Bogotá – officially named Bogotá, D.C. (D.C. for "Distrito Capital", which means "Capital District"), formerly called Santa Fe de Bogotá – is the capital city of Colombia, as well as the most populous city in the country, with 6,776,009 inhabitants (2005). Bogotá and its metropolitan area, which includes municipalities such as Chía, Cota, Soacha, Cajicá and La Calera, had an estimated population of 8,244,980. In terms of land area, Bogotá is also the largest in Colombia, and its altitude (2,640 metres) makes it the third-highest major city in the world, after La Paz and Quito. With its many universities and libraries, Bogotá has become known as "The Athens of South America".
Bogotá was originally called "Bacatá" (which means “planted fields”) by the Muiscas. It was the center of their civilization before the Spanish explorers colonized the area, and it sustained a large population. The European settlement was founded on August 6, 1538 by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and was named "Santa Fé de Bacatá" after his birthplace Santa Fé and the local name. "Bacatá" had become the modern "Bogotá" by the time it was made the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada, which was then part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, and later of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The city soon became one of the centers of Spanish colonial power and civilization in South America.
In 1810–11 its citizens revolted against Spanish rule and set up a government of their own, but had to contend with internal divisions and the temporary return to power of Spanish military loyalists who regained control of the city in 1816. In 1819 Simón Bolívar liberated it after his victory at Boyacá. Bogotá was then made the capital of Gran Colombia, a federation combining the territories of modern Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. When Gran Colombia was broken up, Bogotá remained the capital of New Granada, which later became the Republic of Colombia.
In 1956 the municipality was joined to other neighboring municipalities forming a "Special District" (Spanish: Distrito Especial). The Constitution of 1991 confirmed Bogotá as the Capital of Colombia, gave it the name "Santafé de Bogotá", and changed the category from Special District to "Capital District" (Distrito Capital).
In August 2000 the name was officially changed back to simply "Bogotá".
The largest and most populous city in Colombia, Bogotá has 7,881,156 inhabitants in its metropolitan area (2005 census), with a population density of approx. 3912 inhabitants per square kilometer. Nowadays in 2009, it is estimated that the city house about 7,362,520 and 8,566,926 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Only 15,810 people are located in rural areas of Capital District. 47.5% of the population are male and 52.5% women. The city has the lowest rate of illiteracy in the country which reaches only 4.6% of the population older than 5 years old.
Public services have a high coverage, since a 99.5% of households have electricity service, while 98.7% have service of an aqueduct and 87.9% have telephone communication. However, as the mission to design a strategy for poverty reduction and inequality, in 2005 the city had a 32.6% of poor (people living on less than U.S. $ 2.0 a day).
In Bogota, as in the rest of the country, the accelerating of the urbanization process is not only due to industrialization, since there are complex political and social reasons such as poverty and violence which have led to migration from rural to urban areas throughout the twentieth century. This has led to an exponential growth of population in urban areas and belts of misery in their surroundings. A dramatic example of this is the number of displaced people who have arrived in Bogota. According to the Consultancy for Human Rights, Codhes, in the period 1999-2005 more than 260,000 people arrived in Bogotá as a result of displacement, about 3.8% of the total population of Bogotá.
The majority of the displaced population lives in the Ciudad Bolivar, Kennedy, Usme, and Bosa sections.
The composition of the city's population is of mestizo origin (those of mixed Amerindian and white European descent), in addition to white European descent, mostly of Spaniard, Italian, French, German, and other European ancestry. It has a very large Middle Eastern population, made up mostly of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants. The population of Colombians, of African descent, in Bogotá is smaller than cities along the coast such as Cartagena, where Colombians, of African descent, have historically resided.
Bogotá is Colombia's largest economic center (followed by Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla), and one of the most important in Latin America. Its GDP of US$86 billion, almost a quarter of Colombia's total, is the fifth highest among cities in South America. Most companies in Colombia have their headquarters in Bogotá (for example, Bavaria, Avianca), it is the site of Colombia's main stock exchange. Bogotá is also a major center for the import and export of goods for Colombia and the Andean Community in Latin America.
Bogotá is the centre of Colombian business, and the city's industrial base include staples of the Colombian economy such as GM Colmotores, Compañía Colombiana Automotriz, and Ecopetrol. Other important industries include financial services, especially banking. Bogotá is the headquarters of major commercial banks, and of the Banco de la República, Colombia's central bank. Bogotá is a centre of printing and publishing, as well as of the national telecommunications network and has the biggest industrial facilities in the country. Bogotá also houses the central governmental institutions and military headquarters, which represent another major component of the city's economy.
The city is also a major convention destination with major convention centres including Centro Ferial de Convenciones Corferias, Centro de Convenciones y Eventos Cafam, Centro de Convenciones Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, among others.