Nation at a Glance - Colombia

History

Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A five-decade-long conflict between government forces and antigovernment 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 lacked the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government. Large areas of the countryside were under guerrilla influence or contested by security forces. After four years of formal peace negotiations, the Colombian Government signed a peace deal with the FARC in November 2016, which was subsequently endorsed by the Colombian Congress. The agreement calls for members of the FARC to demobilize and be incorporated 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.

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

Border Countries: Brazil 1,790 km, Ecuador 708 km, Panama 339 km, Peru 1,494 km, Venezuela 2,341 km

Total Area: 1,138,910 sq km Land: 1,038,700 sq km Water: 100,210 sq km

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

Terrain: Flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains (Llanos)

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

Land use: Agricultural land: 37.5% arable land 1.4%; permanent crops 1.6%; permanent pasture 34.5% Forest: 54.4% Other: 8.1% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Mestizo and white 84.2%, Afro-Colombian (includes multatto, Raizal, and Palenquero) 10.4%, Amerindian 3.4%, Roma <.01, Unspecified 2.1% (2005 est.)

Languages: Spanish (official)

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Other 10%

Population: 47,220,856 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 94.7%; Male: 94.6%; Female: 94.8% (2015 est.)

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

Economy: Colombia heavily depends on energy and mining exports, making it vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices. Colombia is Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer and the world’s fourth largest coal producer, third largest coffee exporter, and second largest cut flowers exporter. Colombia’s economic development is hampered by inadequate infrastructure, poverty, narcotrafficking, and an uncertain security situation, in addition to dependence on primary commodities. Colombia’s economy slowed in 2017 because of falling global oil prices and lower oil production due to insurgent attacks on pipeline infrastructure. Although real GDP growth averaged 4.7% during the past decade, it fell to an estimated 1.8% in 2017. Declining oil prices also have contributed to reduced government revenues. In 2016, oil revenue dropped below 4% of the federal budget and likely remained below 4% in 2017. A Western credit rating agency in December 2017 downgraded Colombia’s sovereign credit rating to BBB-, because of weaker-than-expected growth and increasing external debt. Colombia has struggled to address local referendums against foreign investment, which have slowed its expansion, especially in the oil and mining sectors. Colombia’s FDI declined by 3% to $10.2 billion between January and September 2017. Colombia has signed or is negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with more than a dozen countries; the US-Colombia FTA went into effect in May 2012. Colombia is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance—a regional trade block formed in 2012 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru to promote regional trade and economic integration. The Colombian government took steps in 2017 to address several bilateral trade irritants with the US, including those on truck scrappage, distilled spirits, pharmaceuticals, ethanol imports, and labor rights. Colombia hopes to accede to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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

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

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