Since declaring independence on 20 July 1810 and achieving it in 1819, Colombia has changed its name seven times. Regional cultural traditions are diverse, with a broad range of distinct groups that have unique customs, accents, social patterns, and cultural adaptations. These groups are classified into three cultures: those in the interior, the countryside, and the coastal regions. Only during elections, sporting events, and beauty pageants do the regional cultures unite for a common goal. Located in the northwestern part of South America, Columbia touches both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, bordering Ecuador and Peru on the south and Brazil and Venezuela on the east. Colombia's population is roughly 45 million, giving it the third highest population in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico, and the second highest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico. The capital city Bogota has around 8 million inhabitants. Patriotic symbols represent the war of independence and the founding fathers. Francisco Miranda, a Venezuelan, designed the national flag in 1806. Adapting the red and yellow of the Spanish flag, Miranda divided the two colors by a stripe of blue to symbolize the ocean separating the independent country from the motherland. The upper half of the flag is yellow, symbolizing the natural riches of the country, while the lower half is divided into two equal parts of blue and red, with the red symbolizing the blood shed in the war for independence. The official language is Spanish, which was imposed during the colonial period. All Colombians speak it except some of the indigenous populations in the Amazonian basin. In major cities, English is used, particularly by the upper class, but it is not commonly understood or spoken. Outside urban areas, Spanish is virtually the only medium of communication. Colombia takes great care to preserve the linguistic "purity" of Castilian Spanish. Colombian Spanish is marked by the...
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