Colombia 1997Colombia

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Colombia - Introduction 1997
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Background: Colombia gained its independence from Spain in 1819. Earlier than most countries in the area, it established traditions of civilian government with regular, free elections. In recent years, however, assassinations, widespread guerrilla activities, and drug trafficking have severely disrupted normal public and private activities.

Colombia - Geography 1997
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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 referenceSouth America

Total: 1,138,910 km²
Land: 1,038,700 km²
Water: 100,210 km²
Note: includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, Serrana Bank, and Serranilla Bank
Comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Montana

Land boundaries
Total: 7,408 km
Border countries: (5) Brazil 1,643 km; , Ecuador 590 km; , Panama 225 km; , Peru 2,900 km; , Venezuela 2,050 km

Coastline: 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
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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

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

Extremes lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Extremes highest point: Nevado del Huila 5,750 m

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

Land use
Arable land: 4%
Permanent crops: 1%
Permanent pastures: 39%
Forests and woodland: 48%
Other: 8% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 5,300 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

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

Note: only South American country with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea

Colombia - People 1997
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Population: 37,418,290 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 1.61% (1997 est.)

Noun: Colombian(s)
Adjective: Colombian

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

Languages: Spanish

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 31% (male 5,959,141; female 5,816,751)
15-64 years: 64% (male 11,756,893; female 12,146,103)
65 years and over: 5% (male 769,724; female 969,678) (July 1997 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 1.61% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 20.78 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 4.62 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.1 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: deforestation; soil damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 24.7 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 73.14 years
Male: 70.28 years
Female: 76.09 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.31 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 91.3%
Male: 91.2%
Female: 91.4% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Colombia - Government 1997
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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

Capital: Bogota

Administrative divisions: 32 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 1 capital district* (distrito capital; Amazonas, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlantico, 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, Santa Fe de Bogota*, Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vaupes, Vichada

Dependent areas

Independence: 20 July 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 20 July (1810)

Constitution: 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

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Ernesto SAMPER Pizano (since 7 August 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government: President Ernesto SAMPER Pizano (since 7 August 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet
Elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 29 May 1994 (next to be held May 1998); vice president elected by popular vote for a four-year term in a new procedure that replaces the traditional designation of vice presidents by newly elected presidents
Election results: Ernesto SAMPER Pizano elected president; percent of vote - no candidate received more than 50% of the total vote, therefore, a run-off election to select a president from the two leading candidates was held 19 June 1994; percent of vote - Ernesto SAMPER Pizano (Liberal Party) 50.4%, Andres PASTRANA Arango (Conservative Party) 48.6%, blank votes 1%; Humberto de la CALLE Lombana elected vice president; percent of vote - NA

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 (161 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Elections: Senate - last held 13 March 1994 (next to be held March 1998); House of Representatives - last held 13 March 1994 (next to be held March 1998)
Election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Liberal Party 59, conservatives (includes PC, MSN, and NDF) 31, other 12; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Liberal Party 89, conservatives (includes PC, MSN, and NDF) 53, AD/M-19 2, other 17

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justical), highest court of criminal law, judges are selected from the nominees of the Higher Council of Justice for eight-year terms; Council of State, highest court of administrative law, judges are selected from the nominees of the Higher Council of Justice 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

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: AG, CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G- 3, G-11, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Juan Carlos ESGUERRA Portocarrero
In the us chancery: 2,118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 387-8,338
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 232-8,643
In the us consulates general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Washington, DC
In the us consulates: Atlanta and Tampa
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Myles R. R. FRECHETTE
From the us embassy: Calle 22D-BIS, No. 47-51, Apartado Aereo 3,831
From the us mailing address: APO AA 34,038
From the us telephone: [57] (1) 315-0811
From the us FAX: [57] (1) 315-2,197

Flag descriptionflag of Colombia: three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Colombia - Economy 1997
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Economy overview: Boasting a diversified and stable economy, Colombia has enjoyed Latin America's most consistent record of growth over the last several decades. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has expanded every year for more than 25 years, and unlike many other Latin American countries, Colombia did not default on any of its official debts during the "lost decade" of the 1980s. Since 1990, when Bogota introduced a comprehensive reform program that opened the economy to foreign trade and investment, GDP growth has averaged more than 4% annually. Growth has been fueled in recent years by the rapid expansion of the oil sector, progress in the construction and financial service industries, and an influx of foreign capital. Direct foreign investment, especially in the oil industry, is rising at a rapid rate. In 1996, oil overtook coffee as Colombia's main export. Non-petroleum economic growth slowed, however, due mostly to high interest rates - the result of high government spending and a tight monetary policy - and a real appreciation of the exchange rate. Business confidence was also damaged by a political crisis stemming from allegations President SAMPER solicited contributions from drug traffickers during the 1994 campaign. The slowdown in the growth of labor-intensive industries such as manufacturing has caused unemployment to rise to 11.5% by the end of 1996 and interfered with President SAMPER'S plans to lower the country's poverty rate, which has remained at about 40% despite the expanding economy.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 2.1% (1996 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 20%
Industry: 27%
Services: 53% (1995 est.)

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

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

Industrial production growth rate: 4.5% (1995 est.)

Labor force
Total: 12 million (1990)
By occupation services: 46%
By occupation agriculture: 30%
By occupation industry: 24% (1990)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 11.5% (yearend 1996)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $27 billion
Expenditures: $30 billion including capital expenditures of $N/A (1997 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Total value: $10.3 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
Commodities: petroleum, coffee, coal, bananas, fresh cut flowers
Partners: US 39%, EC 25.7%, Japan 2.9%, Venezuela 8.5% (1992)

Total value: $12.4 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
Commodities: industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products
Partners: US 36%, EC 18%, Brazil 4%, Venezuela 6.5%, Japan 8.7% (1992)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $16.5 billion (1996 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Colombian pesos (Col$) per US$1 - 1,027.87 (January 1997), 1,036.69 (1996), 912.83 (1995), 844.84 (1994), 863.06 (1993), 759.28 (1992)

Colombia - Energy 1997
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 45.361 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 963 kWh (1995 est.)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Colombia - Communication 1997
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: modern system in many respects
Domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system; domestic satellite system with 11 earth stations
International: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Colombia - Military 1997
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $2 billion (1995)
Percent of gdp: 2.8% (1995)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Colombia - Transportation 1997
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 913 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 606
With paved runways over 3047 m: 2
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 9
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 32
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 36
With paved runways under 914 m: 527 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 307
With unpaved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 34
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 272 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 606
Over 3047 m: 2
2438 to 3047 m: 9
15-24 to 2437 m: 32
914 to 1523 m: 36
Under 914 m: 527 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 307
2438 to 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 34
914 to 1523 m: 272 (1996 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 3,585 km; petroleum products 1,350 km; natural gas 830 km; natural gas liquids 125 km

Total: 3,386 km
Standard gauge: 150 km 1.435-m gauge (connects Cerrejon coal mines to maritime port at Bahia Portete)
Narrow gauge: 3,236 km 0.914-m gauge (1830 km in use) (1995)


Waterways: 14,300 km, navigable by river boats

Merchant marine
Total: 17 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 72,388 GRT/97,576 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 6, container 1, multi-function large load carrier 2, oil tanker 3 (1996 est.)

Ports and terminals

Colombia - Transnational issues 1997
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Disputes international: maritime boundary dispute with Venezuela in the Gulf of Venezuela; territorial dispute with Nicaragua over Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of coca, opium poppies, and cannabis; about 50,900 hectares of coca under cultivation in 1995; the world's largest processor of coca derivatives into cocaine; supplier of cocaine to the US and other international drug markets; active aerial eradication program seeks to virtually eliminate coca and opium crops


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