Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A nearly five-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. More than 31,000 former paramilitaries had demobilized by the end of 2006 and the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia 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 insurgents lack the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government, but continue attacks against civilians. Large areas of the countryside are under guerrilla influence or are contested by security forces.

In November 2012, the Colombian Government started formal peace negotiations with the FARC aimed at reaching a definitive bilateral ceasefire and incorporating demobilized FARC members into mainstream society and politics. 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. Despite decades of internal conflict and drug related security challenges, Colombia maintains relatively strong democratic institutions characterized by peaceful, transparent elections and the protection of civil liberties.

Colombian Flag

Colombian Flag


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

tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands

flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains (Llanos)

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: 1.84%
permanent crops: 1.66%
other: 96.5% (2011)

Irrigated land:
10,870 sq km (2011)

Total renewable water resources:
2,132 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 12.65 cu km/yr (55%/4%/41%)
per capita: 308 cu m/yr (2010)

Natural hazards:
highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts
volcanism: Galeras (elev. 4,276 m) 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), 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[/wptabcontent]

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People & Society

noun: Colombian(s)
adjective: Colombian

Ethnic groups:
mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%

Spanish (official)

Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%

Demographic profile:
Colombia is in the midst of a demographic transition resulting from steady declines in its fertility, mortality, and population growth rates. The birth rate has fallen from more than 6 children per woman in the 1960s to just above replacement level today as a result of increased literacy, family planning services, and urbanization. However, income inequality is among the worst in the world, and more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line.
Colombia experiences significant legal and illegal economic emigration and refugee flows. Large-scale labor emigration dates to the 1960s; Venezuela and the United States continue to be the main host countries. Colombia is the largest source of Latin American refugees in Latin America, nearly 400,000 of whom live primarily in Venezuela and Ecuador. Forced displacement remains prevalent because of violence among guerrillas, paramilitary groups, and Colombian security forces. Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations are disproportionately affected. A leading NGO estimates that 5.2 million people have been displaced since 1985, while the Colombian Government estimates 3.6 million since 2000. These estimates may undercount actual numbers because not all internally displaced persons are registered. Historically, Colombia also has one of the world’s highest levels of forced disappearances. About 30,000 cases have been recorded over the last four decades – although the number is likely to be much higher – including human rights activists, trade unionists, Afro-Colombians, indigenous people, and farmers in rural conflict zones.

46,245,297 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30

Age structure:
0-14 years: 25.3% (male 5,998,645/female 5,720,229)
15-24 years: 18% (male 4,243,251/female 4,099,299)
25-54 years: 41.6% (male 9,515,723/female 9,720,894)
55-64 years: 6.7% (male 1,796,050/female 2,051,948)
65 years and over: 6.5% (male 1,293,258/female 1,806,000) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 50.9 %
youth dependency ratio: 41.2 %
elderly dependency ratio: 9.6 %
potential support ratio: 10.4 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 28.9 years
male: 27.9 years
female: 29.9 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.07% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114

Birth rate:
16.73 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117

Death rate:
5.36 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178

Net migration rate:
-0.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140

urban population: 75.3% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.65% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
BOGOTA (capital) 8.743 million; Medellin 3.694 million; Cali 2.453 million; Barranquilla 1.9 million; Bucaramanga 1.12 million; Cartagena 988,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
92 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 80

Infant mortality rate:
total: 15.02 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 107
male: 18.22 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.25 years
country comparison to the world: 97
male: 72.08 years
female: 78.61 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
2.07 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
79.1% (2010)

Health expenditures:
6.1% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 106

Physicians density:
1.47 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density:
1.4 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source:
urban: 99.6% of population
rural: 72.5% of population
total: 92.9% of population
urban: 0.4% of population
rural: 27.5% of population
total: 7.1% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 82.3% of population
rural: 65.4% of population
total: 78.1% of population
urban: 17.7% of population
rural: 34.6% of population
total: 21.9% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.5% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
146,500 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
6,500 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
17.3% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 112

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
3.4% (2010)
country comparison to the world: 108

Education expenditures:
4.4% of GDP (2012)
country comparison to the world: 95

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.6%
male: 93.5%
female: 93.7% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2012)

Child labor – children ages 5-14:
total number: 988,362
percentage: 9 %
note: data represents children ages 5-17 (2009 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 21.9%
country comparison to the world: 53
male: 17%
female: 28.9% (2011)

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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, Archipielago de San Andres, Providencia y Santa Catalina (colloquially San Andres y Providencia), Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vaupes, Vichada

20 July 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 20 July (1810)

several previous; latest promulgated 5 July 1991; amended many times, last in 2011 (2013)
Legal system:
civil law system influenced by the Spanish and French civil codes
International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt 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 appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
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 on 25 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 9 March 2014 (next to be held in March 2018); Chamber of Representatives – last held on 9 March 2014 (next to be held in March 2018)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – U Party 21, PC 19, CD 19, PL 17, CR 9, PDA 5, Green Party 5, other parties 7; Chamber of Representatives – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – U Party 39, PL 37, PC 27, CR 16, CD 12, Green Party 6, PDA 3, other parties 26

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of the Civil-Agrarian and Labor Chambers each with 7 judges, and the Penal Chamber with 9 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 magistrates); Council of State (consists of 27 magistrates)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the Congress from candidates submitted by the president; judges appointed for life; Constitutional Court magistrates – 3 nominated by the president, 3 by the Supreme Court, and 3 elected by the Senate; judges elected for individual 2-8 year terms
subordinate courts: Superior Tribunals (appellate courts for each of the judicial districts); regional courts; civil municipal courts; Superior Military Tribunal; first instance administrative courts

Political parties and leaders:
Alternative Democratic Pole or PDA [Clara LOPEZ]
Conservative Party or PC [Omar YEPES Alzate]
Democratic Center Party or CD [Alvaro URIBE Velez]
Green Party [Alfonso PRADA]
Liberal Party or PL [Simon GAVIRIA Munoz]
National Integration Party or PIN [Angel ALIRIO Moreno]
Radical Change or CR [Carlos Fernando GALAN]
Social National Unity Party or U Party [Sergio Diaz GANADOS]
note: Colombia has seven major political parties, and numerous smaller movements
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Central Union of Workers or CUT
Colombian Confederation of Workers or CTC
General Confederation of Workers or CGT
National Liberation Army or ELN
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC
note: FARC and ELN are the two largest insurgent groups active in Colombia

International organization participation:
BCIE, BIS, CAN, Caricom (observer), CD, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-3, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance, PCA, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNSC (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Luis Carlos VILLEGAS Echeverri (since 3 December 2013)
chancery: 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-8338
FAX: [1] (202) 232-8643
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Beverly Hills (CA), Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
consulate(s): Newark (NJ)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Benjamin ZIFF
embassy: Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50, Bogota, D.C.
mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27, Bogota, D.C.
telephone: [57] (1) 275-2000
FAX: [57] (1) 275-4600

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 Colombia, 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 valor 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 symbol(s):
Andean condor

National anthem:
name: “Himno Nacional de la Republica de Colombia” (National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia)

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Economy – overview:
Colombia’s consistently sound economic policies and aggressive promotion of free trade agreements in recent years have bolstered its ability to weather external shocks. Real GDP has grown more than 4% per year for the past three years, continuing almost a decade of strong economic performance. All three major ratings agencies have upgraded Colombia’s government debt to investment grade. Nevertheless, Colombia depends heavily on energy and mining exports, making it vulnerable to a drop in commodity prices.

Colombia is the world’s fourth largest coal exporter and Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer. Economic development is stymied by inadequate infrastructure and an uncertain security situation. Moreover, the unemployment rate of 9.7% in 2013 is still one of Latin America’s highest. The SANTOS Administration’s foreign policy has focused on bolstering Colombia’s commercial ties and boosting investment at home. Colombia has signed or is negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with more than a dozen countries; the US-Colombia FTA went into force on May 2012. Colombia is also a founding member of the Pacific Alliance – a regional grouping formed in 2012 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru to promote regional trade and economic integration.

In 2013, Colombia began its ascension process to the OECD. The annual level of foreign direct investment – notably in the oil and gas sectors – reached a record high of $16.8 billion in 2013, an increase of 7% over 2012. Inequality, poverty, and narcotrafficking remain significant challenges, and Colombia’s infrastructure requires major improvements to sustain economic expansion.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$526.5 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
$505.2 billion (2012 est.)
$484.9 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$369.2 billion (2013 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
4.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
4.2% (2012 est.)
6.6% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$11,100 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
$10,800 (2012 est.)
$10,500 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
21.9% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
22.8% of GDP (2012 est.)
20.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 61.7%
government consumption: 16.7%
investment in fixed capital: 23.8%
investment in inventories: -0.3%
exports of goods and services: 17.3%
imports of goods and services: -19.3%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 6.6%
industry: 37.8%
services: 55.6% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; shrimp; forest products

textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds

Industrial production growth rate:
2.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117

Labor force:
23.75 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 17%
industry: 21%
services: 62% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate:
9.7% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
10.4% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
32.7% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.9%
highest 10%: 44.4% (2010 est.)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
55.9 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 10
56.9 (1996)

revenues: $107.4 billion
expenditures: $106 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
29.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
0.4% of GDP (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37

Public debt:
39.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
40.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
3.4% (2011 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
4.75% (31 December 2011)
country comparison to the world: 72
5% (31 December 2010)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
11% (31 December 2013 est.)
$NA (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$42.28 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$41.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$163.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$153.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$192.6 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$180.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$262.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$NA (31 December 2011)
$208.5 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
-$11.02 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
-$12.17 billion (2012 est.)

$58.7 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
$59.85 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
petroleum, coal, emeralds, coffee, nickel, cut flowers, bananas, apparel

Exports – partners:
US 36.6%, China 5.5%, Spain 4.8%, Panama 4.7%, Venezuela 4.4%, Netherlands 4.1% (2012)

$53.5 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
$54.64 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity

Imports – partners:
US 24.2%, China 16.3%, Mexico 10.9%, Brazil 4.8% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$43.74 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
$37 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$85.83 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$80.72 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$128.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$111.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$33.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$31.65 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
Colombian pesos (COP) per US dollar –
1,865.8 (2013 est.)
1,798 (2012 est.)
1,898.6 (2010 est.)
2,157.6 (2009)
2,243.6 (2008)

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