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Colombia Country Guide

Explore Colombia in South America

Colombia with the capital city Bogotá is located in South America (Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea). It covers some 1,138,911 square kilometres (slightly less than twice the size of Texas) with 45,013,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The terrain features flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains. The average density of population is approximately 40 per km². The notable climate conditions in Colombia can be described as tropical along coast and eastern plains with cooler in highlands. Potential natural disasters are highlands subject to volcanic eruptions or occasional earthquakes or periodic droughts.

To reach someone in Colombia dial +57 prior to a number. There are 7,500,000 installed telephones. And there are 42,160,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 850, 1900 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".co". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 110V - 60Hz.

About the flag and history of Colombia

Three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; the flag retains the three main colors of the banner of Gran Colombia, the short-lived South American republic that broke up in 1830; various interpretations of the colors exist and include: yellow for the gold in Colombia's land, blue for the seas on its shores, and red for the blood spilled in attaining freedom; alternatively, the colors have been described as representing more elemental concepts such as sovereignty and justice (yellow), loyalty and vigilance (blue), and valor and generosity (red); or simply the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity
note: similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center.

Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A nearly five-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. 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 lack the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government, but continue attacks against civilians. Large areas of the countryside are under guerrilla influence or are contested by security forces. In October 2012, the Colombian Government started formal peace negotiations with the FARC aimed at reaching a definitive bilateral ceasefire and incorporating demobilized FARC members 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.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: South America
Neighbours: Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Brazil, Venezuela
Capital: Bogotá
Size 1,138,910 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 439,736 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Population 45,013,000
Currency Name: Peso, Currency Code: COP
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .co
Telephone Country Prefix +57
Mobile Phone Connections 42,160,000
Landline Phone Connections 7,500,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 1,138,910 (sq km) 26

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 45,745,783 29
Population growth rate 1.10 (%) 107
Birth rate 16.98 (births/1,000 population) 117
Death rate 5.33 (deaths/1,000 population) 176
Net migration rate -0.66 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 141
Maternal mortality rate 92.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 80
Infant mortality rate 15.46 (deaths/1,000 live births) 106
Life expectancy at birth 75.02 (years) 99
Total fertility rate 2.10 (children born/woman) 111
Health expenditures 7.60 (% of GDP) 71
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.50 (%) 67
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 160,000 32
HIV/AIDS - deaths 14,000 20
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 17.30 (%) 112
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 3.40 (%) 106
Education expenditures 4.50 (% of GDP) 93
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 23.0 (%) 43


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 511,100,000,000 29
GDP - real growth rate 4.00 (%) 79
GDP - per capita (PPP) 11,000 110
Labor force 23,080,000 29
Unemployment rate 10.30 (%) 111
Distribution of family income - Gini index 59 8
Investment (gross fixed) 24.10 (% of GDP) 58
Taxes and other revenues 28.5 (% of GDP) 103
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -0.50 (% of GDP) 53
Public debt 40.20 (% of GDP) 91
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 3.20 (%) 83
Central bank discount rate 5.00 (%) 72
Commercial bank prime lending rate 11.22 (%) 72
Stock of narrow money 41,900,000,000 49
Stock of broad money 151,200,000,000 48
Stock of domestic credit 165,500,000,000 44
Market value of publicly traded shares 208,500,000,000 34
Current account balance -13,290,000,000 177
Exports 59,960,000,000 55
Imports 55,490,000,000 54
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 34,740,000,000 47
Debt - external 78,640,000,000 52
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 111,500,000,000 37
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 32,560,000,000 42


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 56,280,000,000 (kWh) 47
Electricity - consumption 46,870,000,000 (kWh) 48
Electricity - exports 1,294,000,000 (kWh) 51
Electricity - imports 8,220,000,000 (kWh) 29
Electricity - installed generating capacity 13540000 (kW) 47
Electricity - from fossil fuels 32.9 (% of total installed capacity) 178
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 66.6 (% of total installed capacity) 25
Electricity - from other renewable sources 0.4 (% of total installed capacity) 77
Crude oil - production 944,000 (bbl/day) 22
Crude oil - exports 777,900 (bbl/day) 18
Crude oil - imports 10 (bbl/day) 85
Crude oil - proved reserves 2417000000 (bbl) 34
Refined petroleum products - production 316,500 (bbl/day) 42
Refined petroleum products - consumption 287,000 (bbl/day) 45
Refined petroleum products - exports 52,680 (bbl/day) 57
Refined petroleum products - imports 6,045 (bbl/day) 148
Natural gas - production 11,260,000,000 (cu m) 43
Natural gas - consumption 9,080,000,000 (cu m) 51
Natural gas - exports 2,180,000,000 (cu m) 39
Natural gas - imports 40,290 (cu m) 75
Natural gas - proved reserves 134,100,000,000 (cu m) 51
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 72,310,000 (Mt) 46


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 7,127,000 26
Telephones - mobile cellular 46,200,000 29
Internet hosts 4,410,000 24
Internet users 22,538,000 18


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 862 8
Railways 874 (km) 95
Roadways 141,374 (km) 33
Waterways 24,725 (km) 5
Merchant marine 12 105


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 3.80 (% of GDP) 26

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
An exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape that is unique and representative of a tradition that is a strong symbol for coffee growing areas worldwide - encompasses six farming landscapes, which include 18 urban centres ...
Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox
Founded in 1540 on the banks of the River Magdalena, Mompox played a key role in the Spanish colonization of northern South America. From the 16th to the 19th century the city developed parallel to the river, with the main street acting as a dyke. Th ...
Los Katíos National Park
Extending over 72,000 ha in north-western Colombia, Los Katios National Park comprises low hills, forests and humid plains. An exceptional biological diversity is found in the park, which is home to many threatened animal species, as well as many end ...
Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
Located some 506 km off the coast of Colombia, the site includes Malpelo island (350 ha) and the surrounding marine environment (857,150 ha). This vast marine park, the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, provides a critical habi ...
National Archeological Park of Tierradentro
Several monumental statues of human figures can be seen in the park, which also contains many hypogea dating from the 6th to the 10th century. These huge underground tombs (some burial chambers are up to 12 m wide) are decorated with motifs that repr ...
Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena
Situated in a bay in the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena has the most extensive fortifications in South America. A system of zones divides the city into three neighbourhoods: San Pedro, with the cathedral and many Andalusian-style palaces; San Diego, where ...
San Agustín Archaeological Park
The largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America stands in a wild, spectacular landscape. Gods and mythical animals are skilfully represented in styles ranging from abstract to realist. These works of art display th ...