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The highlands to the east of the Magdalena Valley include Cundinamarca, where Bogota, the capital, is located.Set in the central range to the west of the Magdalena are two of the most important cities: Medellín (the second largest city) and Manizales.Farther to the south in the Cauca Valley is Cali, the third largest city, which has some of the richest farmland.This area contains some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, including gold and emeralds.It contains several small islands in the Atlantic, including San Andrea and Providencia, and in the Pacific, the Malpelo and Gorgona islands have been set aside as natural wildlife reserves.
Caucasians, mainly descendants of Spaniards, constitute about 20 percent of the population.
Colombia has great biodiversity with 1,550 species of birds and over 13,000 species of plants. With a population of 42.3 million (30 June 2000), Colombia is a nation of mixed race.
It is estimated that about 75 percent of the population is of mixed heritage, with 55 percent of this group being mestizos, 16 percent mulattoes, and 4 percent zambos .
The fertile land supports banana and sugarcane plantations along with cattle ranches.
Lush rain forest and swamps characterize the Pacific lowlands.
Antioquia and the coffee region are considered "white" departments or states because of the reluctance of European settlers to mix with blacks or Indians.