Bogotá, Colombia, the nation's capital and largest city. It lies in a basin in the Andes, some 8,600 feet (2,600 m) above sea level. High peaks virtually surround it. For centuries Bogotá has been the political, cultural, and educational focus of Colombia. It is also a major commercial, financial, and manufacturing center. Industrial growth has come mainly during the past few decades and has been accompanied by a large population increase. Bogotá is served by modern roads, many airlines, and a railway to the Caribbean Sea.
The heart of the city, marked by a growing number of tall, modern buildings, centers on Plaza de Bolívar. Clustered here are the capitol, other government buildings, the cathedral, several historic churches, prominent museums, and palaces. The Colón Theater features opera, ballet, and concerts. National University (1867) is the largest university in Colombia.
The city was founded in 1538 by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, a Spanish conquistador. In 1717 it became capital of the Vice-royalty of New Granada. When independence from Spain was won in 1819, Bogotá became the capital of Simón Bolívar's new republic—Greater Colombia, from which Colombia and other nations later emerged.