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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 being Ecuador and Venezuela). A 40-year insurgent campaign to overthrow the Colombian Government escalated during the 1990s, undergirded in part by funds from the drug trade. Although the violence is deadly and large swaths of the countryside are under guerrilla influence, the movement lacks the military strength or popular support necessary to overthrow the government. An anti-insurgent army of paramilitaries has grown to be several thousand strong in recent years, challenging the insurgents for control of territory and illicit industries such as the drug trade and the government's ability to exert its dominion over rural areas. While Bogota continues to try to negotiate a settlement, 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
note: includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, Serrana Bank, and Serranilla Bank
water: 100,210 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 6,004 km
border countries: Brazil 1,643 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 1,496 km (est.), Venezuela 2,050 km
3,208 km (Caribbean Sea 1,760 km, North Pacific Ocean 1,448 km)
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
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: 1.9%
other: 96.14% (1998 est.)
permanent crops: 1.96%
Irrigated land:
8,500 sq km (1998 est.)
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, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping
Geography - note:
only South American country with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea
People Colombia
41,008,227 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 6,552,961; female 6,399,666)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 12,694,293; female 13,375,425)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 886,921; female 1,098,961) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.6% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
21.99 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
5.66 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
23.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.85 years
female: 74.83 years (2002 est.)
male: 67 years
Total fertility rate:
2.64 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.31% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
71,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,700 (1999 est.)
noun: Colombian(s)
adjective: Colombian
Ethnic groups:
mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%
Roman Catholic 90%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.3%
male: 91.2%
female: 91.4% (1995 est.)
Government Colombia
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Colombia
conventional short form: Colombia
local short form: Colombia
local long form: Republica de Colombia
Government type:
republic; executive branch dominates government structure
Administrative divisions:
32 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 1 capital district* (distrito capital); Amazonas, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlantico, Distrito Capital de 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
Legal system:
based on Spanish law; a new criminal code modeled after US procedures was enacted in 1992-93; judicial review of executive and legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
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); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet consists of a coalition of the two dominant parties - the PL and PSC - and independents
elections: president and vice president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 26 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2006)
election results: President Alvaro URIBE Velez received 53% of the vote; Vice President Francisco SANTOS was elected on the same ticket
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 10 March 2002 (next to be held NA March 2006); House of Representatives - last held 10 March 2002 (next to be held NA March 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PL 28, PSC 13, independents and smaller parties (many aligned with conservatives) 61; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PL 54, PSC 21, independents and other parties 91
Judicial branch:
four, coequal, supreme judicial organs; Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justical (highest court of criminal law; judges are selected from the nominees of the Higher Council of Justice for eight-year terms); Council of State (highest court of administrative law, judges are selected from the nominees of the Higher Council of Justice 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); Higher Council of Justice (administers and disciplines the civilian judiciary; members of the disciplinary chamber resolve jurisdictional conflicts arising between other courts; members are elected by three sister courts and Congress for eight-year terms)
Political parties and leaders:
Conservative Party or PSC [Carlos HOLGUIN Sardi]; Liberal Party or PL [Horatio SERPA Uribe]; Patriotic Union or UP is a legal political party formed by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC and Colombian Communist Party or PCC [Jaime CAICEDO]; 19 of April Movement or M-19 [Antonio NAVARRO Wolff]
note: Colombia has about 60 formally recognized political parties, most of which do not have a presence in either house of Congress
Political pressure groups and leaders:
two largest insurgent groups active in Colombia - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC and National Liberation Army or ELN; largest anti-insurgent paramilitary group is United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia or AUC
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Luis Alberto MORENO Mejia
chancery: 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Washington, DC
consulate(s): Atlanta
FAX: [1] (202) 232-8643
telephone: [1] (202) 387-8338
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Anne W. PATTERSON
embassy: Calle 22D-BIS, numbers 47-51, Apartado Aereo 3831
mailing address: Carrera 45 #22D-45, Bogota, D.C., APO AA 34038
telephone: [57] (1) 315-0811
FAX: [57] (1) 315-2197
Flag description:
three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; 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 suffered from weak domestic demand, austere government budgets, and a difficult security situation. A new president takes office in 2002 and will face economic challenges ranging from pension reform to reduction of unemployment. Two of Colombia's leading exports, oil and coffee, face an uncertain future; new exploration is needed to offset declining oil production, while coffee harvests and prices are depressed. Problems in public security are a concern for Colombian business leaders, who are calling for progress in the government's peace negotiations with insurgent groups. Colombia is looking for continued support from the international community to boost economic and peace prospects.
purchasing power parity - $255 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $6,300 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 19%
industry: 26%
services: 55% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
55% (2001) (2001)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 44% (1999) (1999)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
57 (1996)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.6% (2001) (2001)
Labor force:
18.3 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 46%, agriculture 30%, industry 24% (1990) (1990)
Unemployment rate:
17% (2001 est.)
revenues: $24 billion
expenditures: $25.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
Industrial production growth rate:
4% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
43.342 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 26%
hydro: 73%
other: 1% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
40.348 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
37 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
77 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp
$12.3 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum, coffee, coal, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
Exports - partners:
US 43%, Andean Community of Nations 22%, EU 14%, (2001 est.)
$12.7 billion c.i.f. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 35%, EU 16%, Andean Community of Nations 15%, Japan 5% (2001 est.)
Debt - external:
$39 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Colombian peso (COP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Colombian pesos per US dollar - 2,275.89 (January 2002), 2,299.63 (2001), 2,087.90 (2000), 1,756.23 (1999), 1,426.04 (1998), 1,140.96 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Colombia
Telephones - main lines in use:
5,433,565 (December 1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1,800,229 (December 1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system in many respects
domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system; domestic satellite system with 41 earth stations; fiber-optic network linking 50 cities
international: satellite earth stations - 6 Intelsat, 1 Inmarsat; 3 fully digitalized international switching centers; 8 submarine cables
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 454, FM 34, shortwave 27 (1999)
21 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
60 (includes seven low-power stations) (1997)
4.59 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
18 (2000)
Internet users:
1.15 million (2002)
Transportation Colombia
total: 3,304 km
standard gauge: 150 km 1.435-m gauge (connects Cerrejon coal mines to maritime port at Bahia de Portete)
narrow gauge: 3,154 km 0.914-m gauge (major sections not in use) (2000 est.)
total: 110,000 km
paved: 26,000 km
unpaved: 84,000 km (2000)
18,140 km (navigable by river boats) (April 1996)
crude oil 3,585 km; petroleum products 1,350 km; natural gas 830 km; natural gas liquids 125 km
Ports and harbors:
Bahia de Portete, Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Leticia, Puerto Bolivar, San Andres, Santa Marta, Tumaco, Turbo
Merchant marine:
total: 11 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 32,438 GRT/43,126 DWT
ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 3, container 1, petroleum tanker 2
note: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 1 (2002 est.)
1,066 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 96
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 36
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 38
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 954
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 51
under 914 m: 587 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 315
1 (2002)
Military Colombia
Military branches:
Army (Ejercito Nacional), Navy (Armada Nacional, including Marines and Coast Guard), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Colombiana), National Police (Policia Nacional)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 10,946,932 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 7,308,703 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 379,295 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$3.3 billion (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.4% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Colombia
Disputes - international:
Nicaragua filed a claim against Honduras in 1999 and against Colombia in 2001 at the ICJ over disputed maritime boundary involving 50,000 sq km in the Caribbean Sea, including the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank; maritime boundary dispute with Venezuela in the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian drug activities penetrate Peruvian border area
Illicit drugs:
illicit producer of coca, opium poppy, and cannabis; world's leading coca cultivator (cultivation of coca in 2001 was 169,800 hectares, a 25% increase over 2000); potential production of opium between 2000 and 2001 increased by 33% to 40 metric tons; potential production of heroin increased to 4.3 metric tons; the world's largest processor of coca derivatives into cocaine; supplier of about 90% of the cocaine to the US market and the great majority of cocaine to other international drug markets; important supplier of heroin to the US market; active aerial eradication program; a significant portion of non-US narcotics proceeds are either laundered or invested in Columbia through the black market peso exchange

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003