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Bogotá (bōgōtäˈ), city (2021 metro area est. pop. 11,167,000), central Colombia, capital and largest city of Colombia, and capital of Cundinamarca dept. A picturesque, spacious city, Bogotá is on a high, fertile plateau (c.8,560 ft/2,610 m) in the E Andes and has a cool, moist climate. Several rivers join at the site to form the Bogotá, a tributary of the Río Magdalena, the chief means of transportation in colonial times.

Today Bogotá is the political, social, and financial center of the republic, although Medellín and Barranquilla enjoy economic supremacy. It is the marketing and processing center for a region of coffee, cacao, tobacco, and cut flowers. Chemicals, tires, and pharmaceuticals are manufactured in Bogotá. The city is rich in splendid colonial architecture, notably the cathedral and the churches of San Ignacio and San Francisco. It has several universities and a museum with an internationally famous collection of pre-Columbian gold art. A short distance from the city is the Salto de Tequendama waterfall and the underground cathedral at the salt mines of Zipaquirá.

The region was a Chibcha center before the city was founded in 1538 by Jiménez de Quesada and named Santa Fé de Bogotá (in memory of the Chibcha chief Bacatá). As capital and archiepiscopal see of the colonial viceroyalty of New Granada, the city became an early religious and intellectual center. Alexander von Humboldt called it (c.1800) the Athens of America in honor of its cultural and scientific institutions. Among them were the first astronomical observatory in South America, founded by José Celestino Mutis.

The intellectual impact of the French Revolution inspired Antonio Nariño and others to agitate against Spanish rule. José Acevedo y Gómez led the first successful revolt in the city against Spain in 1810. Later Santander and Bolívar were prominent in Bogotá. After Bolívar's decisive victory at Boyacá (1819), Bogotá became the capital of Greater Colombia; when the country was divided in 1830, Bogotá became the capital of what was later called Colombia. Much of the city was damaged during rioting in 1948 following the assassination of the radical leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. In 1955, Bogotá and the surrounding area were organized as a Special District of 613 sq mi (1,588 sq km).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Santa Fé de Bogotá), a city; the capital of Colombia. Area, 600 sq km. Population 2,356,000 (1969, including the suburbs).

Bogotá is located in a broad valley on the western slope of the eastern Cordillera at an altitude of more than 2,600 m. The temperature in the hottest month is 15° C and in the coldest month is -14° C. The city has a rail terminal and an airport. The Pan American Highway connects Bogotá with Caracas (Venezuela) and Quito (Ecuador). Bogotá is an important economic center and the major political and cultural center of the country. It is the trade distribution center for eastern Colombia, and its enterprises include food, textiles, footwear, garments, electrical engineering, printing, and the chemical industry. Rubber tires and soda are produced and emeralds are mined near Bogotá. The city is subject to earthquakes. Bogotá constitutes a special district which is not included in the usual municipal system. The administrative head in Bogotá is the mayor, who is considered by law to be the representative of the president; acts issued by the mayor may be abrogated by the government. There is also an elected municipal council.

Bogotá was founded in 1538 by the Spanish conquistadores in a region which was the center of the ancient civilization of the Chibcha Indians. In 1598 it became the capital of a Spanish general captaincy, and in 1739 it became the capital of New Granada, which was ruled by a viceroy. In 1819, Bogotá was liberated from the Spaniards by S. Bolivar, who made it the capital of the republic of Gran Colombia. After the disintegration of Grán Colombia, Bogotá became in 1831 the capital of the republic of New Granada (from 1863, the United States of Colombia; from 1886, Colombia). Since the end of the 19th century, Bogotá has become the center of the country’s revolutionary movement. During the Ninth International Conference of American States, which was taking place in Bogotá in the spring of 1948, the progressive Colombian leader E. Gaitán was killed. This event caused an armed uprising in the city, which then spread to other regions of the country. As the result of street fighting the city’s center was destroyed and burned.

Bogotá has a network of narrow streets which stretch along the hills. On the main square, the Plaza de Bolívar, is the cathedral (1572–1610, rebuilt in the classical style in 1807–22), as well as churches dating from the colonial period, with rich interior carving and statuary (Santo Domingo, begun in 1577; San Francisco, 1569–1622; and San Ignazio, 1625–35). During the 19th and 20th centuries large public, commercial, and industrial buildings were constructed (for example, the National Capitol, 1847–1926; the Tequendama Hotel, 1950–53; and Clark’s Factory, 1953). New areas were also built—Antonio Narino and Cristiana, 1967—these having broad streets. Located in Bogotá are the National University and other higher educational institutions, the National Museum, the National Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of Colonial Art, and the Gold Museum (which has a collection of ancient Indian gold articles.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.