to a study by the QS network, this is the only Colombian university ranked amongst the top 500 of the world.


Bogota is host to endless cultural venues and acts across 58 museums, 62 art galleries, 33 library networks, 45 stage theatres, 75 sports and attraction parks, and over 150 national monuments. Many of these are renowned globally such as:

  • The Luis Angel Arango Library, the most important in the region which receives well over 6 million visitors a year;
  • The Colombian National Museum, one of the oldest in the Americas dating back to 1823;
  • The Ibero-American Theater Festival, largest of its kind in the world, receives 2 million attendees enjoying over 450 performances across theaters and off the street;
  • The Bogota Philharmonic is the most important symphony orchestra in Colombia, counting over 100 musicians and 140 performances a year;
  • The Cristobal Colon Theater, the Country's oldest Opera House, which opened in 1892 is home to the National Symphony Association's major act, the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia ;
  • Rock al Parque or Rock at the Park, the most important open air rock music festival in Latin America. Recurring annually, its rallying power gathers over 320,000 music fans who can enjoy over 60 band performances for free during three days a year. The series have been so successful during its 15 years of operation that the city has replicated the initiative for other music genres, resulting in other recent festivals like Salsa at the Park, Hip Hop at the Park, Ballet at the Park, Opera at the Park, and Jazz at the Park.

Bogota has worked heavily in recent years to position itself as leader in cultural offerings in South America, and it is increasingly being worldwide recognized as a hub in the region for the development of the arts.

Product of such work and recognition is the recent series of awards that Bogota counts on its favor: in 2007 it was named World Book Capital by UNESCOmarker, topping other nominees for said year such as Dublin, Amsterdam and Vienna. Bogota is effectively the first Latin American city to receive this recognition, and the second one in the whole Americas after Montrealmarker. The same year, Bogota was awarded the title of Cultural Capital of Ibero-America by the UCCI (Union of Capital Cities in Ibero-America), and it became the only city to have received the recognition twice, after being awarded for the first time in 1991.

Parks and recreation

Faenza Theater

There are many parks, many with facilities for concerts, plays, movies, storytellers and other activities.
  • "Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park" is a large park regularly used to stage free concerts (such as the annual Rock al Parque, a festival in which new and popular Latin rock bands play free of charge). Kites are flown in the park.
  • The public Parque Nacional (National Park)has many trees and green spaces, ponds, games for children, many foot and bicycle paths, and venues for entertainment such as public screenings of movies and concerts and events organized by the Council of Bogotá. It is located between two main streets, the Circunvalar Avenue and the 7th Avenue.
  • The Bogotá Botanical Gardenmarker (Jardín Botánico de Bogotá).
  • The Children's Museum of Bogotá (Museo de los Niños), is a science, technology and art interactive museum specialized in attending children and youngsters ages 2 to 19.
  • "Parque de la 93" is located between 93rd and 93Ath street, and 12th and 13th avenue, and has day-time leisure activities and nightlife. Several of the top restaurants and bars in the city are in this park.
  • There are restaurants and bars in the vicinity of a T-shaped pedestrian strip dubbed "La T" (The T) at the corner of 82nd street and Cra.12. More recently, restaurant activity has begun in the "Zona G" (Gourmet Zone) in and around 67th and 70th Streets and other locations including Usaquen in the north-east and La Macarena (downtown).
  • Mundo Aventura is an amusement park, with an entry charge and charges for the different attractions. It has rides for adults and children, a petting zoo, and the "cerdodromo", where pigs race.
  • "Salitre Mágico" is another amusement park with rides and attractions. The park is near the well-known Simón Bolívar park, where concerts are held throughout the year.
  • Parque del Chicó has trees, gardens, artificial creeks and ponds, and a colonial style house converted into a museum.
  • To the north Parque Jaime Duque has rides, a giant map of Colombia, popular exhibits, a zoo, and a big hand holding the world symbolizing God. There is a reproduction of the Taj Mahalmarker in the park with a collection of reproductions of famous paintings. The park is also used for large concerts, mainly electronic music ones.
  • Maloka is an interactive museum of sciences.
  • Tourist train, on weekends a sightseeing train, popular with Bogotá residents, runs to outlying towns Zipaquirámarker, Cajicámarker and Nemocónmarker along the lines of the former Bogotá Savannah Railway. The route to Zipaquirá (famous for its salt cathedral) is 53 km long. Another line goes towards the north for 47 km and ends at Briceñomarker.

Bogotá is known for its vibrant night life. It has a wide variety of restaurants, bars, clubs and cultural activities to please anyone's preference. There are numerous zones including the T, Parque de la 93, Candelaria, Usaquen, Avenida Primero de Mayo and Zona G among others. Places range from fine cuisine from all over the world to night clubs that offer different types of music. There is a curfew for most night places at 3:00am although some clubs still operate after hours.


The flag originates from the insurgency movement against the colonial authorities which began on July 20, 1810, during which the rebels wore armbands with yellow and red bands, as these colours were those of the Spanish flag used as the flag for the New Kingdom of Granada.

In October 9, 1952, exactly 142 years after these events, decree 555 of 1952 officially adopted the patriotic armband as the flag of Bogotá. The flag of Cundinamarca follows the same pattern, plus a light blue tile which represents the Virgin Mary's cape.

The flag itself is a yellow band above a red one. The yellow denotes the gold from the earth, as well as the virtues of justice, clemency, benevolence, the so-called "mundane qualities" (defined as nobility, excellence, richness, generosity, splendour, health, steadfastness, joy and prosperity), long life, eternity, power and constancy. The red denotes the virtue of charity, as well as the qualities of bravery, nobility, values, audacity, victory, honour and furor, Colombians call it the blood of their people.

The coat of arms of the city was granted by emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain) to the New Kingdom of Granada, by royal decree given in Valladolidmarker, Spainmarker on December 3, 1548. It contains a black eagle in the center, which symbolises steadfastness. The eagle is also a symbol of the Habsburgs, which was the ruling family of the Spanish empire at the time. The eagle is crowned with gold and holds a red pomegranate inside a golden background. The border contains olive branches with nine golden pomegranates in a blue background. The two red pomegranates symbolize audacity, and the nine golden ones represent the nine states which constituted the New Kingdom of Granada at the time. In 1932 the coat of arms was officially recognized and adopted as the symbol of Bogotá.

Bogotá's anthem lyrics were written by Pedro Medina Avendaño, the melody was composed by Roberto Pineda Duque. The song was officially declared the anthem by decree 1000 of July 31, 1974, by then Mayor of Bogotá, Aníbal Fernandez de Soto.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Bogotá is twinned with:

See also


  1. "Secretaria Distrital de Planeacion", [1]
  2. German explorer Alexander von Humboldt was the first European to call Bogotá "The Athens of South America" during his visit to the city in 1802
  3. The World According to GaWC 2008
  4. Colombia Official Tourism Portal "Bogotá: a city for experiencing culture"
  5. Banco de la Republica "2008 Press Release" Retrieved Sept. 3 2009
  6. Museo Nacional de Colombia "History" Retrieved Sept. 3 2009
  7. Colombia Official Tourism Portal Theater Festival of Bogotá: The Largest Theater Showcase in the World"
  8. Filarmonica de Bogota "Philarmonic Timeline"
  9. Ministerio de Cultura "Cristobal Colon Theater"
  10. Rock at the Park "15th Edition of the Concert is over"
  11. Scoop Independent News, New Zealand "Cultural Diversity Highlighted" 24 April 2007
  13. Inter Press Service "COLOMBIA: Open Your Books, Please, Bogota"
  14. Noticias de Bogotá: Arte "ArtBo 2009 - Reportaje"
  15. UNESCO "World Book Capital City" 2007
  16. Universia "Bogota Ibero-American Capital of Culture for Second Time"

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