The coat of arms of Colombia contains a shield with numerous symbols. Perched on top of the shield is an Andean condor holding an olive crown and the condor symbolizing freedom. The national motto, Libertad y Orden (Spanish for Liberty and Order), is on a scroll in between the bird and the shield in black font over golden background. The condor is depicted as displayed (with his wings extended) and looking to the right.
The national flag is draped on each side of the shield. The shield is broken into three portions. In the lowermost portion is a depiction of ships, pointing to the maritime history of Colombia, namely to the Isthmus of Panama, which was part of Colombia until 1903. Nowadays represents the two oceans that border the country (Atlantic and Pacific). The sails mean the Colombian commerce with the rest of the world and the rising economy. In the middle section, over a field of silver (argent), the Phrygia cap is presented; this being a traditional symbol of liberty and freedom. The topmost section contains a pomegranate over a blue (azure) field, as a symbol of the Vice royalty of New Granada (early colonial name of Colombia back in the 18th century), in the middle flanked by two cornucopias or horns of plenty: the one at the right with golden and silver coins and the one at the left with tropical fruits. This portion represents the agricultural and mineral wealth of Colombian soil.
The coat of arms of the Republic was designed by Francisco de Paula Santander, and was adopted via Act 3 of May 9, 1834, with later non-essential modifications according to Ordinance 861 of 1924.
Some critics have argued that the coat of arms is outdated and anachronistic, as the Andean condor is a very threatened species in the country, with barely 100 creatures soaring the landscape. It has also been discussed that the condor is still a vulture and feeds of carrion, making it an animal with a low profile that never hunts its own food. In addition, the Andean condor is also the national bird of Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. The pomegranate, being a Mediterranean fruit, is not currently cultivated in Colombia and the Phrygian cap is of Greek origin. The Isthmus of Panama, no longer belonging to Colombia, has also been suggested as an element needing changing.
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