It is really important to understand that Colombia is a country of civil conflict. Although the situation has improved in the years following 2002, there are still many areas of the country that are considered too dangerous for tourism. (http://travel.state.gov/t...) Heavy day-to-day fighting between guerrillas, narco-traffickers, paramilitaries and state forces takes place in most of southern, south-eastern and north-western Colombia as of 2010, including certain smaller urban centers. Rural areas bordering Venezuela are also to be be avoided. It is not considered appropriate to travel by bus across the country; instead domestic airlines like Avianca are to be preferred. Although many parts of the country are now considered relatively safe for tourism, it is also important to remember that millions of Colombians, predominantly from the poorer classes, suffer from the ongoing conflict every day. Nevertheless, the most dangerous are provincial areas in the country. There are ongoing fights in the Cauca region in the southwest of the country, but not in the provincial capital. Major cities, like Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, and generally speaking, province capitals are very safe, although you should avoid going out to certain areas of said cities in the night, as crime is often common, just like in any other city in the world. The FARC, the most important guerilla group, have their forces weakened by government actions and the political situation is stable, with a steady democratic system. Common sense must be used, as you should use it anywhere.
Traveling in Colombia is definitely worthwhile. From Bogota, with a temperate climate 2,600 m 8530 ft above sea level and at a constant temperature of 19 degrees Celsius, a drive of one or two hours North, South, East or West can take you to landscapes which are as diverse as they are beautiful. To the East are the oriental plains which stretch out far beyond the horizon with little modulation. To the North are the more rugged contours of the higher Andean region. To the South the weather is sub-tropical and has flora and fauna concomitant with this, and to the West you can find the Magdalena River valley and its hot weather. Colombia is one of the equatorial countries of the world, but unique in its extreme topography and abundance of water.
The climate is tropical along the coast and eastern plains; cold in the highlands; periodic droughts. Colombia is an equatorial country, so there are no seasons, what Colombians normally refer to as winter is the rainy season. Cities such as BogotÃ¡, Tunja, and Pasto have been known to reach temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, so if you are sensitive to cold weather, be prepared. Some mountains are also covered in snow perenially. Cities along the Atlantic coast Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta are hot and humid, while some cities at mid-altitude in the Andes MedellÃn, Manizales and other cities in the Coffee Triangle region have 'everlasting spring' weather.
Colombia became independent from Spain in 1810. It was one of the five countries liberated by SimÃ³n BolÃvar the others being Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia. Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama then formed the first Republic of Colombia. Ecuador and Venezuela declared their independence from Colombia in 1830. Panama declared its independence from Colombia in 1903 with the support of the United States of America. A 40-year communist insurgent campaign to overthrow the Colombian Government escalated during the 1990s, under girded in part by funds from the drug trade. Although the violence is deadly and large swaths of the rural countryside are under guerrilla influence, the movement lacks the military strength or popular support necessary to overthrow the government. Illegal anti-insurgent paramilitary groups have grown to be several thousand strong in recent years, challenging the insurgents for control of territory and illicit industries such as the drug trade and also the government's ability to exert its dominion over rural areas. While BogotÃ¡ continues to try to negotiate a settlement, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.