South America :: Colombia
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Colombia
Location of Colombia
 
Map of Colombia
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.
Geography ::Colombia
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama
4 00 N, 72 00 W
total: 1,138,914 sq km
country comparison to the world: 26
land: 1,109,104 sq km
water: 100,210 sq km
note: includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, and Serrana Bank
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
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)
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
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m
note: nearby Pico Simon Bolivar also has the same elevation
petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower
arable land: 2.01%
permanent crops: 1.37%
other: 96.62% (2005)
9,000 sq km (2003)
2,132 cu km (2000)
total: 10.71 cu km/yr (50%/4%/46%)
per capita: 235 cu m/yr (2000)
highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts
deforestation; soil and water quality damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions
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
only South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea
People ::Colombia
45,644,023 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
0-14 years: 28.9% (male 6,679,701/female 6,522,976)
15-64 years: 65.4% (male 14,571,536/female 15,297,179)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 1,103,391/female 1,469,240) (2009 est.)
total: 27.1 years
male: 26.1 years
female: 28 years (2009 est.)
1.377% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
19.57 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
5.54 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
-0.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
urban population: 74% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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.)
total: 18.9 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 108
male: 22.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 72.81 years
country comparison to the world: 114
male: 68.98 years
female: 76.76 years (2009 est.)
2.46 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
0.6% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
170,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
9,800 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
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
mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%
Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%
Spanish
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.4%
male: 90.1%
female: 90.7% (2005 census)
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2006)
4.7% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 80
Government ::Colombia
conventional long form: Republic of Colombia
conventional short form: Colombia
local long form: Republica de Colombia
local short form: Colombia
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)
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)
Independence Day, 20 July (1810)
5 July 1991; amended many times
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
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
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)
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%
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
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)
Colombian Conservative Party or PC [Efrain Jose CEPEDA Sarabia]; Alternative Democratic Pole or PDA [Carlos GAVIRIA Diaz]; Liberal Party or PL [Cesar GAVIRIA Trujillo]; Radical Change or CR [German VARGAS Lleras]; Social National Unity Party or U Party [Carlos FERRO Solanilla]
note: Colombia has 15 formally recognized political parties, and numerous unofficial parties that did not meet the vote threshold in the March 2006 legislative elections required for recognition
National Liberation Army or ELN; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC
note: two largest insurgent groups active in Colombia
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, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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
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
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
Colombia has experienced accelerating growth between 2002 and 2007, with expansion above 7% in 2007, chiefly due to advancements in domestic security, to rising commodity prices, and to President URIBE's promarket economic policies. Colombia's sustained growth helped reduce poverty by 20% and cut unemployment by 25% since 2002. Additionally, investor friendly reforms to Colombia's hydrocarbon sector and the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) negotiations have attracted record levels of foreign investment. Inequality, underemployment,and narcotrafficking remain significant challenges, and Colombia's infrastructure requires significant updating in order to sustain expansion. Economic growth slipped in 2008 as a result of the global financial crisis and weakening demand for Colombia's exports. In response, URIBE's administration has 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 has also encouraged exporters to diversify their customer base away from the United States and Venezuela, Colombia's largest trading partners. Nevertheless, the business sector continues to be concerned about the impact of a global recession on Colombia's exports, as well as the approval of the CTPA, which is stalled in the US Congress.
$395.4 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
$385.8 billion (2007 est.)
$358.9 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$240.7 billion (2008 est.)
2.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
7.5% (2007 est.)
6.9% (2006 est.)
$8,800 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
$8,700 (2007 est.)
$8,200 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 9%
industry: 38.1%
services: 52.9% (2008 est.)
21.3 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
agriculture: 22.4%
industry: 18.8%
services: 58.8% (2005 est.)
11.3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
11.2% (2007 est.)
49.2% (2005)
lowest 10%: 0.8%
highest 10%: 45.9% (2006)
53.8 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 15
57.1 (1996)
24.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
revenues: $83.22 billion
expenditures: $82.92 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2008 est.)
42.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
51.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
7% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
5.5% (2007 est.)
11.5% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 30
11.5% (31 December 2007)
15.6% (31 December 2008)
$21.58 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 40
$21.81 billion (31 December 2007)
$26.57 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 44
$27.25 billion (31 December 2007)
$89.69 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 46
$85.34 billion (31 December 2007)
$87.03 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 48
$102 billion (31 December 2007)
$56.2 billion (31 December 2006)
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
0.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
50.58 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
38.59 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
876.7 million kWh (2007 est.)
39.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
600,600 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
291,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
294,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
16,540 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
1.355 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
9 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
8.1 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
900 million cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 36
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188
105.9 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$-6.761 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
$-5.838 billion (2007 est.)
$38.55 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$30.58 billion (2007 est.)
petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, emeralds, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
US 32.1%, Venezuela 16.8%, Chile 4.8% (2008)
$37.56 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$31.17 billion (2007 est.)
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
US 30.5%, China 8.5%, Mexico 8.5%, Brazil 6.5%, Venezuela 4.3%, Germany 4% (2008)
$23.67 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
$20.95 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$46.4 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 55
$44.55 billion (31 December 2007)
$67.23 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
$56.45 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$13.08 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$10.93 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Colombian pesos (COP) per US dollar - 2,243.6 (2008), 2,013.8 (2007), 2,358.6 (2006), 2,320.75 (2005), 2,628.61 (2004)
Communications ::Colombia
6.82 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 27
41.365 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 27
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)
AM 454, FM 34, shortwave 27 (1999)
60 (1997)
.co
2.217 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 30
17.117 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 21
Transportation ::Colombia
992 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 7
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)
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 4,560 km; oil 6,094 km; refined products 3,383 km (2008)
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 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 6
total: 17
country comparison to the world: 100
by type: cargo 13, petroleum tanker 3, specialized tanker 1
registered in other countries: 6 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Panama 4) (2008)
Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Turbo
Military ::Colombia
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) (2008)
18-24 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; service obligation - 18 months (2004)
males age 16-49: 11,478,109
females age 16-49: 11,809,279 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 8,212,944
females age 16-49: 10,045,435 (2009 est.)
male: 446,432
female: 437,164 (2009 est.)
3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
Transnational Issues ::Colombia
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
IDPs: 1.8-3.5 million (conflict between government and illegal armed groups and drug traffickers) (2007)
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)