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A country of 1,140,000 km², roughly equal to the area of Portugal, Spain, and France put together, Colombia occupies the northwestern end of South America, and is the only country there with coasts on both the Pacific (1350 km long), and the Atlantic (over 1600 km) oceans. Three Andean ranges run north and south through the western half of the country (about 45% of the country's territory.) The eastern part is a vast lowland which can be generally divided into two regions: a huge open savanna on the north (Llanos), and the Amazon in the south (400,000 km²). A country of geographical contrasts and extremes. As well as the features mentioned, it has such curiosities as the desert of La Guajira, the peninsula in the most north-eastern tip of the country; the jungle of the Pacific coast which holds one of the world's rainfall records; and finally the La Macarena National Park an isolated mountain formation about 120 km long, rising abruptly from the eastern plains to some 2500 meters. Colombia also has several small islands. The major ones are the archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia in the Caribbean Sea, the Islas del Rosario and San Bernardo along the Caribbean coast, and Gorgona and Malpelo in the Pacific Ocean.
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Santiago de Cali (/san'tja?o ðe 'kali/), often shortened to Cali, is the main city, municipality and capital of the Valle del Cauca, a department in western Colombia. With a population of 2,316.654 hab. Santiago de Cali is the third largest city in Colombia. It is a reference point inside Colombia because of its industrial and commercial development, and has one of the fastest growing economies in the country because of its geographical location. Cali was founded on July 25th in 1536 by the Spanish conqueror Sebastián de Belalcázar.
The first part of the name Santiago de Cali honours Saint James the apostle (Santiago in Spanish) whose feast day is celebrated on July 25. There are several possibilities for the origin of the word "Cali". Some attribute it to a mispronunciation of the word "Lili", the name of a local tribe. Others believe that the word "Cali" has Quechua origin, and it was brought by the Yanaconas Indians that came from Quito serving Sebastián de Belalcázar. This theory is reinforced by the fact that near Quito there is an indigenous town named Cali Cali.
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