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Colombia its history, Colombia’s government has been ineffective. Many politicians, judging from news releases, either are “owned” by drug cartels, or, if they openly oppose criminal activities, find their lives in jeopardy. Graft and other forms of corruption are widespread. Conditions are so bad that some observers believe Colombia’s government, like those of Afghanistan and Soma-­ lia, may be on the brink of collapse. Finally, severe illness can strike both humans and states, often with devastating results. In Colombia, 50 years of civil unrest has made the country severely ­ill. System of ­Government Colombia is a democratic constitutional republic. Its current constitution, the latest of many, was adopted on July 5, 1991, and has been amended many times. The country is subdivided into 32 departments, each with its own administrative cen-­ ter, and one capital district, Bogotá. Unlike the United States, however, Colombia is a unitary state in which the central government, rather than the individual subunits, holds most of the power. Like the United States, though, the government is divided into three ­branches—­the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. It also has two dominant political parties, one liberal and the other conservative. The president is chief of state and head of government. A president and vice president are elected by popular vote to ­ four-­year terms and are eligible to hold office for no more than two consecutive terms. The president also seeks advice from a Cabinet. The Legislative branch of gov-­ ernment also is closely patterned to that of the United States. It is bicameral (divided into two sections), with both a Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate has 102 seats, and members are elected to ­ four-­year terms. The House has 166 members who also are elected to ­four-­year ­terms. Colombia’s court system differs somewhat from that of the United States. There are four high courts, each with a different area of jurisdiction, or responsibility. The Supreme Court of


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