Introduction Colombia 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 municipalities. However, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.

Pre-Columbian era

Approximately 10,000 BC hunter-gatherer societies existed near present-day Bogotá (at "El Abra" and "Tequendama") which traded with one another and with cultures living in the Magdalena River Valley.[17] Beginning in the first millennium BC, groups of Amerindians developed the political system of "cacicazgos" with a pyramidal structure of power headed by caciques. Within Colombia, the two cultures with the most complex cacicazgo systems were the Tayronas in the Caribbean Region, and the Muiscas in the highlands around Bogotá, both of which were of the Chibcha language family. The Muisca people are considered to have had one of the most developed political systems in South America, after the Incas.[18]

Spanish discovery, conquest and colonization

Spanish explorers made the first exploration of the Caribbean littoral in 1499 led by Rodrigo de Bastidas. Christopher Columbus navigated near the Caribbean in 1502. In 1508, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa started the conquest of the territory through the region of Urabá. In 1513, he was also the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean which he called Mar del Sur (or "Sea of the South") and which in fact would bring the Spaniards to Peru and Chile. The territory's main population was made up of hundreds of tribes of the Chibchan and Carib, currently known as the Caribbean people, whom the Spaniards conquered through warfare and alliances, while resulting disease and the conquest itself caused a demographic reduction among the indigenous. In the sixteenth century, Europeans began to bring slaves from Africa.

Independence from Spain

Since the beginning of the periods of Conquest and Colonization, there were several rebel movements under Spanish rule, most of them either being crushed or remaining too weak to change the overall situation. The last one, which sought outright independence from Spain, sprang up around 1810, following the independence of St. Domingue in 1804 (present day Haiti), who provided a non-negligible degree of support to the eventual leaders of this rebellion: Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander. Simón Bolívar had become the first president of Colombia and Francisco de Paula Santander was Vice President; when Simón Bolívar stepped down, Santander became the second president of Colombia. The rebellion finally succeeded in 1819 when the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada became the Republic of Greater Colombia organized as a Confederation along Ecuador and Venezuela (Panama was part of Colombia).

Post-Independence and republicanism

Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. At this time, the so-called "Department of Cundinamarca" adopted then the name "Nueva Granada", which it kept until 1856 when it became the "Confederación Granadina" (Grenadine Confederation). After a two year civil war in 1863, the "United States of Colombia" was created, lasting until 1886, when the country finally became known as the Republic of Colombia. Internal divisions remained between the bipartisan political forces, occasionally igniting very bloody civil wars, the most significant being the Thousand Days civil war (1899 - 1902) which together with the United States of America's intentions to influence in the area (especially the Panama Canal construction and control) led to the separation of the Department of Panama in 1903 and the establishment of it as a nation. Colombia engulfed in a year long war with Peru over a territorial dispute involving the Amazonas Department and its capital Leticia. Soon after, Colombia achieved a relative degree of political stability, which was interrupted by a bloody conflict that took place between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, a period known as La Violencia ("The Violence"). Its cause was mainly because of mounting tensions between the two leading political parties, which subsequently ignited after the assassination of the Liberal Presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948. This assassination caused riots in Bogotá and became known as El Bogotazo, the violence from these riots spread through out the country and claimed the lives of at least 180,000 Colombians. From 1953 to 1964 the violence between the two political parties decreased first when Gustavo Rojas deposed the President of Colombia in a coup d'etat, and negotiated with the guerrillas, and then under the military junta of General Gabriel París Gordillo.

After Rojas deposition the two political parties Colombian Conservative Party and Colombian Liberal Party agreed to the creation of a "National Front", whereby the Liberal and Conservative parties would govern jointly. The presidency would be determined by an alternating conservative and liberal president every 4 years for 16 years; the two parties would have parity in all other elective offices. The National Front ended "La Violencia", and National Front administrations attempted to institute far-reaching social and economic reforms in cooperation with the Alliance for Progress. In the end, the contradictions between each successive Liberal and Conservative administration made the results decidedly mixed. Despite the progress in certain sectors, many social and political injustices continued and many guerrillas were formally created such as the FARC, ELN and M-19 to fight the government and political apparatus with influences from Cold War doctrines.

Emerging in the late 1970s, powerful and violent drug cartels developed during the 1980s and 1990s. The Medellín Cartel under Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel, in particular, exerted political, economic and social influence in Colombia during this period. These cartels also financed and influenced different illegal armed groups throughout the political spectrum. Some enemies of these allied with the guerrillas and created or influenced paramilitary groups.

The new Colombian Constitution of 1991 was ratified after being drafted by the Constituent Assembly of Colombia. The constitution included key provisions on political, ethnic, human and gender rights. The new constitution initially prohibited the extradition of Colombian nationals. There were accusations of lobbying by drug cartels in favor of this prohibition. The cartels had previously promoted a violent campaign against extradition, leading to many terrorist attack and mafia style executions. They also tried to influence the government and political structure of Colombia by means of corruption, as in the case of the 8000 Process scandal.

Members of the Colombian National Army during a field training exercise.

In recent years, the country has continued to be plagued by the effects of the drug trade, guerrilla insurgencies like FARC and paramilitary groups such as the AUC (later demobilized, though paramilitarism remains active), which along with other minor factions have engaged in a bloody internal armed conflict. President Andrés Pastrana and the FARC attempted to negotiate a solution to the conflict between 1998 and 2002 but failed to do so. President Andrés Pastrana also began to implement the Plan Colombia initiative, with the dual goal of ending the armed conflict and promoting a strong anti-narcotic strategy.

During the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, who was elected on the promise of applying military pressure on the FARC and other criminal groups, some security indicators have improved, showing a decrease in reported kidnappings (from 3700 in the year 2000 to 800 in 2005) and a decrease of more than 48% in homicides between July 2002 and May 2005 and of the terrorist guerrila itself reduced from 16.900 insurgents to 8.900 insurgents. It is argued that these improvements have favored economic growth and tourism.[19] The 2006–2007 Colombian parapolitics scandal emerged due to the revelations and judicial implications of past and present links between paramilitary groups, mainly the AUC, and some government officials and many politicians, most of them allied to the governing administration.

Geography Location: 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
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
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
Coastline: 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
Climate: tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
Terrain: 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: 2.01%
permanent crops: 1.37%
other: 96.62% (2005)
Irrigated land: 9,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 2,132 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 10.71 cu km/yr (50%/4%/46%)
per capita: 235 cu m/yr (2000)
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, 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

The Politics of Colombia take place in the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic as established in the Colombian Constitution of 1991. The constitution vested the National Electoral Council along with the National Registry of the Civil State with the function of organizing and controlling the electoral process in Colombia. Since the 2005 reform the electoral process abides by the Law 974 of 2005 which modified the way political parties organize and interact in the government. Colombia goes through three electoral processes to elect candidates for a period of four years; a Presidential election, for president and vice president candidates (authorized to serve one reelection, 8 years), a legislative election for congress; senate and chamber of representatives (authorized many terms through reelection) and a regional election to elect department governors, department assemblies, municipal mayors and municipal councils and Local administrative juntas (executive regional leaders are only authorized one term in office).

The last presidential and legislative elections were on May 28, 2006, in which president Álvaro Uribe was reelected by a vote of 62%, with 22% going to Carlos Gaviria of the Democratic Pole, and 12% to Horacio Serpa of the Liberal Party. Colombia's bicameral parliament is the Congress of Colombia consists of a 166-seat Chamber of Representatives of Colombia and a 102-seat Senate of Colombia. Members of both houses are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. With congressmen, Colombia also elects the president. Department deputies, city councils and mayors are elected one year and five months after the president's and congressmen's election. The latest regional election was on October 28, 2007 with some 27 million Colombians apt to vote to elect between some 86 thousand candidates to represent 1,098 Colombian municipalities and 32 governors of Colombian Departments. Colombian authorities mobilized 167,559 soldiers and policemen in order to vigil the 9,950 voting sites.[21]

The election process in the judicial system is headed by the Constitutional Court and members are appointed by the Congress of Colombia out of nominations made by the President and other high ranking tribunals, presidents of courts in the other hand are elected in internal elections. In Electoral Institutions and Control Institutions of Colombia officials are also appointed by the president and approved by congress like the Inspector General of Colombia.

People Population: 44,379,598 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.8% (male 6,696,471/female 6,539,612)
15-64 years: 64.8% (male 14,012,140/female 14,732,874)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,042,645/female 1,355,856) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 26.6 years
male: 25.6 years
female: 27.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.433% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 20.16 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.54 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.024 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.951 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.769 male(s)/female
total population: 0.961 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 20.13 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.86 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.27 years
male: 68.44 years
female: 76.24 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.51 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.7% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 190,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 3,600 (2003 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)
Nationality: noun: Colombian(s)
adjective: Colombian
Ethnic groups: mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%
Languages: Spanish
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.8%
male: 92.9%
female: 92.7% (2004 est.)
Government 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
Capital: 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, San Andres y Providencia, Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vaupes, Vichada
Independence: 20 July 1810 (from Spain)
National holiday: Independence Day, 20 July (1810)
Constitution: 5 July 1991; amended many times
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
Suffrage: 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)
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%
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
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)
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 GARCIA Orjuela]
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
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
International organization participation: BCIE, CAN, Caricom (observer), CDB, CSN, 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, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador William R. BROWNFIELD
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
note: similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center

The culture of Colombia lies at the crossroads of Latin America characterized for having one of the most multicultural societies; a mixture of European, African, Native American and to a lesser extend Middle Eastern traditions that was later influenced by American culture and other Latin American cultures such as the Mexican culture, Argentine culture and Caribbean culture. Due to Colombia's geography and years of social and political instability, Colombian culture has been heavily fragmented into five major cultural regions which are also natural regions. Rural to urban migration, industrialisation, globalization and internal political, social and economic issues have changed Colombians' way of living throughout the years.

Inherited from the Spanish colonization, Colombia in general maintains a large base of Roman Catholic traditions which largely influences its culture and multicultural society despite the presence of other beliefs. The Constitution of 1991 made possible the protections and freedom of religious beliefs. The mixture a variety of the different ethnic traditions developed unique hybrids of musical, dancing and rites expressions being Cumbia and Vallenato the most renown and strongly influenced by world pop culture.

Colombia also has multiple celebrations and festivals through out the year, most of these being celebrations related to religious traditions, human expressions such as musical and theater, freedom celebration; as the case of the Ibero-American Theater Festival, Barranquilla's Carnival, Carnival of Blacks and Whites, the Independence day every July 20th, the holy week and Christmas. One of the most important aspects in Colombia is television with telenovelas playing a key role in the Colombian culture and lately the growing local film industry.

Colombians have developed a special passion for the Football (soccer) sport, the Colombia national football team is seen as a symbol of unity and national pride. Colombia has been an "exporter" of many famous players, such as Jonathan Estrada, Freddy Rincon, Carlos Valderrama, Ruben Dario Bustos and Faustino Asprilla. Colombia also celebrated and shows their unity and pride by the triumphs of many athletes in different sport disciplines who are Colombian, more notably Juan Pablo Montoya in NASCAR, Edgar Rentería, Orlando Cabrera in MLB and Camilo Villegas on the PGA Tour. Other Colombians of pride are those who are successful in different disciplines, such as literature like the Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Art like master Fernando Botero, and Shakira, Juanes and Carlos Vives in music. Colombia also has a vivid reputation for theater, such as El Zorro, and Betty La Fea, which different versions were produced in the United States, Croatia, Mexico and more. Many famous actors such as Rafael Novoa, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Sofia Vergara. The Cuisine of Colombia developed from influences of the European cuisine mainly Spanish cuisine, Italian cuisine and French cuisine, American cuisine other Latin American cuisines such as the Mexican and the Caribbean and the local indigenous traditional cuisine.

All this multiculturalism has developed national symbols which are objects or themes identified to be representatives of Colombia and its people within the local pop culture. Cultural expressions in Colombia are promoted by the government through the Ministry of Culture.

Economy Economy - overview: 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $320.4 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $171.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $7,200 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 11.5%
industry: 36%
services: 52.4% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 20.65 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 22.7%
industry: 18.7%
services: 58.5% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 10.6% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 49.2% (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 7.9%
highest 10%: 34.3% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 53.8 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 27.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $64.02 billion
expenditures: $64.35 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2007 est.)
Public debt: 53.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp
Industries: textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
Industrial production growth rate: 6% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 50.47 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 26%
hydro: 72.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.3% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 38.91 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 1.758 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 16 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 539,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 264,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 289,700 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 6,453 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 1.542 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 6.397 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 6.397 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 109.7 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$5.132 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $28.39 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, emeralds, apparel, bananas, cut flowers
Exports - partners: US 35.8%, Venezuela 11.4%, Ecuador 5.4% (2006)
Imports: $30.83 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Imports - partners: US 26.8%, Brazil 8.6%, Mexico 8.5%, China 6%, Venezuela 5.6%, Japan 4.1% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $511.1 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $23.14 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $43.3 billion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $45.01 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $10.01 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $56.2 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Colombian peso (COP)
Currency code: COP
Exchange rates: Colombian pesos per US dollar - 2,013.8 (2007), 2,358.6 (2006), 2,320.75 (2005), 2,628.61 (2004), 2,877.65 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 7.865 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 29.763 million (2006)
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 70 per 100 persons
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 - 6 Intelsat, 1 Inmarsat; 3 fully digitalized international switching centers (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 454, FM 34, shortwave 27 (1999)
Radios: 21 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 60 (1997)
Televisions: 4.59 million (1997)
Internet country code: .co
Internet hosts: 1.014 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 18 (2000)
Internet users: 6.705 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 934 (2007)
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)
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)
Heliports: 2 (2007)
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)
Roadways: total: 112,988 km
paved: 16,270 km
unpaved: 96,718 km (2004)
Waterways: 18,000 km (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 15 ships (1000 GRT or over) 35,949 GRT/49,161 DWT
by type: cargo 11, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 3
registered in other countries: 5 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Panama 4) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Turbo
Military 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)
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 18-49: 10,212,456
females age 18-49: 10,561,562 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 6,986,228
females age 18-49: 8,794,465 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 389,735
females age 18-49: 383,146 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3.4% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: memorials and countermemorials were filed by the parties in Nicaragua's 1999 and 2001 proceedings against Honduras and Colombia at the ICJ over the maritime boundary and territorial claims in the western Caribbean Sea - final public hearings are scheduled for 2007; 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 of its neighbors' borders and have caused over 300,000 persons to flee the country, mostly into neighboring states
Refugees and internally displaced persons: IDPs: 1.8-3.8 million (conflict between government and illegal armed groups and FARC factions; drug wars) (2006)
Illicit drugs: illicit producer of coca, opium poppy, and cannabis; world's leading coca cultivator with 144,000 hectares in coca cultivation in 2005, a 26% increase over 2004, producing a potential of 545 mt 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 2005, aerial eradication dispensed herbicide to treat over 130,000 hectares 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 fell 50% between 2003 and 2004 to 2,100 hectares yielding a potential 3.8 metric tons of pure heroin, mostly for the US market; no poppy estimate was conducted in 2005