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Introduction :: Colombia
Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A four-decade long conflict between government forces and anti-government insurgent groups, principally the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) heavily funded by the drug trade, escalated during the 1990s. The insurgents lack the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government and violence has been decreasing since about 2002, but insurgents continue attacks against civilians and large areas of the countryside are under guerrilla influence or are contested by security forces. More than 31,000 former paramilitaries had demobilized by the end of 2006 and the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as a formal organization had ceased to function. In the wake of the paramilitary demobilization, emerging criminal groups arose, whose members include some former paramilitaries. The Colombian Government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its administrative departments. However, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders. In January 2011, Colombia assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.
Geography :: Colombia
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama
Geographic coordinates:
4 00 N, 72 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 1,138,910 sq km
country comparison to the world: 26
land: 1,038,700 sq km
water: 100,210 sq km
note: includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, and Serrana Bank
Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 6,309 km
border countries: Brazil 1,644 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 1,800 km, Venezuela 2,050 km
3,208 km (Caribbean Sea 1,760 km, North Pacific Ocean 1,448 km)
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Current Weather
tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m
note: nearby Pico Simon Bolivar also has the same elevation
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 2.01%
permanent crops: 1.37%
other: 96.62% (2005)
Irrigated land:
9,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
2,132 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 10.71 cu km/yr (50%/4%/46%)
per capita: 235 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts
volcanism: Galeras (elev. 4,276 m, 14,029 ft) is one of Colombia's most active volcanoes, having erupted in 2009 and 2010 causing major evacuations; it has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Nevado del Ruiz (elev. 5,321 m, 17,453 ft), 129 km (80 mi) west of Bogota, erupted in 1985 producing lahars that killed 23,000 people; the volcano last erupted in 1991; additionally, after 500 years of dormancy, Nevado del Huila reawakened in 2007 and has experienced frequent eruptions since then; other historically active volcanoes include Cumbal, Dona Juana, Nevado del Tolima, and Purace
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil and water quality damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
only South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea
People :: Colombia
44,205,293 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.7% (male 6,192,707/female 5,919,959)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 14,292,342/female 14,717,249)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 1,093,432/female 1,461,683) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.6 years
male: 26.7 years
female: 28.6 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.184% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
Birth rate:
17.76 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
Death rate:
5.24 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
Net migration rate:
-0.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
urban population: 74% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 16.87 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 111
male: 20.52 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.31 years
country comparison to the world: 97
male: 70.98 years
female: 77.84 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.18 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
170,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
9,800 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
noun: Colombian(s)
adjective: Colombian
Ethnic groups:
mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%
Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%
Spanish (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.4%
male: 90.1%
female: 90.7% (2005 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2008)
Education expenditures:
3.9% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 111
Government :: Colombia
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Colombia
conventional short form: Colombia
local long form: Republica de Colombia
local short form: Colombia
Government type:
republic; executive branch dominates government structure
name: Bogota
geographic coordinates: 4 36 N, 74 05 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
32 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 1 capital district* (distrito capital); Amazonas, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlantico, Bogota*, Bolivar, Boyaca, Caldas, Caqueta, Casanare, Cauca, Cesar, Choco, Cordoba, Cundinamarca, Guainia, Guaviare, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Narino, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Quindio, Risaralda, San Andres y Providencia, Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vaupes, Vichada
20 July 1810 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 20 July (1810)
5 July 1991; amended many times
Legal system:
based on Spanish law; a new criminal code modeled after US procedures was enacted into law in 2004 and reached full implementation in January 2008; judicial review of executive and legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon (since 7 August 2010); Vice President Angelino GARZON (since 7 August 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon (since 7 August 2010); Vice President Angelino GARZON (since 7 August 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet
elections: president and vice president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 30 May 2010 with a runoff election 20 June 2010 (next to be held in May 2014)
election results: Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon elected president in runoff election; percent of vote - Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon 69.06%, Antanas MOCKUS 27.52%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Congress or Congreso consists of the Senate or Senado (102 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (166 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 14 March 2010 (next to be held in March 2014); Chamber of Representatives - last held on 14 March 2010 (next to be held in March 2014)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - U Party 28, PC 22, PL 16, PIN 9, CR 8, PDA 8, Green Party 5, other parties 5; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - U Party 47, PC 37, PL 36, CR 16, PIN 12, PDA 4, Green Party 3, other parties 10; note - as of 1 January 2011, the Senate currently has 101 seats after one seat became vacant due to a PL senator losing their seat for illegal collusion with the FARC; the Chamber of Representatives also has one seat vacant after only 165 of the 166 candidates were credentialed
Judicial branch:
four roughly coequal, supreme judicial organs; Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (highest court of criminal law; judges are selected by their peers from the nominees of the Superior Judicial Council for eight-year terms); Council of State (highest court of administrative law; judges are selected from the nominees of the Superior Judicial Council for eight-year terms); Constitutional Court (guards integrity and supremacy of the constitution; rules on constitutionality of laws, amendments to the constitution, and international treaties); Superior Judicial Council (administers and disciplines the civilian judiciary; resolves jurisdictional conflicts arising between other courts; members are elected by three sister courts and Congress for eight-year terms)
Political parties and leaders:
Alternative Democratic Pole or PDA [Clara LOPEZ]; Conservative Party or PC [Fernando ARAUJO]; Green Party [Luis GARZON]; Liberal Party or PL [Rafael PARDO]; National Integration Party or PIN [Angel ALIRIO Moreno]; Radical Change or CR [German VARGAS Lleras]; Social National Unity Party or U Party [Juan Francisco LOZANO Ramirez]
note: Colombia has seven major political parties, and numerous smaller movements
Political pressure groups and leaders:
National Liberation Army or ELN; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC
note: two largest insurgent groups active in Colombia
International organization participation:
BCIE, CAN, Caricom (observer), CDB, FAO, G-3, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Gabriel SILVA Lujan
chancery: 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-8338
FAX: [1] (202) 232-8643
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Washington, DC
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William R. BROWNFIELD
embassy: Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50, Bogota, D.C.
mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27, Bogota, D.C.
telephone: [57] (1) 315-0811
FAX: [57] (1) 315-2197
Flag description:
three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; the flag retains the three main colors of the banner of Gran Columbia, the short-lived South American republic that broke up in 1830; various interpretations of the colors exist and include: yellow for the gold in Colombia's land, blue for the seas on its shores, and red for the blood spilled in attaining freedom; alternatively, the colors have been described as representing more elemental concepts such as sovereignty and justice (yellow), loyalty and vigilance (blue), and valour and generosity (red); or simply the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity
note: similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center
National anthem:
name: "Himno Nacional de la Republica de Colombia" (National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia)
lyrics/music: Rafael NUNEZ/Oreste SINDICI
note: adopted 1920; the anthem was created from an inspirational poem written by President Rafael NUNEZ
Economy :: Colombia
Economy - overview:
Colombia experienced accelerating growth between 2002 and 2007, chiefly due to improvements in domestic security, rising commodity prices, and to President URIBE's promarket economic policies. Foreign direct investment reached a record $10 billion in 2008, and continues to flow in, especially in the oil sector. A series of policies enhanced Colombia's investment climate: pro-business reforms in the oil and gas sectors and export-led growth fueled mainly by the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. Inequality, underemployment, and narcotrafficking remain significant challenges, and Colombia's infrastructure requires major improvements to sustain economic expansion. Because of the global financial crisis and weakening demand for Colombia's exports, Colombia's economy grew only 2.7% in 2008, and 0.8% in 2009 but rebounded to around 4.5% in 2010. The government has encouraged exporters to diversify their customer base beyond the United States and Venezuela, traditionally Colombia's largest trading partners; the SANTOS administration continues to pursue free trade agreements with Asian and South American partners and awaits the approval of a Canadian trade accord by Canada's and EU's parliaments. The business sector remains concerned about Venezuela's trade restrictions on Colombian exports, an appreciating domestic currency, and the pending US Congressional approval of the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$431.9 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
$413.7 billion (2009 est.)
$410.4 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$283.1 billion (2010 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.4% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
0.8% (2009 est.)
2.7% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$9,800 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
$9,500 (2009 est.)
$9,500 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 38%
services: 52.7% (2010 est.)
Labor force:
21.27 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 18.9%
services: 63.1% (2009 est.)
Unemployment rate:
11.2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
12% (2009 est.)
Population below poverty line:
46.8% (2008)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.8%
highest 10%: 45% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
58.5 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 8
53.8 (1996)
Investment (gross fixed):
22.8% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
Public debt:
44.8% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
45.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
4.2% (2009 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
3% (October 2010)
country comparison to the world: 79
5.5% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12.98% (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
17.18% (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of narrow money:
$31.83 billion (31 December 2010 est)
$24.41 billion (31 December 2009 est)
Stock of broad money:
$104.9 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$82.39 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$123 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
$96.66 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$133.3 billion (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 39
$87.03 billion (31 December 2008)
$102 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp
textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
Industrial production growth rate:
5.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
Electricity - production:
50.58 billion kWh (2007)
country comparison to the world: 48
Electricity - consumption:
38.59 billion kWh (2007)
country comparison to the world: 53
Electricity - exports:
876.7 million kWh (2007)
Electricity - imports:
39.4 million kWh (2007)
Oil - production:
686,600 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
Oil - consumption:
288,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
Oil - exports:
294,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
Oil - imports:
16,540 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
Oil - proved reserves:
2.1 billion bbl (1 January 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
Natural gas - production:
9 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
Natural gas - consumption:
8.1 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
Natural gas - exports:
900 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
Natural gas - proved reserves:
112 billion cu m (1 January 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
Current account balance:
-$5.946 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
-$4.991 billion (2009 est.)
$40.24 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$34.03 billion (2009 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, emeralds, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
Exports - partners:
US 39%, Venezuela 12%, Netherlands 4% (2009)
$36.26 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
$31.48 billion (2009 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 28%, China 11%, Mexico 7%, Brazil 6.5%, France 4.5%, Germany 4% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$26.92 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$24.99 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Debt - external:
$57.74 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$52.9 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$84.62 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$75.22 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$19.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$16.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Exchange rates:
Colombian pesos (COP) per US dollar - 1,893.1 (2010), 2,157.6 (2009), 2,243.6 (2008), 2,013.8 (2007), 2,358.6 (2006)
Communications :: Colombia
Telephones - main lines in use:
7.5 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 25
Telephones - mobile cellular:
42.16 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 29
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system in many respects with a nationwide microwave radio relay system, a domestic satellite system with 41 earth stations, and a fiber-optic network linking 50 cities; telecommunications sector liberalized during the 1990s; multiple providers of both fixed-line and mobile-cellular services
domestic: fixed-line connections stand at about 15 per 100 persons; mobile cellular telephone subscribership is about 90 per 100 persons; competition among cellular service providers is resulting in falling local and international calling rates and contributing to the steep decline in the market share of fixed line services
international: country code - 57; landing points for the ARCOS, Colombia-Florida Subsea Fiber (CFX-1), Maya-1, Pan American, and the South America-1 submarine cables providing links to the US, parts of the Caribbean, and Central and South America; satellite earth stations - 10 (6 Intelsat, 1 Inmarsat, 3 fully digitalized international switching centers) (2009)
Broadcast media:
combination of state-owned and privately-owned broadcast media provide service; more than 500 radio stations and large number of national, regional, and local TV stations (2007)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2.527 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 32
Internet users:
22.538 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 18
Transportation :: Colombia
990 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 7
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 116
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 41
914 to 1,523 m: 50
under 914 m: 15 (2010)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 874
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 35
914 to 1,523 m: 228
under 914 m: 610 (2010)
2 (2010)
gas 4,567 km; oil 6,097 km; refined products 3,382 km (2009)
total: 3,802 km
country comparison to the world: 45
standard gauge: 150 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 3,652 km 0.914-m gauge (2008)
total: 164,257 km (2005)
country comparison to the world: 31
18,000 km (2010)
country comparison to the world: 6
Merchant marine:
total: 13
country comparison to the world: 105
by type: cargo 11, petroleum tanker 1, specialized tanker 1
registered in other countries: 3 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Panama 2) (2010)
Ports and terminals:
Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Puerto Bolivar, Santa Marta, Turbo
Military :: Colombia
Military branches:
National Army (Ejercito Nacional), National Navy (Armada Republica de Colombia, includes Naval Aviation, Naval Infantry (Infanteria de Marina, IM), and Coast Guard), Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Colombia, FAC) (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
18-24 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; service obligation - 18 months (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 11,556,939
females age 16-49: 11,609,122 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 8,957,960
females age 16-49: 9,763,655 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 432,280
female: 416,051 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
Transnational Issues :: Colombia
Disputes - international:
in December 2007, ICJ allocates San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina islands to Colombia under 1928 Treaty but does not rule on 82 degrees W meridian as maritime boundary with Nicaragua; managed dispute with Venezuela over maritime boundary and Venezuelan-administered Los Monjes Islands near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics, guerrilla, and paramilitary activities penetrate all neighboring borders and have caused Colombian citizens to flee mostly into neighboring countries; Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and the US assert various claims to Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla Bank
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: 1.8-3.5 million (conflict between government and illegal armed groups and drug traffickers) (2007)
Illicit drugs:
illicit producer of coca, opium poppy, and cannabis; world's leading coca cultivator with 167,000 hectares in coca cultivation in 2007, a 6% increase over 2006, producing a potential of 535 mt of pure cocaine; the world's largest producer of coca derivatives; supplies cocaine to nearly all of the US market and the great majority of other international drug markets; in 2005, aerial eradication dispensed herbicide to treat over 130,000 hectares but aggressive replanting on the part of coca growers means Colombia remains a key producer; a significant portion of narcotics proceeds are either laundered or invested in Colombia through the black market peso exchange; important supplier of heroin to the US market; opium poppy cultivation is estimated to have fallen 25% between 2006 and 2007; most Colombian heroin is destined for the US market (2008)

Credits: CIA World Factbook

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