Facts about Colombia

World Facts Index > Colombia > Bogota, Cartagena

ColombiaColombia 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 of Colombia

Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama
4 00 N, 72 00 W
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
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
Geography - note:
only South American country with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea

More Geography

Population of Colombia

45,013,672 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30.3% (male 6,683,079/female 6,528,563)
15-64 years: 64.5% (male 13,689,384/female 14,416,439)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 996,022/female 1,279,548)
Median age:
26.3 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
20.35 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.99 years
male: 68.15 years
female: 75.96 years
Total fertility rate:
2.54 children born/woman
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: 92.5%
male: 92.4%
female: 92.6%


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of 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)
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)
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)
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).


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.

$327.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 12.5%
industry: 34.2%
services: 53.3%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
20.52 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 22.7%
industry: 18.7%
services: 58.5%
revenues: $46.82 billion
expenditures: $48.77 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 26%
hydro: 72.7%
other: 1.3% 
nuclear: 0%
textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp
petroleum, coffee, coal, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
Export partners:
US 39.4%, Venezuela 8.9%, Ecuador 5.6%
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Import partners:
US 29%, Venezuela 6.6%, Mexico 6%, Brazil 5.6%, China 5%, Germany 4.6%, Japan 4.3%
Colombian peso (COP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

History of Colombia

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