Country Information Database


Colombia Country Information

Flag 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 40-year conflict between government forces and anti-government insurgent groups and illegal paramilitary groups - both 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 swaths of the countryside are under guerrilla influence. More than 32,000 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. Still, some renegades continued to engage in criminal activities. 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
Geographic coordinates:
4 00 N, 72 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 1,138,910 sq km
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
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
45,013,672 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.4% (male 6,688,530/female 6,531,768)
15-64 years: 65.1% (male 14,292,647/female 15,017,204)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 1,072,644/female 1,410,881) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.8 years
male: 25.9 years
female: 27.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.405% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
19.86 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
5.54 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 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: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 19.51 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.54 years
male: 68.71 years
female: 76.5 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.49 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.7% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
190,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
3,600 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
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: 92.8%
male: 92.9%
female: 92.7% (2004 est.)
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
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 implemention 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 (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 (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%
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 [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 GARCIA Orjuela]
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
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
Economy - overview:
Colombia's economy has experienced positive growth over the past five years despite a serious armed conflict. In fact, 2007 is regarded by policy makers and the private sector as one of the best economic years in recent history, after 2005. The economy continues to improve in part because of austere government budgets, focused efforts to reduce public debt levels, an export-oriented growth strategy, improved domestic security, and high commodity prices. Ongoing economic problems facing President URIBE include reforming the pension system, reducing high unemployment, and funding new exploration to offset declining oil production. The government's economic reforms and democratic security strategy, coupled with increased investment, have engendered a growing sense of confidence in the economy. However, the business sector continues to be concerned about failure of the US Congress to approve the signed FTA.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$327.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$171.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
8.2% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$7,400 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11.5%
industry: 36%
services: 52.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
20.5 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 22.7%
industry: 18.7%
services: 58.5% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
11.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:
49.2% (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 7.9%
highest 10%: 34.3% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
53.8 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
22.5% of GDP (2007 est.)
revenues: $63.69 billion
expenditures: $64.96 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2007 est.)
Public debt:
52.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
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:
9.8% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
50.47 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 26%
hydro: 72.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.3% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
38.91 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
1.758 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
16 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
531,300 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
264,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
289,700 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
6,453 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
1.388 billion bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production:
6.397 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
6.397 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
109.7 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$5.862 billion (2007 est.)
$30.58 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, emeralds, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
Exports - partners:
US 28.5%, Venezuela 17.7%, Ecuador 5.3% (2007)
$31.17 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 27.2%, Brazil 8.5%, Mexico 8.4%, China 7.2%, Venezuela 4.5%, Japan 4.2% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$511.1 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$20.95 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$41.39 billion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$56.19 billion (2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$10.38 billion (2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$56.2 billion (2006)
Currency (code):
Colombian peso (COP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Colombian pesos per US dollar - 2,013.8 (2007), 2,358.6 (2006), 2,320.75 (2005), 2,628.61 (2004), 2,877.65 (2003)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Colombia
Telephones - main lines in use:
7.936 million (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
33.941 million (2007)
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 18 per 100 persons; mobile cellular usage is about 75 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) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 454, FM 34, shortwave 27 (1999)
21 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
60 (1997)
4.59 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
1.014 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
18 (2000)
Internet users:
12.1 million (2007)
Transportation Colombia
934 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 103
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 39
914 to 1,523 m: 42
under 914 m: 12 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 831
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 216
under 914 m: 580 (2007)
2 (2007)
gas 4,329 km; oil 6,140 km; refined products 3,145 km (2007)
total: 3,304 km
standard gauge: 150 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 3,154 km 0.914-m gauge (2006)
total: 164,257 km (2005)
18,000 km (2006)
Merchant marine:
total: 16 ships (1000 GRT or over) 37,186 GRT/51,432 DWT
by type: cargo 13, petroleum tanker 3
registered in other countries: 5 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Panama 4) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Turbo
Military Colombia
Military branches:
National Army (Ejercito Nacional), National Navy (Armada Nacional, includes Naval Aviation, Naval Infantry (Infanteria de Marina, Colmar), and Coast Guard), Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Colombia, FAC) (2008)
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: 8,056,336
females age 16-49: 9,919,952 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 442,403
female: 433,192 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
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 82W 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 144,000 hectares in coca cultivation in 2005, a 26% increase over 2004, producing a potential of 545 mt of pure cocaine; the world's largest producer of coca derivatives; supplies cocaine to most 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 non-US 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 fell 50% between 2003 and 2004 to 2,100 hectares yielding a potential 3.8 metric tons of pure heroin, mostly for the US market; no poppy estimate was conducted in 2005

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 04:03:58 -0500