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Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
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Transportation
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  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 10.71 cu km/yr (50%/4%/46%)
per capita: 235 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
2,132 cu km (2000)

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

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

Climate:
tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands

Map references:
South America

Geographic coordinates:
4 00 N, 72 00 W

Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower

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

Terrain:
flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains

Geography - note:
only South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea

Area:
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

Location:
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama

Coastline:
3,208 km (Caribbean Sea 1,760 km, North Pacific Ocean 1,448 km)

Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Irrigated land:
9,000 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil and water quality damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Natural hazards:
highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts

Land use:
arable land: 2.01%
permanent crops: 1.37%
other: 96.62% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.49 children born/woman (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.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.7% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
190,000 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.54 years
male: 68.71 years
female: 76.5 years (2008 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)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.8%
male: 92.9%
female: 92.7% (2004 est.)

Net migration rate:
-0.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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

Median age:
total: 26.8 years
male: 25.9 years
female: 27.8 years (2008 est.)

Population:
45,013,672 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
4.7% of GDP (2006)

Population growth rate:
1.405% (2008 est.)

Languages:
Spanish

Death rate:
5.54 deaths/1,000 population (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.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
3,600 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2006)

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.)

Birth rate:
19.86 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Religions:
Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%

Nationality:
noun: Colombian(s)
adjective: Colombian

  Government Back To Top

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

National holiday:
Independence Day, 20 July (1810)

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Government type:
republic; executive branch dominates government structure

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

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

International organization participation:
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

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

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

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

Independence:
20 July 1810 (from Spain)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Colombia
conventional short form: Colombia
local long form: Republica de Colombia
local short form: Colombia

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 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

Capital:
name: Bogota
geographic coordinates: 4 36 N, 74 05 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Constitution:
5 July 1991; amended many times

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%

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

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)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 35.4%, Venezuela 17.4%, Ecuador 4.3% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
39.58 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
10% (31 December 2008)

Electricity - imports:
39.4 million kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$5.592 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$41.68 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
11.8% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
276,100 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$9,000 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
23.1% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$85.34 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$407.2 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$249.8 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
53.8 (2005)

Exchange rates:
Colombian pesos (COP) per US dollar - 2,302.9 (2008 est.), 2,013.8 (2007), 2,358.6 (2006), 2,320.75 (2005), 2,628.61 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
3.8% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$21.81 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
19.46 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 26.2%, China 10.1%, Mexico 9.3%, Brazil 7.3%, Venezuela 4.2% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.4%
industry: 36.6%
services: 54% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
12,480 bbl/day (2005)

Exports:
$41.08 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
7.22 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Currency (code):
Colombian peso (COP)

Economy - overview:
Colombia has experienced accelerating growth since 2002, with expansion above 6% per year in 2006 and 2007, chiefly due to advancements in domestic security and to President URIBE's promarket economic policies. Colombia's sustained growth has helped to reduce poverty by 20% and has cut unemployment by 25% since 2002. Additionally, investor friendly reforms to Colombia's oil sector and the US-Colombia FTA 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 publicly reassured investors that Colombia is a safe place to invest. 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 FTA, which is stalled in the US Congress.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

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

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

Electricity - exports:
876.7 million kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
49.2% (2005)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
15.38% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$27.25 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
51.83 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Imports:
$38.88 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
1.506 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 22.4%
industry: 18.8%
services: 58.8% (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
122.9 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$25.08 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
265,400 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$10.88 billion (2008 est.)

Public debt:
50.4% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$65.69 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$102 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:
COP

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 7.9%
highest 10%: 34.3% (2004)

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

Economic aid - recipient:
$511.1 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 26%
hydro: 72.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.3% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
7.22 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $76.42 billion
expenditures: $78.49 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
580,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
12.1 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
7.936 million (2007)

Televisions:
4.59 million (1997)

Internet country code:
.co

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 454, FM 34, shortwave 27 (1999)

Radios:
21 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
33.941 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
60 (1997)

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)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
18 (2000)

Internet hosts:
1.554 million (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Waterways:
18,000 km (2008)

Pipelines:
gas 4,329 km; oil 6,140 km; refined products 3,145 km (2007)

Railways:
total: 3,304 km
standard gauge: 150 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 3,154 km 0.914-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Turbo

Heliports:
2 (2007)

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)

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)

Roadways:
total: 164,257 km (2005)

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)

Airports:
934 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

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.)

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)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 442,403
female: 433,192 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

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 167,000 hectares in coca cultivation in 2007, a 6% increase over 2006, producing a potential of 535 metric tons 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 2007, aerial eradication dispensed herbicide to treat over 153,000 hectares with another 67,000 hectares manually eradicated, 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 is estimated to have fallen 25% between 2006 and 2007 with a corresponding estimated 27% decline in the yield of pure heroin to 1.9 metric tons; (2007)

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Quiz #2
  1. What famous canal was built at the narrowest point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans?
  Atlantic-Pacific Canal
  Transcontinental Canal
  Panama Canal
  Erie Canal
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