Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/827

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(La Kepubltca de Colombia.) Constitution and Government.

The Republic of Colombia gained its independence of Spain in 1819, and was officially constituted December 27, 1819. This vast Republic split up into Venezuela, Ecuador, and the Republic of New Granada, February 29, 1832. The Constitution of April 1, 1858, changed the Republic into a confederation of eight States, under the name of Confederation Granadina. On September 20, 1861, the convention of Bogota brought out the confederation under the new name of United States of New Granada, with nine States. On May 8, 1863, an improved Constitution was formed, and the States reverted to the old name Colombia — United States of Colombia. The revolution of 1885 brought about another change, and the National Council of Bogota, composed of three delegates from each State, promulgated the Constitution of August 4, 1886. The sovereignty of the nine States was abolished, and they became simple departments, their -presidents, elected by ballot, being reduced to governors under the direct nomination of the President of the Republic, the country being now named the Republic of Colombia.

The legislative power rests with a Congress of two Houses, called the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate, numbering 27 members, is composed of representatives of the nine departments, each deputing three senators ; the House of Representatives, numbering 66 (subject to change) members, is elected for four years by universal suffrage, each department forming a constituency and returning one member for 50,000 inhabitants.

The President is chosen by electoral colleges, holds office for six years, and exercises his executive functions through eight ministers, or secretaries, respon- sible to Congress. Congress elects, for a term of two years, a substitute, who, failing the president and vice-president during a presidential term, lills the vacancy.

President of the Republic. — M. A. Saclemente.

Vice-President {Acting-President). — J. M. Marroquin.

The ministries are those of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, War, Puldic Instruction, and the Treasury.

The departments have retained some of the prerogatives of their old sovereignty, such as the entire management of their finances, &c. ; each is presided over by a governor appointed by the President and removable at his pleasure.

Area and Population.

The area of the Republic is estimated to embrace 513,938 English square miles, of which 330,756 square miles arc north of the equator, and the