Located in the northwest corner of the South American continent, Colombia encompasses an area of more than 1.1 million square kilometers. It is the only country in South America with both Caribbean (1,760 kilometers) and Pacific coastlines (1,448 kilometers). Colombia also has international borders with five Latin American nations: Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. There were no major outstanding international boundary problems between Colombia and its neighbors in the late 1980s. All of the borders had long been delineated, and most had been demarcated by surveys and the placement of markers, although tropical jungle terrain and hostile Indians had impeded survey operations in some areas along the borders with Venezuela and Brazil. Colombia and Venezuela did, however, dispute sovereignty over the seabed in the Golfo de Venezuela, an area of potential petroleum wealth.
In addition to its mainland territory, Colombia possesses a number of small islands in both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The combined areas of all these islands do not exceed sixtyfive square kilometers.
In the Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua and 640 kilometers from the Colombian coast, Colombian territory includes an archipelago of thirteen small cays grouped around the Isla de San Andrés and the Isla de Providencia. Other small islands, cays, and banks in the same area--which belong to Colombia but also are claimed by Nicaragua--are Isla de Santa Catalina, Cayos de Roncador, Banco de Quita Sueño, Banco de Serrana, and Banco de Serranilla. Several small islands also lie off Colombia's Caribbean coast south of Cartagena. These include the Isla del Rosario, Islas de San Bernardo, and Isla Fuerte.
In the Pacific, Colombian territory encompasses Isla de Malpelo, which lies about 430 kilometers west of Buenaventura. Nearer the coast, a prison colony is located on Isla Gorgona. Isla Gorgonilla lies off the southern shore of Isla Gorgona.
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