Introduction    Colombia Top of Page
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.
   Geography    Colombia Top of Page
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: 1,138,914 sq km
land: 1,109,104 sq km
water: 100,210 sq km
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
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
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 Top of Page
43,677,372 (July 2009 est.)
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) (2009 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.1 years
male: 26.1 years
female: 28 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.219% (2009 est.)
Birth rate:
18.09 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate:
5.22 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.69 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
urban population: 74% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 17.37 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.14 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.07 years
male: 70.69 years
female: 77.64 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.22 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
170,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
9,800 (2007 est.)
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%
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: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
4.7% of GDP (2006)
   Government    Colombia Top of Page
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 Alvaro URIBE Velez (since 7 August 2002); Vice President Francisco SANTOS Calderon (since 7 August 2002); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Alvaro URIBE Velez (since 7 August 2002); Vice President Francisco SANTOS Calderon (since 7 August 2002)
cabinet: Cabinet consists of a coalition of the three largest parties that supported President URIBE's reelection - the PSUN, PC, and CR - and independents
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president and vice president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 28 May 2006 (next to be held in May 2010)
note: election results: President Alvaro URIBE Velez reelected president; percent of vote - Alvaro URIBE Velez 62%, Carlos GAVIRIA Diaz 22%, Horacio SERPA Uribe 12%, other 4%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Congress or Congreso consists of the Senate or Senado (102 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (166 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 12 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2010); House of Representatives - last held 12 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PSUN 20, PC 18, PL 18, CR 15, PDI 10, other parties 21; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PL 35, PSUN 33, PC 29, CR 20, PDA 8, other parties 41
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:
Colombian Conservative Party or PC [Fernando ARAUJO]; Alternative Democratic Pole or PDA [Jaime DUSSAN]; Liberal Party or PL [Rafael PARDO]; Radical Change or CR [German VARGAS Lleras]; Social National Unity Party or U Party [Juan Manuel SANTOS]
note: Colombia has 5 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:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Carolina BARCO Isakson
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
note: similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center
   Economy    Colombia Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Colombia experienced accelerating growth between 2002 and 2007, chiefly due to advancements in domestic security, to rising commodity prices, and to President URIBE's promarket economic policies. Foreign direct investment reached a record $10 billion in 2008. A series of policies enhanced Colombia's investment climate: President URIBE's pro-market measures; 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 2.5% in 2008, and contracted slightly in 2009. In response, the URIBE administration cut capital controls, arranged for emergency credit lines from multilateral institutions, and promoted investment incentives, such as Colombia's modernized free trade zone mechanism, legal stability contracts, and new bilateral investment treaties and trade agreements. The government also encouraged exporters to diversify their customer base beyond the United States and Venezuela, traditionally Colombia's largest trading partners. The government is pursuing free trade agreements with European and Asian partners and awaits the approval of a Canadian trade accord by Canada's parliament. In 2009, China replaced Venezuela as Colombia's number two trading partner, largely because of Venezuela's decision to limit the entry of Colombia products. The business sector remains concerned about the impact of the global recession on Colombia's economy, 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):
$400.3 billion (2009 est.)
$400.7 billion (2008 est.)
$391.3 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$228.6 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-0.1% (2009 est.)
2.4% (2008 est.)
7.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$9,200 (2009 est.)
$9,300 (2008 est.)
$9,200 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.1%
industry: 38.2%
services: 52.8% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
21.53 million (2009 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 18.9%
services: 63.1% (2009 est.)
Unemployment rate:
12% (2009 est.) 10.6% (2008 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:
56.2 (2008) 53.8 (2005)
Investment (gross fixed):
23.2% of GDP (2009 est.)
revenues: $72.16 billion
expenditures: $79 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2009 est.)
Public debt:
46.1% of GDP (2009 est.) 42.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3% (2009 est.) 7% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
3.5% (31 November 2009) 11.5% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
13.5% (31 October 2009)
Stock of money:
$21.58 billion (31 December 2008) $21.81 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$26.57 billion (31 December 2008) $27.25 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$89.69 billion (31 December 2008) $85.34 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$90.53 billion (31 October 2009) $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:
-1.5% (2009 est.)
Electricity - production:
50.58 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
38.59 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports:
876.7 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
39.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
600,600 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption:
291,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports:
294,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - imports:
16,540 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
1.355 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production:
9 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
8.1 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
900 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
105.9 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
Current account balance:
-$7.136 billion (2009 est.) -$6.712 billion (2008 est.)
$31.34 billion (2009 est.) $38.53 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, emeralds, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
Exports - partners:
US 38%, Venezuela 16.2%, Ecuzador 4% (2008)
$31.67 billion (2009 est.) $37.56 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 29.2%, China 11.5%, Mexico 7.9%, Brazil 5.9% (2008)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$24.84 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $23.67 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$47.33 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $46.38 billion (31 December 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$75.99 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $67.23 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$15.68 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $13.18 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
Colombian pesos (COP) per US dollar - 1,990 (2009), 2,243.6 (2008), 2,013.8 (2007), 2,358.6 (2006), 2,320.75 (2005)
   Communications    Colombia Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
6.82 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
41.365 million (2008)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system in many respects; telecommunications sector liberalized during the 1990s; multiple providers of both fixed-line and mobile-cellular services; 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
domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system; domestic satellite system with 41 earth stations; fiber-optic network linking 50 cities
international: country code - 57; submarine cables provide 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) (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 454, FM 34, shortwave 27 (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
60 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2.217 million (2009)
Internet users:
17.117 million (2008)
   Transportation    Colombia Top of Page
992 (2009)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 116
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 40
914 to 1,523 m: 50
under 914 m: 15 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 876
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 35
914 to 1,523 m: 228
under 914 m: 612 (2009)
2 (2009)
gas 4,567 km; oil 6,097 km; refined products 3,382 km (2009)
total: 3,802 km
standard gauge: 150 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 3,652 km 0.914-m gauge (2008)
total: 164,257 km (2005)
18,000 km (2008)
Merchant marine:
total: 17
by type: cargo 13, petroleum tanker 3, specialized tanker 1
registered in other countries: 6 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Panama 4) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Turbo
   Military    Colombia Top of Page
Military branches:
National Army (Ejercito Nacional), National Navy (Armada Nacional, 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: 11,478,109
females age 16-49: 11,809,279 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 8,212,944
females age 16-49: 10,045,435 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 446,432
female: 437,164 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Colombia Top of Page
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)

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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